United and American Airlines to Ban Passengers Who Refuse Face Masks

United and American Airlines to Ban Passengers Who Refuse Face Masks

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United, American Airlines and Other U.S. Airlines May Ban Passengers if They Refuse to Wear Face Masks. The industry trade group Airlines for America announced that all its member airlines will enforce face mask policies, requiring passengers to wear masks that cover their nose and mouth not only when boarding, but also during the flight, except when eating or drinking.

A passenger who refuses to comply and doesn't fall under an exception, such as a medical disability, could be banned from flying that airline for a period of time.

Airlines for America's members include:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines

Since May 4, United Airlines has required passengers to wear face masks although United hasn't been very good about blocking middle seats. United recently announced that effective June 18, any passenger who does not wear a face mask when onboard a United flight will be placed on an internal travel restriction list. Initially, United flight crew will inform a non-compliant passenger that face coverings are mandatory for everyone's health and safety, and offer the passenger a mask if needed. If the passenger still refuses to wear a face mask, the flight crew will give the passenger an In-Flight Mask policy reminder card. Only if the passenger still refuses will flight crew file an incident report, with a formal review process. The decision to ban a passenger will be taken subsequent to the flight. The ban is likely to last as long as the face covering requirement is in place, which is likely to be for months.

American Airlines has said that, as with most other U.S. airlines, it won't permit passengers to board without a face mask on, and “may also deny future travel for customers who refuse to wear a face covering.”

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Pilot and flight crew unions support the airlines becoming stricter with enforcing face mask wearing on board, as the measures affect not only passengers' health but also crew members'. That said, they'd like the requirement to be federal law, although the FAA has declined, saying it lacks the authority to regulate public health.

Because most airlines have specifically instructed their flight crews to de-escalate situations where a passenger refuses to wear a mask, and noted that a passenger who complies with all other crew instructions except for mask wearing does not constitute grounds for turning an aircraft back to the gate or diverting a flight to land, as other passenger disturbances might.

If you've been on a flight recently on a U.S. airline, were all passengers wearing face masks?

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