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Calls Rise to End Face Mask Mandate, Stop Proposed No-Fly List

With the national public transportation face mask mandate scheduled to come to an end in March 2022, one former aviation leader is calling for it not to be renewed – while a major newspaper is pushing against a no-fly list for unruly passengers.
As the world slowly returns to normal after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, two major voices are calling for the national public transportation face mask mandate to end, along with stopping the proposed unruly passenger no-fly list.


In an editorial published to Forbes, former Spirit Airlines chief executive Ben Baldanza argues that the mandate should be allowed to end without further extension.


Former Spirit Executive Cites Passenger Safety, Return to Normalcy for Ending Mask Mandate

In his editorial, Baldanza notes current societal attitudes towards face masks in public, pointing out that very few attendees of the 2022 State of the Union Address wore coverings in the halls of Congress. With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reporting over 81% of the U.S. population having at least one vaccine dose combined with many places dropping face mask requirements, continuing the face covering mandate may not continue to protect flyers.


“The recent update of CDC’s guidance gave hope to those who want mask mandates removed,” Baldanza wrote, while pointing to the CDC COVID data tracker website. “The challenge for this as it relates to airlines is that you may be flying from one risk region to another, and in between there is no formal risk assessment for the airports or the plane itself…Yet for those who want it removed, the new guidance does show more tolerance for removing masks in many situations.”


Moreover, Baldanza says the face mask mandate may have ultimately caused more problems than it intended to. Data from the Federal Aviation Administration shows airlines reported nearly 6,000 unruly passenger reports, with the majority of them based on face covering requirements. Although the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA expects the face mask mandate to continue, Baldanza claims an extension could create an even larger hazard.


“By [expecting a face mask mandate extension, the AFA-CWA] are saying that safety from the virus is more risky than being punched in the face, as was done to a Southwest flight attendant,” Baldanza wrote. “Given that masks protect the individual as well as transmitting to others, flight attendants could continue wearing masks while letting the passenger mandate drop. This might be the safest answer of all, considering all dangers related.”


Chicago Tribune Asks Airlines to Reconsider No-Fly List

It isn’t just the face mask mandate that thought leaders are asking to drop. An article published by the Chicago Tribune editorial board is calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation and the FAA to not consider creating a national no-fly list for unruly passengers. The editorial board claims if airlines are allowed to submit flyers to a national no-fly list, it could lead to an overarching civil rights issue.

“A new no-fly list would give the airlines a powerful tool for the same kind of overreach, racial profiling and violations of due process,” the board wrote in their editorial. “Reminding us of the Chicago Police Department’s shamefully bloated and inaccurate database of alleged gang members.

The national no-fly list was proposed by Delta Air Lines chief executive Ed Bastian, with meetings reportedly held to discuss its implementation. Neither the airlines nor federal officials have publicly commented on the mask mandate expiration date or the development of a no-fly list.

PointsPanda March 17, 2022

Why not just split up the plane between people who do or don't want to wear a mask, or have mask flights and no-mask flights. 

I always wondered why they didn't do the same thing for flights with kids "kid friendly flights" or flights with dogs "dog friendly flights" etc. Seems like common sense. 

lancelot21 March 15, 2022

The article hardly seems balanced. One editorial in Forbes, one in the Chicago Tribune...and the headline (and tone of the article) is "Calls rise to end mask mandate..." etc.

Personally, I support both the mask mandate and the no-fly list. COVID's not done yet, and plenty of people are still vulnerable because of pre-existing conditions (not counting the unvaxxed, who are vulnerable by choice). Why not help protect others?

And violence/unruliness at 35,000 feet is scary for everyone, not just the FAs.

jcmalcolm March 11, 2022

As the Flight Attendants have gleefully embraced further controls and ways to make flying even less comfortable, they are now like the Teacher's Unions.
Both could care less about the customer.

health1au March 11, 2022

April 18 now, JUST as I predicted. 
And if you really think it will end on April 18, think again. 

We must extend the mask mandate because.... Putin! Or the bogeyman of the day. 
But it won't end on April 18 either. You will gradually submit. 

st3 March 10, 2022

The no fly list is long past overdue.

As far as the mask mandate goes, I support it, but I know that public support is waning. I can see myself wearing one even after it is lifted.