Do you still need to wear masks when on airplanes? The USA Today reports that many airlines have dropped the requirements recently.
The mask mandate in airports and airplanes officially ended on Monday, April 18. The CDC announced a two-week extension to change the date to May 3, allowing more time to study the latest subvariant of the coronavirus. A federal judge in Florida ruled against this change, and many airlines are dropping the mandate. Could this be the beginning of returning to average travel experiences on airplanes?
Five Extensions Was One Too Many
The mask mandate on airplanes was extended successfully four different times. The court ruling changed this, and airlines began to implement this change immediately. The order was extended four times successfully, but not a fifth time. This comes nearly two years after many airlines began requiring passengers to protect themselves as much as possible during flights. Of course, this started with many flights that were canceled entirely when the COVID-19 pandemic began. It certainly didn’t take long for airlines to see the ruling as an opportunity to allow passengers the comfort they’ve desired for the past two years.
The First to Change was JetBlue
JetBlue was the first airline to remove masks as a required part of air travel. Once they announced the change, other airlines quickly did the same. Indeed, this change is a relief to the airlines and those required to manage each flight. The only thing that seems worse than being told you must wear a mask during a flight is being the person on the plane that has to enforce this policy upon the passengers, many of whom disagree with the procedure but want to travel via airplane from one place to another.
Passengers and Flight Crew Found Out While Onboard
The ruling from the Florida Federal Judge came as news to many aboard current flights. Without official information about airline policy changes, flight crews had to check with company authorities to find out about policy changes. Some airlines changed the policy so quickly that masks became optional on some flights, while others didn’t change their approach until the next day, April 19. As you can imagine, those in disagreement with the policy celebrated with a big smile that could be shown without the mask once the procedure for their chosen airline changed.
Do You Still Need to Wear Masks on Airplanes?
With any policy or guidance, each company can enforce stricter policies but not have more lenient programs for their passengers. Just because the federal mandate ended doesn’t mean the airline you choose won’t require you to wear a protective covering over your mouth and nose during the flight. Let’s take a quick look at what different airlines need. This could impact your next flight.
No mask policy remains for customers and employees at US airports and domestic flights. If local ordinances require these protective coverings to be worn, they will be. Customers and staff are still allowed to wear face protection at their discretion.
Masks are now optional for all passengers in US airports and on aircraft. Travelers using Delta can also continue to wear face coverings if they desire but are not required to do so. Airport signage is updated to reflect this change effectively.
Everyone aboard United Airlines domestic flights can abstain from wearing face coverings. These impact select international flights depending upon the arrival country’s requirements. This is another airline that makes these face coverings optional for passengers and staff.
The option to wear or not to wear masks is present for all Southwest flights. This means each individual can make their own decision regarding wearing face coverings. Southwest went as far as to ask that other travelers respect the right to make this choice.
This is yet another airline where face coverings are optional and not required. This impacts US domestic flights effective immediately. Local port guidance must still be observed, which means if these items are needed in the local area, passengers and staff must wear them.
JetBlue was the first to change the policy and does not require passengers or employees to wear face coverings any longer. They will no longer make announcements regarding the mandate and enforce it for customers or airline employees.
Consistency continues as Frontier no longer requires masks to be worn by passengers or employees unless traveling on an international flight that does need these items to be worn during travel. This requirement is dependent upon the arrival/departure country’s regulations.
Once again, wearing face coverings is optional for passengers and crews. Some customers may still desire to wear these coverings, and Spirit supports this right to make this decision. They ask that other passengers respect the conclusion of each individual on these flights.
The mask mandate is no longer being enforced for passengers or employees on Allegiant Airlines. This airline further states that if the guidance changes again, they will adjust their policy accordingly. Passengers and employees can still wear face coverings should they choose to do so.
It Seems Pretty Consistent
As you can see from this list of airlines, the new policy regarding wearing masks in airports and on airlines is pretty consistent. If the airline you want to use is not on this list, you’ll need to consult their policy if you don’t want to wear a mask.
This change does not mean that passengers who want to wear a mask during a flight don’t have that option. This is a choice you can make for yourself, and now those that don’t want to wear them can also make this choice. For many, this change signals the beginning of getting back to normal and enjoying the world the way we did before the pandemic.
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