Please place your seatbacks and tray tables in their upright position — and put your masks on.
A growing number of major U.S. carriers have mandated that flight attendants wear protective masks during flights, with many airlines also urging passengers to don protective face coverings as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) already recommends that everyone wear a “cloth face covering” in community settings, “including during travel if they must travel.” Unions representing flight attendants and pilots are also championing the idea of requiring masks for everyone onboard, but there is no current mandate from the Federal Aviation Administration for such measures as of yet.
Alaska Airlines writes that “flight attendants may wear gloves and personal masks during service,” but does not indicate whether they are required to do so. Guests are currently encouraged to bring hand sanitizers or disinfectant wipes, but are not otherwise required to wear any personal protective equipment.
On April 27, American Airlines announced that face masks will become a requirement for flight attendants as of May 1. Each mainline flight will also have a designated drawer containing personal protective equipment, including masks and “other sanitizing items,” for use by the crew.
“We are looking out for our customers’ well-being to give them peace of mind while they travel with us,” said Kurt Stache, the senior vice president of customer experience, in a press release. “We’re moving quickly on these enhancements and we’ll continue to improve the travel experience for our customers and team members as we navigate these times together.”
On April 30, American Airlines updated its policy, requiring all passengers to wear facemasks starting on May 11.
Delta Air Lines
In a memo shared with its in-flight and flight operations employees on April 27, Delta Air Lines updated its “mask-wearing guidelines,” requiring that all employees wear face coverings if they are unable to maintain six feet of distance with other employees or passengers.
On April 30, CNBC reported that Delta Airlines will require all passengers to wear facemasks during the flight and while in the check-in area, premium lounges and boarding gate areas. Customers are also reportedly encouraged to wear masks on security lines and in restrooms.
Frontier began mandating that its flight crews wear masks as of April 13. Around the same time, the airline’s CEO issued a mask requirement for all employees, “Regardless of role,” a representative for the airline told Fox News.
On April 30, the airline announced that passengers, too, would be required to wear "face coverings" on all flights, as well as at the ticket counter and gate areas, starting May 8.
Flight attendants are now allowed to wear masks, after previously being told to wear masks “only” when dealing with possibly infected passengers.
The airline is also encouraging guests to follow the CDC’s recommended guidelines while traveling, but does not specifically include the CDC's recommendations for wearing masks during travel on a safety checklist included on the Hawaiian Airlines website.
JetBlue has required all in-flight crew members to wear protective face coverings as of April 17. On April 27, the airline became the first major U.S. carrier to also require all passengers to begin wearing face coverings throughout the entire flight, from check-in through deplaning. Only “small children” will be exempt, the airline confirmed in a press release.
“Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself it’s about protecting those around you,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer of JetBlue, in the announcement. “This is the new flying etiquette. Onboard, cabin air is well circulated and cleaned through filters every few minutes but this is a shared space where we have to be considerate of others. We are also asking our customers to follow these CDC guidelines in the airport as well.”
The new requirements for JetBlue passengers will take effect as of May 4.
Spirit Airlines currently has no guidance on its Coronavirus Information Center regarding masks. However, in a video posted to the webpage, all crew members are seen wearing protective face coverings when interacting with each other, or passengers.
A representative for Spirit was not immediately available to confirm whether masks were a requirement.
Southwest Airlines, while not requiring its flight attendants to wear masks, is “encourage[ing] this practice by offering employees personal protective equipment such as face masks, gloves and sanitizing wipes,” a representative for the airline confirmed to Fox News.
Passengers are also encouraged to wear personal protective equipment, but are not required to by the airline.
“Southwest will continue evaluating and evolving our operational practices to support the well-being of customers and employees during these unprecedented times,” the carrier wrote in a statement.
United Airlines announced on April 23 that all flight attendants are required to wear face masks or coverings while on duty. “This new initiative is in line with the most recent CDC recommendation that says wearing a cloth face covering is advisable when in public and when social distancing is difficult to maintain,” the airline wrote in a safety update.
One week later, on April 30, United confirmed that passengers, too, would be required to wear face coverings as of May 4, and "will provide masks to passengers for free." Previously, United passengers were only encouraged to “use gloves and masks as needed,” per guidance from the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO).