American Airlines Strengthens Mask Policy By Copy/Pasting United’s Announcement From This Morning

Delta has gone the farthest with masks announcing a requirement that anyone seeking a medical exemption must show up early at the airport and have a medical consult. I’m guessing anyone who actually does that, and has Googled what to say, will be fine – but it’s enough of a transaction cost that it’ll cut down on most exemption requests. Meanwhile Delta’s CEO was out today saying the airline had banned over 100 anti-mask passengers.

This morning United Airlines announced two new ways they’re upping the ante on masks,

  1. Their mask policy applies to all children 2 years old and above (below that it isn’t medically recommended)
  2. And it applies in all areas of the airport under their control, from check-in areas to lounges to boarding gates.

So surprising absolutely no one, American Airlines after close of business announced two new ways they’re upping the ante on masks,

  1. Their mask policy applies to all children “over the age of two” (it’s unclear whether this means two or older or if it means three or older)
  2. And it applies in all areas of the airport under their control, from check-in areas to lounges to boarding gates.

The reference to over the age of two in American’s announcement could have been clearer but once United got this out American needed to move quickly to innovate copy. You might argue there’s some benefit in uniformity across the industry for masks, though that’s not what’s happened here so far. Normally airlines only copy Delta, though, not United.

The requirement for two years olds to wear masks is going to be challenging for many two year olds (and their parents). And there’s substantial evidence suggesting young children don’t spread the virus very much to others. The mask requirement wherever the airline has influence does seem to make sense, regardless of the extent to which the average mask most Americans are using is protective.

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. Hands on buzzers !!!!! Wrong , Airlines have no authority on Airports requiring masks . That is controlled by the airport and state/City it’s governed in.

  2. Usually, I’m not an automatic critic of Gary’s analysis…but wouldn’t it be *within the realm of possible* that the majors might have coordinated their policies and that this isn’t a copycat situation?

  3. Oh please. . . .business have to vet announcement like this through legal before the announce them. AA was working on this the same time as DL and UA, it’s just timing.

    Working in marketing, I understand the stages a policy announcement takes before it is implemented and make public.

    Please focus on facts and how businesses operate and report the facts, don’t make up ridiculous stories. No business (not even AA if your so inclined) operations in such a manor.

  4. Seems like they would’ve been better off if they actually copy/pasted. Poor policy language will lead to inconsistent enforcement.

  5. @sunviking82 Oh please…When a CEO wants something urgently, legal review/approval of a one-pager takes 30 minutes or less. And if the general counsel is golfing at that moment, he/she will be pulled away from it to get it done.

    P.S. A manor is a large country house with lands. AA owns none of them.

  6. Will this AA move (of copying UA) do anything about passengers who avoid/minimize wearing a mask over their mouth and nose by milking the presence of a cup/bottle or other food/beverage packaging on their tray?

    Isn’t that (i.e., exploitation of food/beverage container/packaging to minimize appropriately using a mask in-flight) what US Senator Ted Cruz did on an AA flight? Given that he’s a brown-nosing Trump sycophant — even after Trump attacked Cruz’s wife and father — it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s been a mask-hater like Trump.

  7. @Ariel Kayne – Delta was out talking up masks on the same day without making this change, United and American didn’t copy the medical consultation change Delta made

  8. @Tim
    Airlines have authority on who boards their planes, and if they want you to wear a mask at the check-in counter and in the gate area, you’d better comply if you want to board the plane. Airlines also sometimes control access to their baggage claim areas. I’ve seen them do it.

  9. So when on a long overnight flight in a lay flat seat are you allegedly supposed to remain masked?

  10. @charlie
    I know that I am a FA … Im saying AA didn’t make the mask rule for terminal.

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