While CDC Drops Covering Requirements for the Vaccinated, Face Coverings Still Required on Aircraft

While CDC Drops Covering Requirements for the Vaccinated, Face Coverings Still Required on Aircraft
Joe Cortez

Even though the Centers for Disease Control have indicated life can return “back to normal” for vaccinated flyers, face coverings remain mandatory for flyers. The Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Safety Administration are reminding flyers that face masks are mandatory at the airport and on commercial aircraft.

Although COVID-19 vaccination rates are continuing to climb and airlines are well on their way to restoring flights, the mandate for wearing face coverings aboard flights isn’t going away anytime soon. The Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration are reminding flyers they will still be obligated to wear face coverings both in the airport terminal and aboard their aircraft.

CDC Drops Face Covering Rules Nearly Everywhere But Public Transportation

On May 16, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced those who have been fully vaccinated against the novel Coronavirus causing the COVID-19 infection could “resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.” This includes activities without wearing a face mask, staying six feet apart from people and travel within the United States.

However, regardless of vaccination status, face coverings are still required by airports, airlines and government regulations. The CDC rule requiring flyers to wear face masks is still in effect – and both the FAA and TSA are reminding flyers there could be penalties if you refuse to wear a covering.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) remind the traveling public that at this time if you travel, you are still required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.”
–Joint Statement from the FAA and TSA

In addition, while COVID-19 testing is not required for domestic travel, anyone returning to the United States will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding an inbound flight. While self-quarantine is not required for vaccinated travelers, it’s recommended that all flyers still get tested within three-to-five days after return.

Airlines are also continuing their internal policies mandating all flyers wear face coverings. Those who do not comply may be refused service, or even banned from the aircraft. To date, airlines have collectively banned over 4,000 passengers until the pandemic ends.

With Growing Vaccine Numbers, Airlines Expand to Pre-Pandemic Traffic

According to the latest CDC data, over 47 percent of the American population has received one vaccine dose, while 37 percent are considered fully vaccinated. As a result, airlines are planning for increased passenger confidence in travel and are resuming both domestic and international routes. Southwest Airlines is expanding their routes to Hawaii with new service from, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix starting in June 2021, while United Airlines is planning to add 400 flights to the July 2021 schedule.

View Comments (8)


  1. jamesteroh

    May 18, 2021 at 8:37 am

    Do away with the mask mandates and require people to be vaxed to fly instead.

  2. sfoeuroflyer

    May 18, 2021 at 10:01 am

    As far as risks are concerned, the mask requirement for flying is plainly nonsense. Consider this: 95 million Americans have been vaccinated. Of those there have been only 934 hospitalizations, 30% of which have been either for other reasons or people who are asymptomatic. The air in a plane is vastly safer than in a normal indoor setting as the air is circulated and filtered. So for the vaccinated, the mask requirement accomplishes ZERO. Nothing. As vaccine is now available for everyone, indeed the worry has shifted to persuading people to get vaccinated and concerns about wasted vaccine, there is no excuse for not being vaccinated. Those who are unvaccinated have made a conscious decision to bear the risk flowing from that. Why should vaccinated people wear uncomfortable masks because of decision by others to take a risk. The irrationality of this is stunning.

  3. Counsellor

    May 19, 2021 at 7:50 am

    So, even though the Government officially says they’re not needed for vaccinated folks, and even though no study ever has found that the masks can capture or divert viruses, everyone on an airplane (possibly except 2 years old and under) is required to wear them anyway. Sounds like bureaucrat “intelligence” at work again.

  4. equals42

    May 19, 2021 at 8:13 am

    Well, under 12 cannot be vaccinated so it complicates the “everyone flying should” angle. I’m flying Aer Lingus ORD-DUB-BER in early July with my family and we’re all vaxxed except 9yo. We are in business with plenty of space around us but with current rules will have to try to sleep with a mask on. I’m afraid I’ll not be able to sleep. I usually put in a sleep mask for my eyes and some ear plugs but now I might as well tie a (dark) pillow case over my head.

    Hope they change this rule so we can sleep in peace if you’re vaxxed. I would be fine with a vax requirement for 12 and over to fly.

  5. SamirD

    May 19, 2021 at 10:51 am

    There is a wave of mutant strains coming from Asia–and all of this lack of protection is setting up the stage for another round of lockdowns and deaths once it hits here hard.

  6. SaltyGB

    May 20, 2021 at 11:36 am

    I am not an epidemiologist nor am I medical historian, but I am not aware of any vaccine to date that is (or was) 100% effective for 100% of the population with 0% suffering side effects and fully protective for every future mutation. I am a scientist and engineer though, and I believe I understand probability and risk.

    As others have stated, the risk to and from fully vaccinated people is very, very low and well below other risks that we freely accept, so the Government mandates that are inconsistent with science, which clearly cannot be demonstrated to be proportionally protective to the cost and inconvenience, are simply without merit and worthy of challenge.

    It is a simple solution that requires Zero government input, if you are concerned about the virus, then either say home or wear whatever PPE you think will reduce YOUR risk to an acceptable level…don’t require me to do that for you!

  7. arunhn

    May 20, 2021 at 9:21 pm

    Honestly, if you don’t get vaccinated, just don’t fly. The rest of us don’t need to suffer this crappy face mask on a 4 hour flight because of clowns who refuse to get vaccinated.

  8. Ratnasdiary

    June 11, 2021 at 7:48 am

    Unless everyone is fully vaccinated, following safety measures is important. It’ still risky otherwise.

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