American Airlines Bans Wearing Too Much Personal Protection Equipment On Board

This week American Airlines banned a passenger within hours of a mask incident, something that usually requires multiple violations at the carrier. In this case the boarding door had already closed and the jet bridge had been pulled back, when the customer who refused to wear a mask needed to be removed from the aircraft. They weren’t just violating mask rules, they were compromising D0!

However it’s not just passengers refusing to wear personal protection equipment that’s a problem at the airline. It seems another problem is passengers who wear too much. So last week American Airlines sent a memo to its customer care agents on “Prohibited Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).”

There are several items that the airline does not allow, and deems ‘recreational’:

Our customers can be creative when it comes to face coverings. Thanks to your photos and descriptions of customers’ Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), we want to share the types of “recreational” items and PPE that are not allowed on our flights. Specifically:

  • Personal face / body tents
  • Personal face / body pods
  • Personal air purifiers / refreshers
  • Ozone generators

Here are some tips on what to do if you see a customer using any non-approved mask or face shield:

  • Politely remind them of our policy
  • Advise them that these types of PPE are safety concerns, especially tents / pods which can slow access to critical safety procedures, including emergency evacuations and use of oxygen masks

We understand our customers may be concerned about being in close contact with other customers. This is a perfect time to remind them of the steps we’ve taken to keep them safe:

  • Our Clean Commitment was launched to keep every gate area, jetbridge and aircraft clean
  • We’ve begun using new breakthrough SurfaceWise2 spraying solution
  • We require everyone to wear an approved mask or face covering to reduce the risk of virus transmission
  • We also offer extra wipes (where available) for customers to clean the area around them

Body Pod in Delta First Class, Credit: Under The Weather

Rather than banning ‘body pods’ and other protective items, I wonder if an airline might promote safety and generate ancillary revenue at the same time if they sold these items themselves. Then again, like a movie theater, they might still wish to ban customers from bringing their own in order to prevent lower cost competition for sales.

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. I’m with American on this one. If you only feel comfortable flying by putting on a big bulky tent…you probably shouldn’t be flying then. And American is 100% correct about this being a safety issue. One person with a tent is probably not a problem. You start seeing 20-30 tents in a cabin and you have a problem.

  2. Interesting. In my experience, Air France prohibits pax from wearing anything other than surgical or KN/N95 masks. I’ve seen pax be told to take off their cloth mask or their more heavy duty gas masks. They were handed a single use surgical mask at boarding.

  3. I found it cnfusing.

    The tent prohibition probably is valid because of problems in evacutaion in emergency.

    What’s would be a disallowed face sheild or mask? (Excluding things that might be written on them).

    It sounds weird by AF, but if they are handing out a substitue surgical mask, that may be ok.

  4. Thank goodness. AA is making smart decisions and one reason I have continue to feel comfortable to fly. People on both extremes need to stop being stupid. Wear a mask, wash your hands and shut the F@#$ up! 🙂

  5. I can confirm that AF and KLM require surgical masks. I kept getting looks from a KLM FA that finally asked if I had another mask. I had to put on my backup surgical mask instead of the cloth neck gaiter I usually use. Only airline I’ve flown with that policy.

  6. Thin fabric neck gaiters have been shown to be worse (for those around you) than not wearing anything because their fine fibers break up droplets and increase the number of aerosol particles. So yes, gaiters should be replaced by surgical masks.

  7. I’ve had a couple of the personal ionizers used for years, even on AA, doubt they would ever know.

  8. @sunviking – if ~40% of the US population “wore a mask and washed your hands” we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in

  9. Actually I think something like this is perfect for young children who refuse to wear a mask. This may work for them. Only if a family purchase all he seats or window seat.

  10. On a day when you need a smile. The personal pod gave me a chuckle. I believe there are definitely times when people can over do it. Especially, with personal protection. But maybe some people just love wearing a Tyvek suit.

  11. When did commercial interest outweigh common good..?

    Stupid question..

    The only reason why they’re banning higher level PPE? Don’t make every one else feel inferior..l unless we’re charging for it and we can make a buck.

    Think about it, if you show up in a pod and all they’re offering is a mask, it’s not going to be conductive to business..

    You offer said pod as a $50 add on to the ticket price… suddenly you wouldn’t have a problem with it.. because your collecting the “rent” on PPE….

    Fairly disgusting, but I used to be a airline pilot and I know how they think…

  12. Why are passengers being asked to communicate AA “policies?” to other passengers??? I certainly will not be talking to a complete stranger reminding them of the steps an airline may or may not have taken. Ludicrous

  13. Not to let facts get in the way of constant outrage….. Do you know you only have a few seconds you have to put your Oxygen on during a depressurization before you pass out? Its called “time of useful consciousness”. It’s not a conspiracy… this is the clear reason for the policy.

  14. @ Ex Airline Pilot

    If you were an ex airline pilot you’d clearly know this new rule is to make sure people aren’t impeded from putting on their O2 masks in the event of a depressurization!

  15. I am not a fan of the whole pandemic panic but if your going to fly just put a mask on and shut up. I know that if I am going somewhere it’s part of the requirement like not brining a large knife. Just do it so we all can get to where we are going.

  16. Plenty of comments don’t seem to have read he article closely. @beachfan – nothing about banning face masks or shields. @Walter Jacobs – this was a memo to staff (“customer care agents”) not a request for customers to challenge other passengers who appear to be breaking the rules.

    It seems pretty sensible to ban lots of these things – who has time in an emergency to unzip a tent before evacuating or putting on the oxygen mask? And I imagine a lot of air purifiers/ozone generators have electrical safety issues if they are cheaply mass-produced.

  17. [redacted] whakos and their useless masks need to stop. We have a IMMUNE SYSTEM…if you have medical issues stay the [redacted] home so you can continue to each like [redacted] and complain about non mask users.


  18. @Gary Leff, even Melania?
    I mean she married the fat troll for his money, so she must be getting laid somewhere else.

  19. Publicize how harmful valves masks are. N95 with valves are the same. Exhaled air is both unfiltered and accelerated. How about showing with colored gas how dangerous these valves masks are to others.

  20. I’m 62 sept 8 was the first time I’ve ever stepped foot one a plane I had my 4 year old great granddaughter every one was so help and every one had a mask I felt safe thank AA

  21. I have several comments; I totally agree with a prior post, some individuals are “show-offs…others are just “off”…you can not educate ignorant, self-serving/stupid individuals. All airlines need to follow the same protocols as AA so we are all united in this approach of safety for everyone. Political: All lives matter! Integrity: doing what is proper wether anyone is looking or not. Golden Rule: treat others how you would like to be treated. (If you posted inappropriate material on this post, look in the mirror and see what you might need to address before criticising other individuals.)

  22. Can you elaborate on the below? I can only hope that it’s not because only white lives matter to you….
    John Todd says:
    September 12, 2020 at 10:41 pm
    I am offended by American Airlines employees wearing BLM pins!

  23. Im a construction professional in nyc. Basic PPE is a mask, hardhat, gloves, face shield or safety glasses, harness, and some companies steel toed(or composite ) shoes. Oh, and dont forget the reflective orange vests indoors and out. Leave out the harness if you dont go higher than 6′. it took a long time and alot of fines to get all of the trades, and office staff believe it to go with it….and there are fewer people getting injured because they are schooled. As far as this cocoon is concerned. yes i agree at the humor factor, and agree with the safety factor in an emergency, but they dont loook like something impossible to get out of and not mess with anyone else. Is it OSHA approved, or have they been tested to see if the rule is true, are they really a hazard or SOMEONES OPINION? I believe in anything that saves you and the people around you. No more difficult than getting around someone linebacker size…..

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