Alaska Airlines: Masks Now Optional, Banned Passengers Welcome Back

After a federal judge struck down the transportation mask mandate some airlines are saying masks are still required on board.

United Airlines, for instance, told employees that the mask mandate is still in effect regardless of the ruling, pending notification to the contrary by the federal government.

Alaska Airlines has taken a different stance publicly stating that masks are now optional.

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.

This also means that passengers banned for mask non-compliance, and not other behavior, will be welcomed back on board. Alaska is not alone in having said that passengers banned over masks would be ineligible to fly that carrier until the mask requirement was lifted. Delta is one such airline.

Alaska is clear though that passengers whose ban included other behaviors may not be returning to fly the Seattle-based carrier.

What happens to guests who were banned because of not following our previous mask policy? Throughout the last two years, we have relied on reporting from agents and flight attendants to ban noncompliant guests from traveling while the federal mask policy remained in effect. Based on our reports, we will have some guests whose behavior was particularly egregious who will remain banned, even after the mask policy is rescinded.

So some passengers will remain banned even as others have their mask-related ban lifted. Let’s see who moves publicly next.

Update: United will no longer require masks on planes either since the federal government will stop its enforcement.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The Mask Terrorists have finally lost. Now they can get back to work and serve meals and drinks.

  2. Hard not to get excited, given the continuous disappointments in life over the last two years. But I can hardly stop myself from opening my front door and screaming out the news. Finally, a whiff of sanity as regards the virus disaster. Please may this be true for my trip in ten days. May all the United flight attendants who were so over-the-top about masks suffer ingrown toenails.

  3. Let me get this straight. The airlines are just letting the houligans to fly despite their dangerous and selfish conduct because they didn’t want to wear a mask? Unreal, I miss a credit card payment and the bank slaps a penalty on me but create a danger in the skies and there is noaccountability? The power of the almighty dollar, shame on you all airlines.

  4. I think it’s a big mistake to welcome back disruptive passengers that won’t follow crew member instructions. If they cause problems over a trivial piece of cloth when alcohol was largely curtailed just think of what will set them off once they get boozed up on-board.

  5. @ALAN you total MORON !!

    The FAs were following MANDATES you tool !!!

    Glad to see the Pandemic TRUMP CAUSED , is over though !

  6. Maybe right decision…unfortunately issued by a half-wit unqualified judge. It’s not like this entire COVID response hasn’t already had its share of fiascos. PS, big mistake giving banned passengers a free pass…only emboldens their bad behavior which we will all pay for again. They should be on a no-fly list across all U.S. airlines…at least for a good amount of time. Can’t wait to hear the reactions to these items. Thank you in advance.

  7. This morning flew COS-DEN-MCI
    It was a very happy group of people.
    Lipstick sales going up.

  8. If I ran an airline there’s no way I’d forgive-and-forget previously banned mask offenders. They knew the mask rules before boarding and chose to not obey, who’s to say whether they’ll follow other rules going forward. The customer is NOT always right, and some are not worth the trouble.

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