U.S. Airlines And Travel Agencies Drop Face Mask Policy

Apr 19, 2022

The bulk of U.S. airlines have wasted no time in dropping mask mandates in response to yesterday’s court ruling striking down the April 13th extension of the transport mask policy.

On Monday, US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) transportation mask mandate extension was “unlawful”. In the court order, Judge Mizelle wrote:

“In pursuit of that end, the CDC issued the mask mandate. But the mandate exceeded the CDC statutory authority, improperly invoked the good cause exception to notice and comment rulemaking, and failed to adequately explain its decisions. Because our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in the pursuit of desirable ends, the court declares unlawful and vacates the mask mandate.”

The Justice Department has said it will appeal the decision subject to CDC’s conclusion that the order remains necessary for public health (i.e. if they need a further extension beyond May 3), but many U.S. airlines and associated transportation agencies have already dropped their respective mask policies. Most have said that mask wearing is optional, but still advised customers to use them out of an abundance of caution.

The new ruling means that airlines will no longer enforce them on domestic flights, and on flights to other countries that do not require masks usage on board (e.g. to England for instance). If you are traveling internationally (yes, that includes Canada), please check with your airline as to whether a mask will be required or not. Also note that some airports may still enforce mask policies within certain sections such as the check-in area or arrivals lounge, so have a mask handy just in case. Below is a list of airlines and agencies that have officially commented about the matter. The article will be updated accordingly as new information arises.

Alaska Airlines

Face masks have been like boarding passes for nearly two years — you couldn’t fly without one. But, as of today, masks are optional in airports and onboard aircraft, effective immediately.

Due to a judicial decision in our federal court system, the mask mandate has been overturned, which means our guests and employees have the option to wear a mask while traveling in the U.S. and at work.

Note: Guests must continue to wear masks on flights both to and from Canada.

Safety is always our highest priority, so while we love to see your smiling faces in the airport and on board, we respect your decision to keep using this added layer of protection. Above all, we hope you’ll treat each other with kindness and respect throughout the travel journey and beyond.

Allegiant Air

Consistent with yesterday’s federal court ruling and updated TSA guidance, Allegiant will no longer enforce the federal mask mandate. Should the guidance change, we will adjust our policy accordingly. Passengers and employees still have the option to wear masks in airports and on aircraft if they so choose.

American Airlines

American Airlines has prioritized the health and safety of its team members and customers throughout the pandemic and has supported the federal government’s measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. In accordance with the Transportation Security Administration no longer enforcing the federal face mask mandate, 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. In keeping with our commitment to creating a welcoming environment for everyone who travels with us, customers and team members may choose to continue to wear masks at their own discretion.

We are deeply grateful to our team members for their enforcement of the mandate, and will share more information about this transition in the coming days.

Avelo Airlines

Per the CDC new ruling, we will no longer require masks for Customers or Crewmembers in airport terminals or onboard our aircraft. We want our Customers and Crewmembers to be as comfortable as possible, so if they still want to wear their masks that is fine with us.

Delta Air Lines

Following the ruling of a U.S. district court judge on Monday, the Biden administration announced that the Transportation Security Administration will no longer enforce the federal mandate requiring masks in all U.S. airports and on board aircraft. Effective immediately, masks are optional for all airport employees, crew members and customers inside U.S. airports and on board all aircraft domestically, as well as on most international flights.

Delta employees and customers may continue wearing masks if they so choose. Wearing a well-fitting mask protects the wearer, even if others around them are not wearing masks.

Frontier Airlines

To mask or not to mask, the choice is yours. Masks are now optional on domestic flights, however, certain airports or countries may still require masks, so check the policy at your destination prior to departure and we’ll see you in the sky. (via Frontier Facebook post).

Hawaiian Airlines

In alignment with TSA’s Security Directive, face masks are now optional for our guests and employees onboard Hawaiian Airlines flights. We advise travelers to stay informed and follow mask requirements that may remain in effect at their origin or arrival airports. Guests who wish to continue wearing face masks are welcome to do so. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we update our communications and announcements to reflect this change.

JetBlue

In line with Monday’s federal court ruling and the Transportation Security Administration’s guidance, mask wearing will now be optional on JetBlue. While no longer required, customers and crewmembers are welcome to continue wearing masks in our terminals and on board our aircraft.

Regardless of the U.S. rule change, customers and crewmembers who are traveling internationally should always have a mask with them in case they continue to be required at their destination.

We are working to proactively share this update with our customers and crewmembers, so please be patient as we update our communications.

Southwest Airlines

On Monday, a federal judge issued a decision stating the federal mask mandate for public transportation, including on airlines and at airports, is no longer in effect. Thereafter, the White House announced the masking order is not in effect, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will not enforce the federal mask mandate at this time.

As a result of this development, effective immediately, Southwest Employees and Customers will be able to choose whether they would like to wear a mask on flights, at domestic ​airports, and at some international locations. We encourage individuals to make the best decision to support their personal wellbeing. Additionally, Southwest will continue supporting the comfort of those who travel with us by offering additional layers of protection, including sophisticated cabin air ventilation systems onboard our aircraft which incorporate HEPA air filtration that removes at least 99.97% of airborne particles.

We appreciate the cooperation and compliance efforts of our Customers and Employees as policies have evolved. We’ll continue to monitor public health guidance, and federal requirements, while always keeping safety as our uncompromising priority.

Spirit Airlines

Face coverings are now optional for Spirit Team Members & Guests onboard our flights following the federal court ruling and TSA guidance.

We understand some Guests may want to continue wearing face coverings on flights, and that’s perfectly fine under our optional policy.

For our Guests traveling internationally, please remember to check country-specific airport requirements before traveling.

Sun Country Airlines

Thank you Sun Country guests for your patience and for masking up. Effective immediately, wearing a mask on Sun Country flights is optional for our passengers and employees, and TSA will not enforce the mask requirement in airports. We look forward to seeing your smiles on board and encourage kindness and respect for those who continue to mask.

Transportation Security Administration

Due to today’s court ruling, effective immediately, TSA will no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs. TSA will also rescind the new Security Directives that were scheduled to take effect tomorrow [April 19]. CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time.

United Airlines

Masks are no longer required for United customers or employees on domestic flights, select international flights (dependent upon the arrival country’s requirements) or at U.S. airports. More comfortable keeping yours on? Go right ahead… the choice is yours! (via United Facebook post).

[Featured Photo: N i c o l a/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]

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