June 23, 2021

U.S. airlines get tough on face masks

By Bev Fearis, published 17/06/20

U.S. airlines are stepping up the enforcement of face masks on flights, warning that those who don’t comply could be banned from flying.

Trade industry group Airlines for America (A4A) said its members – Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines – will now be ‘vigorously enforcing’ face covering policies.

Nearly all airlines now have a mandatory mask policy for crew and passengers but it has been unclear how they would enforce it.

But in a statement this week, A4A said each carrier will determine the appropriate consequences for non-compliant passengers and this includes the suspension of flying privileges on that airline.

A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio added: “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.”

In a separate statement, United Airlines confirmed that passengers who fail to wear masks might be banned ‘for a duration of time to be determined pending a comprehensive incident review’.

United has also become the first major US airline to ask all passengers to complete a health self-assessment at check-in.

Based on recommendations from the Cleveland Clinic, the checklist asks customers to confirm they have not experienced COVID-19-related symptoms in the 14 days before flying.

It also asks customers to confirm they are willing to abide by the airline’s other safety protocols, including wearing a face covering.

United said customers who are not able to confirm these requirements and choose not to travel will be able to reschedule their flight.

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