It’s not just flight attendants who are singing the praises of the federal mask mandate repeal on air travel and public transit; airlines are humming a different tune Tuesday morning as well, with every major carrier in the U.S. making masks optional for passengers and crew.
From Alaska Airlines to United, American carriers are making the cloth coverings optional on all flights after Monday’s ruling from a federal judge that the Centers For Disease Control and other federal agencies had overreached their authority in implementing the mandates. From CNN:
American Airlines (AAL) said “face masks will no longer be required for our customers and team members at U.S. airports and on domestic flights.”
“Please note face masks may still be required based on local ordinances, or when traveling to/from certain international locations based on country requirements,” it said.
Alaska Airlines said some of its passengers who were banned from the airline during the duration of the mask policy will continue to be prohibited from its planes.
Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, said on its website that employees and customers could “choose whether they would like to wear a mask, and we encourage individuals to make the best decision to support their personal wellbeing.”
It also said it would “continue supporting the comfort of those who travel with us by offering additional layers of protection.”
JetBlue (JBLU) said in a tweet Monday that mask wearing will be optional within the United States. “While no longer required, customers and crewmembers may continue wearing masks in our terminals and on board our aircraft,” the company tweeted.
Budget airlines like Spirit and JetBlue have also followed suit, along with small regional carriers. CEOs of the 10 largest airlines asked the Biden administration to end the mask mandates on flights in March, but the Centers For Disease Control had requested the mandate be extended until early May. A federal judge in Floria ruled the mandate an overreach of federal power and a clumsy act of policymaking.
Masks must still be worn on planes for some international flights however, depending on where you are flying. The ruling also affects airport employees, who will no longer be required to wear masks and passengers and employees on Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses.
I appreciate Alaska Airlines keeping passengers who threw fits over mask requirements off of planes. Disagreeing with a federal mandate is one thing; making it everyone else’s problem by delaying flights over your tantrum or even attacking crew and other passengers should come with a lifetime ban. The Airline also clarified that while masks are optional, those who choose to wear them should be treated with respect by fellow passengers.