Airlines For America, the major lobbying group whose members include the six largest U.S. airlines, announced today that face mask aren’t just required on board by their members but this time they mean it.
All significant U.S. airlines except for Allegiant require passengers to wear masks while on board. However airlines have been telling flight attendants not to enforce the rule>
- Young children and people with medical justifications aren’t required to wear masks.
- The rules are potentially contentious, and airlines don’t want confrontations that may lead to diversions.
That’s led to passengers wearing underwear as masks, or putting on eye masks and calling it good. Mask compliance varies flight by flight, with broad social media reports of people being unwilling to wear them – and of crew not even announcing the rule.
Airlines For America, though, says this is about to change,
Today, Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization representing the leading U.S. airlines, announced that its member carriers will be vigorously enforcing face covering policies, putting rigor around rules requiring passengers and customer-facing employees to wear facial coverings over their nose and mouth.
Specifically there will be “Consequences for Noncompliance” which will vary by airline “up to and including suspension of flying privileges on that airline.” The lobby shop’s head said “U.S. airlines are very serious about requiring face coverings on their flights. Carriers are stepping up enforcement of face coverings and implementing substantial consequences for those who do not comply with the rules.”
So how real is this claim? Here’s the instruction that was given to American Airlines flight attendants today:
What if a Passenger Refuses to Wear a Face-Covering?
Our role is to advise customers of the face-covering policy. If you notice someone not covered by one of the exceptions, not wearing a face covering, use your best judgment to address the situation discreetly. If a passenger advises you that they are unable to wear a mask because of a medical condition, disability, religious grounds, etc., no further action is needed. If the passenger chooses not to comply for other reasons, please encourage them to comply. Likewise, if a customer is frustrated by another customer’s lack of face covering, try to de-escalate the situation. …
If a Passenger Is Upset by Another Not Wearing a Face Covering, How Should I Handle the Situation?
We must respect our passengers who are unable to wear face coverings, while also encouraging the use of face coverings to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Please use de-escalation techniques, such as reseating a passenger who is upset, to keep the environment respectful.
There seems to be an inconsistency between the claims of airline lobbyists that carriers are getting medieval on passengers refusing to wear masks, and on the ground instruction to cabin crew about the same thing.
The lobby group also walked through various other things airlines are doing to mitigate virus spread, but since they represent nearly all U.S. airlines they speak about it in very general terms. HEPA filters don’t apply to all aircraft, disinfectant spraying use varies as well.
The group has called for “the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to begin conducting temperature screenings” also this is likely illegal.