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Alaska and JetBlue Tighten Face Mask Policies, Blocking Middle Seats Through October

Alaska and JetBlue Tighten Face Mask Policies, Blocking Middle Seats Through October
Joe Cortez

Alaska Airlines and JetBlue will continue to practice social distancing as best they can, while strengthening their face mask policies. The two carriers are blocking off middle seats and mandating all flyers wear approved face coverings without exception, in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 aboard aircraft.

Alaska Airlines and JetBlue are demonstrating a commitment to preventing the spread of COVID-19, to aid flyers who decide to travel during the pandemic. Both airlines are adding requirements to their face mask policies, geared to protect passengers flying aboard their aircraft.

Face Mask Policies Become Clearer, and Social Distancing Remains Through October

Following a policy similar to Delta Air Lines, Alaska’s face mask policy is clearly spelling out which coverings are acceptable, and which are not. Under their improved protocol starting Aug. 7, 2020, face coverings “must be made from a cloth or other barrier material that prevents the discharge and release of respiratory droplets from a person’s nose or mouth.” If a face covering has an exhaust valve, do not cover the user’s nose or mouth, or if a flyer decides to wear a face shield without a mask, they will be given a “yellow card” from the airline.

Alaska Airlines is strengthening their face covering policy Aug. 7: No mask, no travel, no exceptions. Flyers who do not comply will be given a “yellow card” and asked to wear a face covering or fly another airline. Image courtesy: Alaska Airlines

If the flyer decides to not wear a face mask after their yellow card, the carrier will no longer welcome their business. The flyer’s travel privileges aboard Alaska will be banned immediately upon landing, and any remaining portion of their itinerary will be cancelled, including connecting or return flights. Although the flyer will receive a refund, they will be responsible for making travel arrangements that do not include Alaska flights.

“We all need to look out for each other during this health emergency, and the best way we can do that – and prevent the spread of the virus – is to simply wear a mask or face covering when we’re around each other,” Max Tidwell, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of safety and security, said in a press release. “Our tougher policy shows how important this issue is to us and our guests. If you don’t wear a mask, you won’t be flying with us.”

At JetBlue, their strengthened policy is similar to other airlines: passengers must wear a face mask that covers the nose and mouth, and must be worn for the entire flight. If a crewmember finds someone wearing a non-complying face mask, they will offer a new, compliant one to the passenger. Those who do not agree to wear a face covering will not be allowed on an aircraft, and those who do not comply once on board may be reviewed and banned from flying JetBlue.

“The simple act of wearing a proper face covering is one way we can all help ensure the safety of all JetBlue crewmembers and customers,” Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer of JetBlue, said in their release. “Our terminals and airplanes are a shared space, and every customer must wear a proper face covering or will need to delay their travel on JetBlue until face coverings are no longer required.”

In addition to stronger face covering policies, both airlines are blocking off middle seats until October. JetBlue will block middle seats through Oct. 15, 2020, while Alaska will continue blocking middle seats through Oct. 31, 2020.

Stronger Policies Come as Entire Industry Warns Flyers to “Mask Up”

Both Alaska’s and JetBlue’s policies come as the entire aviation industry adopts a “zero tolerance” approach to face mask usage when aboard aircraft. In July 2020, American Airlines warned flyers they must wear a face covering aboard the flight, or find another airline.

Meanwhile, Delta created a “Clearance-to-Fly” process for those who claim they cannot wear a mask due to a health condition. The Atlanta-based carrier also claims they have banned “over 100 people” from their flights for not wearing a face covering.

View Comments (2)

2 Comments

  1. MimiB22

    August 7, 2020 at 6:38 am

    The “no exhaust valve” on one’s mask rule makes sense, since protecting others is the goal with mask wearing and we have new information about viral transmission, but many people, including frequent flyers [like my son in law] who must fly weekly, have been led to believe that the N95 mask with valve is the Rolls Royce of PPE. I hope that the airlines are willing to give out disposable masks for people who only have these masks. He has a supply of N95 masks, but trying to obtain new compliant masks while he’s on the road would be very difficult. As it is, he avoids crowds, shopping, etc and just goes from airport to hotel [via rental car only], to his job site. He eats carry out or delivered food in his hotel room and doesn’t go out at night or socialize with colleagues unless they can distance and will wear masks. He only flies on airlines with unoccupied middle seats. Being a road warrior during a pandemic is not easy or fun, but so far he’s stayed healthy and is grateful to have work.

  2. gallen5555

    August 8, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    per many studies he can wear the N95 mask but would have to wear an outer cloth mask over the N95 to cover the vent. Sounds crazy but he would get the great protection of the N95 but not spread any droplets. I have not tried it for comfort though. The N95s seem too tight for me. But I have only tried the N95s with not vent.

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