Here’s How American Airlines Tells Employees To Address Mask Disputes

U.S. airlines all require face masks, except Allegiant which oddly will allow you to substitute a face shield. Masks have become a flash point of controversy for some passengers like the conservative activist American banned for refusing to wear one and the Navy SEAL who says he shot bin Laden but wouldn’t wear a mask on Delta.

I know that some of you feel masks are taking away your freedom, perhaps in the same way that wearing pants does. And perhaps masks are even some part of a huge government conspiracy. On that part you might even be right:

Airlines require masks because it gives passengers confidence to travel, and because there’s good reason to believe that all but the worst masks likely do provide some protection from Covid-19.

American Airlines recently shared a memo with employees, “Best practices for team members: Face covering compliance and customer aggression”

With a recent increase in customer aggression incidents as a result of our face covering policy, we want to share the following suggestions and best practices to keep our team members and customers safe:

  • Be prepared! Notify a manager if disposable masks are not available

  • Provide constant reminders that a face covering is required while traveling with us
    • Remind every customer, at every point of contact – even if they’re already wearing one
    • Make additional announcements at the gate, especially if you see customers without face coverings

  • Keep our crews safe by ensuring customers properly wear an approved face covering over their nose and mouth before allowing them to board the aircraft

In some instances you may find yourself in an uncomfortable situation while interacting with customers resistant to following our face covering policy. Here are helpful reminders for when a situation begins to escalate:

  • De-escalate the situation by using the LAST model to try and calm a customer at the first sign of upset:
    Listen • Apologize • Solve • Thank

  • If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation:
    • Take a moment to breathe
    • Ask for help – even if it could result in a departure delay; we would rather slow things down so the situation can be resolved calmly

  • A challenging situation is best handled on the ground. Don’t allow disruptive customers to board an aircraft, where solving their issue may be more difficult. Instead:
    • Contact a Ground Security Coordinator (GSC) or member of management to discuss the situation with you and the customer and help determine whether to permit or deny boarding
    • Once the incident is resolved and boarding is permitted, the agent or GSC/CSM will brief the Captain on the situation
    • If needed, Corporate Security, the Control Center, or IOC/SCSMs may also be contacted
      • If the incident involves a physical assault of our agent, report it as a “Code 113”
      • Please provide as much information about the situation as possible
      • Corporate Security will respond based on the information provided

Perhaps most shocking is that American Airlines has announced internally that mask wearing is more important than D0, an exact on time departure (“we would rather slow things down…”). I don’t think American’s mask policy makes sense requiring them for two year olds, but overall it’s good to see them taking this seriously.

None of this helps, of course, when it’s the flight attendant not wearing a mask.

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. @Johnny,

    Are you suggesting that the reason the mask mandates aren’t working is that people aren’t using them? Based on what?

  2. Joe you are so wrong. Just look at the data…. where we were months ago and where we are now. Unfortunately, we are trending back up because as a country and under current leadership, wearing masks has become a political statement rather than a public health remedy against an apolitical virus.

  3. You simply cannot prove that mask mandates haven’t resulted in fewer infections. And given the low cost (zero, basically) of wearing a mask, why wouldn’t we want everyone flying to wear one, unless or until an effective vaccine exists?

  4. @Joe – look at a Trump rally (assuming you have been to one based on your posts). Not a lot of masks exactly.

  5. Per the CDC, 400,000 people die from obesity related causes every year. Add in the fact that it’s also the #2 co-morbidity for covid-19 and that probably is closer to 450,000 this year.

    Where’s the outrage and massive shift in policy for those lives?

    Of course masks save lives. Duh. You know what would save even more lives? Diet and exercise!

    Africa was expected to be overwhelmed by Covid. Nope. Why not? Cause they’re all skinny.

    If you actually want to beat the virus it would be helpful if we could have an honest conversation about how to defeat it. Wear masks on airplanes and indoors, yep. Even better, maintain a healthy diet, so if you do get it you can survive it.

    Failure to even discuss this reality has caused me to lose faith in the experts we need to have faith in more than ever.

    Boo and hiss to till you feel better. But you can’t say I’m actually wrong. Just insensitive.

  6. I got the reasoning from the science enthusiasts here. The mask mandates aren’t working because of Trump. All the data crunchers have examined the scientific evidence and concluded its Trump’s fault.

  7. Love Alaska Air’s responde…Yellow Card, Red Card. No talk just slip them the card with the violation and then walk away. Just that simple. I have friends who fly for Alaska and you would be surprised at the compliance after the written warning!

  8. @christian Never said that was the case. In fact I said twice that masks had value. Are you more interested in winning an argument or with saving lives?

  9. @Joe – when ~35-40% of the population blindly follows a liar/cheat/charlatan without question, who makes a point of bashing masks and doesn’t wear them – news flash, it doesn’t help.

    Use your brain – tens of thousands of deaths could have been avoided if the Tangerine Tyrant had advocated for his MAGA sycophants to wear them from the start. But no – because “freedom” or some nonsense.

  10. @UA-NYC – I don’t know what’s funnier, someone as limited as you telling me to use my brain, or the fact that you think people will actually listen to you.

  11. Good bye American Airlines we flew with grandkids to Orlando and back. But never again your flight attendants are Mask Nazis and I believe it’s all bull …people die daily of many causes ,but most labeled covid in mass cover-up to make public sheeple

  12. @Joe – I don’t know what’s more pathetic, you blindly following Trump, or…wait, there’s really nothing more pathetic than that.

  13. I work for AA and I’ve not seen this memo. It’s BS. You’re getting some bad info. That may have been one station out of the whole country.

    Stop pooping on AA. You’re info is bad and you’re out dated.

  14. @gtfouh this is not ‘bad info’ it is also not ‘one station’ nor is it ‘out dated’. You are mistaken.

    Here’s the header of the memo:

  15. @Joe I know others who blindly followed Hitler and look what happen. Never in American history has there been a mass killing of Americans without it being called a war in such a short period of time. For those who do not want to wear a mask don’t. But you are not allowed in my private business. You are not allowed in my private home. You are not allowed within 10 feet of me. And for companies that I patronage they better not allow you in or they will lose MY BUSINESS. If you want to kill yourself and your family then go do it

  16. @Tomri – I’ll do what I please and what are you going to do about it? Also, bringing up Hitler is so cliche – think of another one, if you can.

  17. I’m quite a realistic analytical individual: here a comparison:

    It’s really rather funny/hypocritical/disingenuous /duplicitous call it what you want, but, follow the science @UA-NYC. Wearing a mask minimizes the spread of the virus to save lives while; feel free to eliminate life prior to birth. Science says that is a life, but, it’s fine to end that life because it’s unwanted fetal tissue within the uterus of a woman. “All gross fetal parts and tissue scraped utilizing a banjo/suction curetage method. Uterus was free of all gross fetal parts verified by ultrasonic view.” Dialtion & Curetage via suction/banjo. Where do you stand on life?

    At what point does life really matter? @Tomri you’re absolutely wrong in your statement and belief in your Hitler idea; the mass killing of Americans continues to this day…Abortion! Where do you stand on that? Is it a life or is it merely tissue? Where do you stand?

    A woman has the right to decide what she does with her body and any fetal tissue growth within her uterus; wear a mask to save the life of others and possibly your self. Point being, you can’t have it both ways.

  18. @Hey Its That Guy – is that Amy Coney Barrett posting here?

    Spectacular analogy fail – compare for me how a woman’s decision over her own body can have a negative multiplier effect 10x or 100x like not wearing a mask does with Covid. This should be amusing.

  19. Masks aren’t working of ppl are still testing positive. Come Nov the whole thing will disappear. This is totally ridiculous

  20. Please don’t tell me to stay home because you want to be “free” to not wear a mask in public. I want to free from YOU trying to infect ME! Solution: YOU stay home! Simple

  21. @Joe, to your original point about cases aren’t going down, but they are in many places, and in others they’re at least not going up. In Orange County FL where there’s a mask mandate in place cases have been steadily declining since July. (Until a slight uptick recently, due to people getting too complacent is my guess). It’s such a small thing to wear a mask. Also, for those of you talking against AA as a result of this, you know that every airline in the US now requires a face covering?

  22. It’s funny how people blame Trump for everything. Stupid DemoRATS! 99.7% of the population is just fine. Stop watching cnn. Gather the facts for yourselves. 80% who die from covid are over the age of 65. Most people who have covid are sent home and told to quarantine.

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