There have been a number of important announcements this week concerning wearing a mask while on airplanes.
Since January 2021, based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has required all passengers and crews to wear a face mask on airplanes to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Earlier this week, however, a federal judge struck down the mandate.
Since then, following a recommendation by the CDC, the Justice Department has filed an appeal to the ruling. In the meantime, though, some airlines quickly dropped their mask requirements.
What’s more, some airlines have even begun to welcome back some — but not all — of the passengers who they had previously banned from flying for not wearing a mask.
Here’s a look at who those airlines will allow to resume flying:
United Airlines has announced it will now allow passengers it had banned for not following mask requirements to fly again.
“On a case-by-case basis, we will allow some customers who were previously banned for failing to comply with mask-related rules to fly United again — after ensuring their commitment to follow all crewmember instructions on board,” United announced, according to CNN.
So far, United has banned approximately 1,000 passengers for breaking mask rules. When asked about which passengers can now fly on United again, a spokesperson replied, “We don’t have anything additional to share on this, as we do not share specifics of our internal security policies and procedures,” according to USA Today.
Delta Air Lines
Delta announced earlier this week that it too will begin allowing passengers who were previously banned from flying for “mask non-compliance” back on its airplanes.
Indeed, the airline announced that it will restore flight privileges for customers who demonstrate “an understanding of their expected behavior when flying with us,” according to NBC News.
“Any further disregard for the policies that keep us all safe will result in placement on Delta’s permanent no-fly list,” the company said. “Customers who demonstrated egregious behavior and are already on the permanent no-fly list remain barred from flying with Delta.”
American has also announced it will allow most passengers barred from flying due to mask noncompliance “to resume travel at some point in time,” said Nate Gatten, American’s chief government affairs officer, CNN reports.
“In cases where an incident may have started with face mask noncompliance and escalated into anything involving something more serious, or certainly an assault on one of our key members or customers, those passengers are going to remain on our permanent internal refuse list and will never be allowed to travel with us again,” Gatten said.
Alaska Airlines has banned approximately 1,700 passengers from flying because they violated the airline’s mask requirements. Now, however, it will allow some of those passengers to resume flying on its planes.
“Now that the mask policy has been overturned, guests who were banned solely for mask noncompliance will be allowed to purchase tickets on our flights,” said Cailee Olson, Alaska’s media relations manager, USA Today reports. “However, some guests whose behavior was particularly egregious will remain banned.”
A Reminder About Behavior
Airlines have reported more than 7,000 incidents of disruptive passengers to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) since the start of 2021. Perhaps not surprisingly, more than 66 percent of those cases involved passengers who refused to wear a mask. For instance, in 2021 alone, the FAA notes it has received 4,290 reports of mask-related incidents.
Earlier this week, the FAA announced it will make its zero tolerance policy against unruly passengers permanent. Under that policy, the FAA issues fines to passengers for unruly behavior instead of warning letters or counseling. Furthermore, those cases may result in criminal investigations and even prosecution.
“Behaving dangerously on a plane will cost you; that’s a promise,” said acting FAA administrator Billy Nolen. “Unsafe behavior simply does not fly and keeping our zero tolerance policy will help us continue making progress to prevent and punish this behavior.”
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