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US Lawmakers Call for Mandatory Face Masks on Planes

Although fewer people are flying during the coronavirus, planes are still crowded, making social distancing difficult. In response, democratic lawmakers are calling for federal action to demand that everyone on planes be required to wear face masks.

Currently, it is up to each individual airline whether or not they require their passengers and crew members to wear masks. And, while many airlines require their crew members to wear face masks, only JetBlue and Frontier require their passengers to wear face masks.

On Wednesday, Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar urging them to “immediately issue a rule requiring face masks for all individuals engaged in air travel. In the absence of federal action, different airlines and airports have adopted conflicting policies that will undermine overall public health if they are not unified around a single, strong standard,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, the largest flight attendant union in the United States also sent a letter to the DOT and HHS. Its president, Sara Nelson, told ABC News, “From the airport door to the airplane door, on the airplane, and then back out through the airport, we want people wearing face coverings in all those areas. That is what is recommended by the CDC to the general public when they are out in public, and that is exactly what should be happening in our airports and on our airplanes to help contain the spread of the virus.”

The response to these calls has been varied. The HHS and the DOT have not responded. The FAA said in a statement to ABC News that it is “not a public health agency,” but has lent aviation safety expertise to federal public health authorities. President Donald Trump has said that mandatory masks on planes sounds “like a good idea.”

weero May 6, 2020

Goven that masks offer a significant reduction in the infection efficiency, I could live with that. But please, please amend it with: no one with a raised temperature and no one who coughs flies. If you have a fever or cough you will be deplaned no matter what medical reason you come up with for it. Coughers are spreaders.


Just another thing to make flying miserable. This would make me think twice about flying if a destination were remotely drivable. Right now, while the virus has a higher incidence, I can see some logic behind a TEMPORARY rule. But permanently when this crisis is past? That is a complete overreaction. We have largely gone a century without a widescale need for masks in our day to day lives. They are uncomfortable and hot and, for those of us who wear glasses, we have issues with our glasses fogging when wearing them. In fact, since I started wearing one to the grocery store, I find myself touching my face MORE as I feel the need to adjust the mask. Hopefully, this is an idea borne of hysteria that will subside as the pandemic passes into history. (And I too am not shocked that the two senators who suggested this had a D beside their name and were from the northeast part of the country.)

cmd320 May 4, 2020

Masks are completely useless. Nothing but safety theatre.

craig44485 May 2, 2020

Won't take long for the airlines to figure out a way to monetize this, include it in their FFP status levels. Top tier elites get free N95 masks, lower tier get the plain surgical masks for free, of course you can always pay to upgrade from the standard surgical mask to the N95 masks or use points. No status? You have to pay for your own masks, Pay online in advance will be cheaper than paying at the ticket counter. Certainly each airline will have masks issued to match their livery, as an additional way of advertising.

Dublin_rfk May 2, 2020

What else could you expect from a couple of mental midgets? Well I suppose that in typical little d form they could have ‘suggested’ that people be paid to wear the masks.