A flight attendant’s song of joy is going viral less than a day after a federal judge struck down the Centers For Disease control mask mandates for air travel and other public transit.
The video was posted to Twitter and has been viewed over 400,000 times since it was uploaded last night. The airline and flight destination are unknown. The attendant’s enthusiasm isn’t the only thing that’s infectious as he walked the fuselage belting out “throw away your masks!” to passengers.
The federal mask mandate was struck down yesterday by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle on the grounds that the CDC had failed to justify its mask mandates or follow proper policymaking.
Flight attendants have plenty of reason to sing, and also to be worried. First, they are no long tasked with enforcing a federal mandate in-between safety checks and doling out soda. Mask compliance has fueled the incredible jump in unruly passenger incidents on planes since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Before COVID, unruly passenger reports were barely a blip on the industry’s radar and now, as of this writing for 2022, flight crews have reported 1,150 incidents of unruly passengers, with 744 related to mask mandates. These unruly passengers have attacked and sexually assaulted flight crews and fellow passengers so much over masks that the mandate turned flight attendant, a dream job for many, into a nightmare.
The problem is so bad that the CEOs of major airlines wrote a letter to the Biden administration urging a rollback of the mask mandate for flights. Experts advised caution with repealing the mandate, according to CBS:
Mercedes Carnethon, vice chair of the department of preventive medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said that for most healthy Americans who are vaccinated against COVID-19, eliminating masks on flights is unlikely to pose a serious risk. But the calculation changes if you’re seated near someone infected with disease.
“Air quality is good on an airplane. However, when you’re sitting side by side with someone who has a COVID infection, perhaps someone 10 rows behind you won’t contract it, but it won’t protect the person sitting next to you,” Carnethon told CBS MoneyWatch.
However, airlines in Europe which did away with mask mandates earlier in April are now facing crew shortages as record numbers call in sick with COVID-19. Take the budget European airliner EasyJet, which did away with its mask rules in March, according to CBS:
Between March 28 and April 3, EasyJet cancelled 202 of its 3,517 flights scheduled to depart from the U.K., according to data provided to CBS MoneyWatch from Cirium, an aviation analytics company. By comparison, the carrier cancelled zero flights departing from the U.K. during the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.
An EasyJet spokesperson attributed the increase in cancelled flights to “higher than usual staff sickness levels” due to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases across Europe.
“As a result, we have made pre-emptive cancellations so customers can be notified in advance of travel and are able to move easily onto alternative flights,” the spokesperson said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch.
United Airlines canceled hundreds of flights during the busy December travel season this year due to staff shortages caused by the Omicron COVID-19 variant, and that was with the mask mandate. With travel season ramping up and pent-up demand from COVID lockdowns finally being released, we could see more snarls at airports in the future.
Personally, I’m wearing a mask everywhere I go. Not getting a cold or a flu for two years due to protecting myself from COVID-19 made me realize just how nasty the world is. We wouldn’t need masks if grown human beings could wash their hands and cover their COVID holes when they coughed. Until we can be trusted to do that much, I’m going to mask up.