Delta, United, American Airlines will require all passengers to wear face masks
Major airlines are gearing up to require all passengers to wear face masks on flights.
United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue and Frontier Airlines have all laid out new safety requirements on flights in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. With few exceptions, the masks need not be medical-grade — passengers just have to wear a covering over their mouth and nose.
As of May 11, all American Airlines passengers will be required to “wear a face covering (or mask) while on board the aircraft,” the airline said Thursday. All American Airlines flight attendants are now required to wear face masks.
United will begin mandating that passengers wear masks starting Monday; flight attendants have been required to wear masks since April 24, a fact they proudly herald, stating in a release that they were the “first major US airline to require all flight attendants to wear masks on duty.” N95 masks will be available, but will only be allocated to symptomatic customers and flight attendants who directly help them.
Delta will also begin mandating that passengers wear masks, not just on flights but from the check-in lobbyon, beginning Monday. Flight attendants for the airline have been required to wear masks since April 27.
JetBlue led the pack in requiring face coverings for passengers, announcing the new requirement, set to begin Monday. “This new policy will require customers to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth throughout their journey, including during check-in, boarding, while in flight and deplaning,” the company says. “Small children who are not able to maintain a face covering are exempt from this requirement.”
Frontier Airlines said Thursday that customers need to wear face coverings beginning May 8. “We want our passengers to feel comfortable when flying with us by protecting themselves and their fellow travelers as we all navigate the COVID-19 pandemic,” Frontier CEO Barry Biffle said. “This new measure is aligned with CDC recommendations and those of many municipalities within the US that include wearing a face covering when out in public.”
Southwest Airlines, among many other airlines, has not yet announced face-covering requirements.
The Federal Aviation Administration has received pressure to require masks on all airlines, although it is unclear if the FAA has the authority to impose such a requirement. The agency said this week it is “working with air carriers to ensure they have processes in place for addressing public health risks for their crews and passengers.”
The coronavirus has drastically impacted airlines’ finances. United has cut May flights by 90% and expects to report a $2.1 billion pre-tax loss for the first quarter. Delta lost $534 million in the same quarter, and expects to take a 90% hit to revenue this year.
It’s no surprise people are hesitant to fly due to the pandemic, as airplanes provide a uniquely fertile breeding ground for the coronavirus.