With airlines beginning to require passengers to wear face masks on board, we’re about to see a new conflict, because people are just as awful as they used to be. It’s just that there are fewer of them flying.
When American Airlines debated internally whether to require passengers to wear masks, or merely encourage them to (including by providing the masks), the argument that ultimately gave way to a mandate was that cabin crew would be in a position of having to enforce the new rules. And there are always going to be exceptions, which creates grey areas and opportunities for conflict.
Small children aren’t recommended to wear masks due to suffocation risk. There are people whose mental health may be at issue, too.
We’re entering emotional support animal territory as passengers have unseen medical needs, while others might just be claiming to have these needs, and airlines find themselves in a position of trying to adjudicate these claims – even as someone bringing a pit bull on a plane, or failing to wear a mask, causes fear and a backlash from other passengers.
There’s a viral video going around of a woman who is wearing a face mask – but has cut a hole out for her mouth.
This defeats the purpose of wearing a mask. But she is wearing one. Or is she? Is a mask with a cutout for the mouth still a mask? Does it meet airline requirements, or the rules of any given jurisdiction that’s requiring masks for that matter? And is this question about to be adjudicated in airports and passenger cabins around the country?