Major U.S. airlines dropped the required mask mandate for travel. On Monday, a federal judge in Florida ruled that the U.S. government’s mask mandate requirement for public transportation was unlawful. Many cities and counties dropped their mask mandate requirements in February or early March. However, TSA still required masks on public transit and travel until April 18th. Therefore, it isn’t shocking that many airlines pushed back.
Last December, multiple airline CEOs testified that the mask mandates were no longer necessary. Delta Airlines immediately dropped its mask mandates immediately after the new ruling. “Effective immediately, masks are optional for all airport employees, crew members, and customers inside U.S. airports and onboard all aircraft domestically and on most international flights,” the airline said.
“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.”
Airlines Understand Change Takes Time
The largest flight attendants union president asked for patience as the new rules went into effect. “In aviation operations, it is impossible to simply flip a switch from one minute to the next,” Sara Nelson said. “It takes a minimum of 24-48 hours to implement new procedures and communicate this throughout the entire network.
“Policies and procedures must be updated and thoroughly communicated to hundreds of thousands of employees and millions of travelers,” Nelson added. “Announcements and signage, electronic and physical, must be updated.” Delta agreed with Nelson in a memo to employees. They are working on updating the necessary signage in airports. “Given the unexpected nature of this announcement, please be aware that customers, airline employees, and federal agency employees – such as TSA – may be receiving this information at different times,” the memo said. “You may experience inconsistent enforcement during the next 24 hours as this news is more broadly communicated — remember to show understanding and patience with others who may not be aware enforcement is no longer required.” Alaska Air’s official statement: “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.”
Everyone didn’t agree with the judge’s ruling and hoped for more clarity with the decision. Despite the ruling, the White House recommends people wear masks on an airplane.