No Mask, No Flight: What Major Airlines Want You to Know

Airlines Enforce Face Masks

Wear a mask.
Don’t wear a mask.
Wear a mask!

It was a bit confusing when the pandemic began regarding the use of face masks with some of the information flying around between the CDC, WHO, and other experts.  And the latest update from TSA says we’ll need to comply a bit longer since we can’t “blink” ourselves to Mexico or ask Scotty to “beam us” down to the Caribbean.  And, the latest is that the FAA is leaving the guidelines up to the airlines vs making face masks mandatory.

TSA extended the mask mandate through April 18.   We’ll have to see if will be extended again and we’ll update this as we find out more.

In a nutshell:  In order to protect passengers, staff and crew members, Airlines for America (the organization that represents the major U.S. carriers including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines), indicated that travelers must wear a face mask in order to fly.  To be clear, the mask must cover your nose and mouth.

Wearing a Face Mask

According to Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio, “Face coverings are one of several public health measures recommended by the CDC as an important layer of protection for passengers and customer-facing employees.”

So….wearing a Check Pricesprotective face mask, for now, will be like wearing your seat belt.  In order to reduce the risk for everyone, it is a requirement to fly from your origination to your destination and all touchpoints prior to boarding and beyond arrival.

Some travelers may have thought that wearing a face mask was merely a suggestion, hence the latest news on the enforcement of this policy.

Airlines are serious about enforcement, which includes communicating the policy prior to your flight, onboard announcements including what non-compliance means, and what course of action will occur if passengers don’t comply. This would likely include being banned from future flights (at least until this policy changes).  This is one list you don’t want to be on!

Delta Airlines began its face mask requirement in May, which begins in the check-in lobby and at all touchpoints thereafter.  These requirements are all in line with CDC’s guidelines.  United Airlines says they’ll give you a mask if you don’t bring your own, which is encouraged.  If a passenger refuses to wear a mask after boarding then security will investigate upon arrival – this could ultimately ban a passenger from travel on future flights. And, American Airlines enforces this policy at the gate, and noncompliance could mean denied boarding as well as future travel bans.

What Major U.S. Airlines Are Doing for Passengers

Airlines for America also said that we’ll see enhanced cleaning protocols at check-in counters and gate areas and may see plexiglass shields by the counters and physical distancing, of course.   Each major airline has implemented its own protocols so it’s best to review each of their guidelines.

Airlines have aircraft equipped with HEPA filters and electrostatic spraying procedures to disinfect work areas. You’ll also board from the back of the aircraft to the front.  You likely won’t see beverage service either (and, no alcohol).  And all team members will, of course, be wearing face masks.

You’ll likely see empty middle seats as American is keeping 50% of their middle seats empty and Southwest Airlines is also keeping middle seats open through at least September 30th.

What Passengers Can Do for Healthy Travel

  • Wear a face mask to cover your nose and mouth (there are some exemptions, check with your airline)
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Practice physical distancing
  • Stay home if you’re ill
  • Review the “Fly Healthy, Fly Smart” Awareness Campaign for more insight on traveling in the “new normal”

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More Reading:

Airlines Take Action
How Cloth Face Coverings Work
Only ‘guidelines’: FAA won’t make wearing of face masks on airlines mandatory

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About Donna Adinolfi 248 Articles
Donna Adinolfi is a wellness travel expert, a freelance writer, an award-winning photographer, and the founder/publisher of Her 30+ year career includes serving as the Travel & Spa Editor of Balance Magazine as well as planning wellness travel & retreats. An avid fan of the freedom from carrying cash or credit cards, Donna loves to visit all-inclusive wellness resorts in the U.S, and traveling to some of Mexico's and the Caribbean's many all-inclusive resorts several times each year. She's also a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association.
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