If you’re one of the handful of Americans planning on flying soon, you will likely be required to cover your face.
A number of major airlines have announced in recent days that face coverings will be required on flights during the spread of COVID-19. JetBlue was the first domestic airline to require face coverings for passengers. Since then, Delta, United and American have all joined in requiring face coverings.
Once the new rules go into effect, it is unknown how long the requirement will last.
Face covering effective date:
Delta – May 4
JetBlue – May 4
United - May 4
American – May 11
Southwest - May 11
“Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself it’s about protecting those around you,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer, JetBlue. “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.”
In general, the airlines require that face coverings cover the nose, mouth and chin. Coverings such as surgical masks and N95 respirators should be reserved for medical personnel.
"The American Airlines team continues to prioritize the safety of our customers and team members, and requiring a face covering is one more way we can protect those on our aircraft,” said Kurt Stache, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience. “We ask customers to bring their own masks or face coverings they’re comfortable with when they travel. American is working to procure face masks and hand sanitizer as a supplement."
The latest decision to require masks is one of a few measures airlines have implemented to help stop the spread of the virus. Most airlines have also blocked the middle seat on flights and are boarding those at the back of the plane first.
But the number of flyers has dramatically decreased in the last eight weeks as non-essential travel has been strongly discouraged by the CDC, WHO and other public health organizations.