Flight Attendants Don’t Want A Mask Mandate Anymore, Either

Flight attendants unions are pushing to extend the federal transportation mask mandate which is currently set to end March 18. But their members are far from all on board.

I’ve heard from several flight attendants, and watched discussions in social media, where they’re up in arms over their union leaders pushing for this requirement – because they’re tired of wearing masks on planes themselves.

  • Flight attendants have to wear masks far more often than passengers do. They travel on far more flights than even the most frequent customers.

  • They feel the mask mandate has become harder to enforce. In 2020, before vaccines, masks gave customers confidence to fly. Now they’ve tired of them. And with the recent return of predeparture beverages in first class on American, the bulk of passengers watch maskless premium passengers as they board with their masks on.

  • The past couple of years have been stressful with a rise in inflight passenger incidents. The vast majority of incidents reported to the government have involved masks. They’re tired of enforcing the mask rule and confronting passengers, and believe their job will get easier once the rule is allowed to lapse.

These crewmembers are frustrated because since their unions are pushing federal mask requirements, they’re being blamed – when they wish the rules would go away, too.

As I’ve written for a year, the mask mandate will not be permanent (despite what some public health officials prefer). It will end for political reasons. That may not happen March 18 – my own guess has been a two month extension because the Biden administration is scared to lift it and get surprised by a new variant, and then take political hits ‘for being wrong’. (The better approach, of course, is to impose restrictions that are temporary based on actual science.)

However the administration needs to declare victory on the pandemic and take credit for that, rather than being the forces imposing restrictions and the focus of voter frustration. The mask rule automatically ends when the Secretary of Health and Human Services rescrinds the termination under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247d) that a public health emergency exists.

I was a big proponent of masks in March 2020 when flight attendants weren’t permitted to wear them. In much of 2020 the airline rule for masks made some sense and helped give customers confidence to fly.

But aircraft cabins do have HEPA air filtration and downward air flow. Vaccines and boosters are widely available. Even Paxlovid availability to treat Covid-19 has opened up. And 49 states do not have indoor mask requirements at this point. Passengers can still protect themselves with well-fitting N95 masks, which are available now too. Requiring cloth masks for cabin crew makes even less sense than requiring them of passengers.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. CDC is expected to issue new indoor mask guidelines today. I’d assume this allows the mask mandate to expire in March or April.

    While we need to treat this disease as endemic, certainly the political part of the virus is over, if not the epidemiological one.

  2. Are you saying that the union isn’t representing the interests of its members?

    I am SHOCKED!

  3. @James The Mises institute (and your other “scientific” articles) are about as scientific of an article as Cato, Heartland, or CAP — they’re not

  4. Mask theatre must continue.
    Masks on planes aren’t going anywhere. You’ll be wearing one forever. The announcement is coming. They’ll acknowledge that COVID is forever, and they’ll say masks must be forever too – not to mention the chance of a future pandemic. Can’t be too safe, they’ll tell you.
    Keep your masks handy; they are forever on planes. They also know that eventually everyone’s will will be broken down and you’ll just unconsciously accept masking on planes. They know where the braking point of the human will is and they are aiming at that.

  5. Many masks come off when sipping a coffee or eating a snack. If some passengers want to continue wearing them it should be a individual decision.

  6. @James N

    This may get me banned, but I don’t care, because you called me an idiot.

    Fuck you.

    I wear an N95 mask every time I leave the house because I have an immediate family member with a primary immunodeficiency. I have to because such an enormous percentage of the company is too stupid and/or scared to be vaccinated, and I can’t risk becoming infected and passing it on to my family member.

    Or, for that matter, anyone else in the community who might be vulnerable.

    That doesn’t make me an idiot, that just makes me someone who gives a damn about somebody other than myself.

    Unlike, apparently, you.

  7. Oh the humanity! The covid cultists must be terrified of the fact that Americans are tired of wearing chin diapers. The moment the mandates ended, so did the mask wearing. Prime example is ground zero for vaccine theatre – LA County. Virtually nobody wore one during the Super Bowl….and to the surprise of nobody with a brain….. there aren’t scores of death and destruction as a result. You whackos need to give it up and realize there’s only two types of people now. Those that have gotten it and those that will. END THE NONSENSE!

  8. Agree Gary. Maybe the only other thing that makes less sense now is the COVID negative test requirement to get back into the US, especially for those fully vaccinated.

    International travel will not get back to any level until travelers are confident they won’t have to stay in another country for x amount of days before returning home.

  9. Hey Sam, why should vax status matter? It does NOT keep you from catching the Vid. It does NOT keep you from spreading the Vid. No consideration for natural immunity? Seriously, why should vax status matter now? When will people wake up and realize the genie is outta the bottle and no amount of masks, shots or lockdows is putting it back in? It’s time to END IT ALL and 100% OPEN ALL COUNTRIES.

  10. @ Greg, I’d like to politely but firmly suggest you are an idiot. You can scream and curse all you want that everyone must get vaccinated but that doesn’t now and will likely never fully protect you or an immune-compromised family member. Same with the mask. My firm has a vaccination mandate and made a reasonable effort to enforce masking in an office. Most people were boosted in the fall. We are in a city where entering nearly all indoor spaces requires a vaccination card (and no; not Miami). 50%+ of my coworkers had COVID in December and January. Plenty of other people have similar real world stories. That’s why the mandates are melting away. I’m not here to suggest how to protect your family members. I don’t know. I do know you are an idiot to believe compulsory use of available mitigation options is keeping your family completely safe. That train has left the station.

  11. @Greg…Wonderful, intelligent response. And then we’re forced to endure the “I’m better than you and care about others” canard. It’s a twofer!

    @Jim…Nice ad hominem. Any chance we can get you to actually offer a thoughtful, critical rebuttal?

    “Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges” Herman Melville

    “How can an otherwise sane individual become so enamored of a fantasy, an imposture, that even after it’s exposed in the bright light of day, he still clings to it – indeed, clings to it all the harder? No amount of logic can shatter a faith consciously based on a lie.” Lamar Keene

  12. Ask my mother what it’s like to wear a face mask with hearing aids & glasses. Three devices looped over the ear pinna is way too much! My ears get sore wearing a mask. I did purchase some nice loose fitting cloth masks that cosmetically conform to the mask mandate (if not the intended purpose).

  13. @James N
    Hey Jimmy, I see you’re at it again. Is this your fake news anthology? When’s the last time you left your house? When’s the last time you flew on a commercial airline without a mask? You must live in your own fantasy world.

  14. I’ve been on 5 AA flights in F since 2/16 and I’ve received a PDB on exactly 1 of them, so yes, the PDB is “back,” but that doesn’t mean anybody is actually getting one.

  15. @James, that’s not even what ad hominem means. As a point of clarity, ad hominem is attacking a person rather than their position. I am attacking calling political think tanks “scientific articles.”

    If you’d like some peer-reviewed, apolitical reads, I invite you to check these out:
    https://www.pnas.org/content/118/4/e2014564118
    https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/4/e006577
    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/disaster-medicine-and-public-health-preparedness/article/testing-the-efficacy-of-homemade-masks-would-they-protect-in-an-influenza-pandemic/0921A05A69A9419C862FA2F35F819D55

  16. “where’s your answer?” Where’s yours? Prove my position wrong instead of attacking my character. It does nothing other than display your weakness.

  17. @James N
    You’re the one who is calling people “Idiot”. So, Chump crybaby, as people continue to die of Covid you apparently don’t have the brains to acknowledge the truth that is not in line with your fake news.
    People want to know, when did you last fly on a commercial airline without a mask? Sorry, I have to duck out of here, so I won’t be able to respond to your latest bs canard.

  18. Haha Carlos! Good one! What you say is true – the only thing a seat belt will do in the event of a crash is give the sorry soul tasked with retrieving your carcass the additional step of unlatching it before what’s left of you can be shoveled into your box. You don’t hear anyone crying about the seat belts anymore do you? You put them on anyway on the plane without unconscious thought. You also stow your tray tables and put your seat backs upright for absolutely no useful reason.

    Masks are forever. The wills of those angry about it now will be broken and they’ll stop their moaning about it and just put on their useless mask. This event, COVID, must be commemorated forever and it will be by 1) reduced freedom and reduced privacy, and 2) little theater events like useless seat belts and masks on those big bad airplanes, which after all brought the virus here from China in the first place. Air travel, BAD. BAD. Masks GOOD, GOOD. In another year or two people will just wear the mask and it will be yet another insult from the Government absorbed by what used to free people. That pendulum swings back and forth, but it takes centuries and we’ll all be gone before freedom trumps safety again. For now, you’ll mask up for the rest of your days when you fly anywhere.

  19. I am a flight attendant and will keep on wearing a mask mandate or not. I have decided each time I am at work my mask will be on. It’s not just about COVID, since I have been wearing my respiratory health has been better.
    I have worked flight from :30-13th s wearing a mask and I was okay with it.
    I will keep wearing gloves onboard to keep myself safe. I will do the same as passenger.
    This is not political it’s science

  20. “I am attacking calling political think tanks “scientific articles.”

    You can’t make this stuff up. It appears you’re suggesting those scientific articles were written by plants or were created organically. Sorry, but your original comment is a classic example of an Ad Hominem. You offered nothing to refute the points made in the article and simply attacked the source. Try again!

  21. Thanks for the validation, Rog. After I pointed out your inability to offer anything other than a mindless insult, you went and doubled down. So again, please detail the errors contained in the article I posted.

  22. @James, I:
    1. attacked the articles you cited, which are by definition, not scientific articles (which you know)
    2. provided actual scientific articles, which, if you clicked, actually show a fairly wide range of views on the efficacy of masks

    The second point in particular just highlights a desire to troll rather than engage

  23. I look forward to the day when masks are no longer an issue so blogs can stick to pimping credit cards.

  24. “attacked the articles you cited, which are by definition, not scientific articles…”

    Which means, you attacked the source and not the information contained in the article. Seriously, this isn’t that difficult to understand. Just like I challenged Rog, point out the errors in the article. Until that happens, the information appears to be valid. You’re basically disputing it with the wave of your hand. That won’t fly here.

    Honestly, people need to learn what constitutes a valid debate. Unfortunately, most are incapable.

  25. “Honestly, people need to learn what constitutes a valid debate. Unfortunately, most are incapable.” is an example of an ad hominem attack, you learned something!

  26. @miamiorbust

    Please reread my post more carefully. I objected to the article that @James N linked titled “Why Whoever Still Wears a Facial Mask Is a Complete Idiot,” which he indicated was the same message he had been communicating for 2 years.

    I did not say that everyone had to be vaccinated (although I do believe people who refuse vaccinations after more than 10,000,000,000 doses globally are foolishly listening to people with antigovernment agendas), nor that everyone has to wear a mask (despite N95 respirators being shown to be very effective at preventing COVID).

    I actually agree that there is no point in wearing a thin cloth mask. It does nobody any good. N95’s, by contrast, have been shown to be protective against infection and transmission. Even James’s “Idiot” article linked to articles acknowledging the effectiveness of N95’s. N95’s are what my family and I wear exclusively, including when my immunocompromised family member and I flew on a plane (where we also wore a face shield and did not eat or drink on board).

    Unfortunately, there are very few people, other than health care workers, who are willing to wear N95’s for a full day. They won’t because they’re not willing to experience a slight degree of discomfort to protect themselves and others. Which was my point.

  27. “…is an example of an ad hominem attack, you learned something!”

    No, it is not! You need to research the definition of ad hominem. An ad hominem occurs when someone ignores your argument and attacks the individual. You didn’t make an argument, so there was nothing to refute. My point about people’s inability to formulate a valid argument is nothing more than an observation. Seriously, do some “Googling” and learn why you’re incorrect.

  28. James N is a whiny little b!tch who has consistently called Covid “a hoax” going on two years now…he is the champion of his parents’ basement in which he lives in well into his 30s.

  29. “…consistently called Covid “a hoax” going on two years now…”

    And has been proven right every step of the way. Thank you very much, as I take a well-deserved bow.

  30. @James N – Just to understand where your head really is on this subject, roughly how many people do you think have died in the United States with COVID?

  31. How exactly will that denote “where my head is on this subject”? Whatever number I give will have no effect on how others view this issue. It would appear you’re looking for a simple metric to use as a bludgeon in an attempt to marginalize my position.

    Simply put, society has been subjected to a perverse, malevolent psyop over the past two years and is only now starting to wake up to the nonsense, lies, and deceit promulgated by our leaders and their lackeys in the MSM. Unfortunately, there remains a cadre of hypnotized zealots who are either unwilling or unable to recognize the obvious fraud and appear doomed to remain in a continual state of denial.

  32. @James N

    I’m trying to understand what exactly you mean when you say that COVID is a “hoax.”

    Are you saying that COVID-19 and its variants don’t actually exist and people haven’t been dying from it?

  33. Thank you for this article. I am a flight attendant, and I completely agree with you that most of us want it to be optional at this point. For me, it is more of a safety issue. At work, I need to have a completely unhindered sense of smell to detect unusual or dangerous odors like smoke in the cabin, toxic fumes, or even alcohol intoxication on the breath of a passenger. My ability to communicate with my crew and our customers is greatly diminished (haven’t we all learned just how much we relied on lip reading ). Many FA’s are experiencing mild or moderate hypoxia, because we are having to wear masks 12+ hours a day. This results in headaches, dizziness, etc. It is baffling to me how the FAA continues to support this policy. It is clear to me that the only way out of this is for the public to demand an end to mandatory masking now. Contact your airline executives. Contact your senators and representatives. Senator Rand Paul is sponsoring a bill to end it, demand that your senators back his legislation. Lastly, stop complying. This is not a law, it did not go through the legislative process, it is a mandate. Learn your rights. And vote with your pocketbook. Guarantee you if you all stopped flying, the foolishness would end.

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