Trade group Airlines for America came out with a strong notice last night – and if you’re one of those passengers who doesn’t wear a face mask when flying, this will be important.
The groups’ member will be enforcing the requirement to wear a face covering.
Members including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines will be implementing the following policy updates regarding face coverings:
- Preflight Communications: Each airline will clearly articulate its individual face-covering policy in communications with customers, which may require passengers to acknowledge the specific rules during the check-in process.
- Onboard Announcements: Onboard the aircraft, crew members will announce specific details regarding the carrier’s face covering policy including the consequences passengers could face for violating the policy.
- Consequences for Noncompliance: Each carrier will determine the appropriate consequences for passengers who are found to be in noncompliance of the airline’s face covering policy up to and including suspension of flying privileges on that airline.
Let’s pull out the consequences part:
- Airlines will be able to determine consequences for not wearing a mask when requested to.
- Airlines will be able to put you on their own “no-fly” list should you not comply.
The measures that Airlines for America are putting down are expected to last through COVID-19.
And airlines have already taken heed, with American Airlines and United Airlines ready to take action.
American Airlines – Effective 16th June
Currently, American Airlines enforces the policy of wearing mask both onboard and at the gate – and will deny boarding to customers who don’t comply.
American now may also deny future travel for customers who refuse to wear a face covering. American made this change after working in conjunction with Airlines for America on an industrywide response.
The airline believes the face-covering requirement is important, so customers will notice more reminders of our policy as they travel with us, both at the airport and in flight.
Some passengers are exempt from the face-covering requirement, such as young children and those with a disability or medical reason for why they cannot wear a face covering.
The policy also does not apply while eating or drinking.
United Airlines – Effective 18th June
Starting on June 18, any passenger that does not comply when onboard a United flight will be placed on an internal travel restriction list. Customers on this list will lose their travel privileges on United for a duration of time to be determined pending a comprehensive incident review.
United Airlines currently requires all passengers to wear a face-covering onboard its flights and expects that policy to remain in place for at least the next 60 days.
The only exceptions to this policy are individuals who have a medical condition or a disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering, those who cannot put on or remove a face covering themselves and small children.
Customers are expected to wear a mask for the duration of the flight, except when eating or drinking.
A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio said
“U.S. airlines are very serious about requiring face coverings on their flights. Carriers are stepping up enforcement of face coverings and implementing substantial consequences for those who do not comply with the rules,”
“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.”
No Mask = No Fly
With airlines threatening to suspend flying rights/no-fly lists, the advice is pretty clear.
WEAR A MASK AT ALL TIMES WHEN YOU CHOOSE TO FLY
And of course, sanitise your hands regularly (either by washing your hands or using hand sanitiser.
The World Health Organisation has advice on face masks and coverings is at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-on-covid-19-and-masks. Their overall advice for fabric face masks:
Non-medical, fabric masks are being used by many people in public areas, but there has been limited evidence on their effectiveness and WHO does not recommend their widespread use among the public for control of COVID-19. However, for areas of widespread transmission, with limited capacity for implementing control measures and especially in settings where physical distancing of at least 1 metre is not possible – such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments – WHO advises governments to encourage the general public to use non-medical fabric masks.
If there’s anywhere in the world where staying 6ft/2 meters apart is going to be not possible – it’s going to be aboard an aircraft. Whilst aircraft are pretty safe places – thanks to HEPA filters and onboarding cleaning, you cannot reduce the distance between people.
And if you do feel ill – the message remains clear Stay at home.
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