Earlier this week, a federal judge in Florida ruled that the longstanding federal mask mandate that requires masking up against COVID-19 was an overreach of authority by the Centers for Disease Control. As a result, mask mandates for planes and public transport were ended. But United CEO Scott Kirby claims that there will be refunds available for anyone who’s still not comfortable with flying.
Kirby was a featured guest on the TODAY Show earlier this morning, where he spoke to the fact that he believes airplanes are “one of” the safest places a person can be in terms of avoiding disease transmission. However, he also recognized that there may be hesitation on the part of many to suddenly drop mandates.
“Our customers should feel free to wear a mask,” Kirby said. “For customers… that are immunocompromised or that have other concerns or issues, we are working with those customers, if they really don’t want to fly, find them another option, give them a credit, or if they just really don’t want to fly again, actually we’ll give them a refund.”
That’s a fairly important statement, because anyone who’s ever tried to seek a refund on a flight knows how difficult that can be. Whether or not receiving a refund is as easy as stating your preference for a masked population remains to be seen — but it’s likely comforting for many to know there can still be a transition period.
Kirby also noted that it’s “very unlikely” a mask mandate will return in the future, no matter what governmental pushback there may be about this Florida judge’s decision.
United Airlines is also one of the airlines that will be removing customers who were blacklisted during the mask mandate era for refusing to wear their masks.
“Customers that simply refused to wear a mask, what we told them is, ‘You can’t fly United until the mask mandate is over,’” Kirby said, denying that any passenger was banned for life. “We have talked to them individually and many of them assure us that, now that the mask mandate is off, everything is going to be fine, and I trust that the vast majority of them will.”