United, American Airlines and Delta are Joining JetBlue in Requiring Passengers to Wear Face Masks on Flights Effective May 4 (May 11 for AA). JetBlue was the first U.S. airline to require passengers to don face masks during flights, announcing the measure on April 27, for flights starting on May 4, 2020.
Now American Airlines, Delta, Frontier and United Airlines have all also instituted the requirement to wear a face mask on board the flight, and most are also encouraging passengers to wear a face mask while at the airport as well, in line with CDC guidance to wear face coverings in public where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
The good news is that, compared to other public transit options such as trains and buses, or even leisure transport such as cruise ships, most aircraft have high efficiency air particulate (HEPA) filters that remove over 99.9% of particles, including bacteria viruses, with all cabin air changed every 3-5 minutes. And currently most people are wisely avoiding any nonessential flights.
Closely packed seats, especially in the main cabin, however, are antithetical to social distancing, so it's great that U.S. airlines are finally adopting these measures for passengers, in addition to crew members. After all, face masks are primarily about protecting others from the wearer, which is important given the ease of COVID-19 transmission, including by those who are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms.
- Starting May 4, face masks will be required not only on Delta flights, but also in the check-in lobby, Delta SkyClubs, boarding gate, and jetway
- Only exceptions are for meal service and young children
- Passengers will be required to wear face masks on all AA flights starting May 11
- Only exceptions are for young children and those with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering
- Starting May 4, JetBlue will require passengers to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth throughout their journey, including during check-in, boarding, while in flight and deplaning.
- Exempt: Small children who are not able to maintain a face covering
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