JetBlue Becomes First U.S. Airline To Require Passengers To Wear Face Masks

In mid-March – which seems like years ago at this point – Alitalia began requiring passengers to wear masks in order to fly. Italy became one of the key early areas for the coronavirus outbreak.

Early on in the pandemic U.S. officials told a ‘noble lie’ that people shouldn’t wear masks. Masks have been a key part of suppressing spread of COVID-19 in Taiwan, and South Korea.

While masks aren’t the only driver of by any means, by now you’re no doubt familiar with this chart:

American Airlines is going to start handing out masks to passengers on some flights. Several airlines are requiring flight attendants to wear masks.

And now JetBlue is becoming the first U.S. airline to require it of passengers starting May 4.

[S]tarting May 4 all customers will be required to wear a face covering during travel. …This new policy will require customers to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth throughout their journey, including during check-in, boarding, while in flight and deplaning. Customers will be reminded of this requirement before their flight via email and at the airport by both terminal signage and announcements. Small children who are not able to maintain a face covering are exempt from this requirement.

..[A]n item of cloth that should fit snugly against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, include multiple layers of fabric and allow for unrestricted breathing.

This seems reasonable. Presumably other passengers who have medical reasons not to wear a mask will be exempt in addition to ‘small children’. However masks provide some measure of protection for other passengers in the event the wearer is asymptomatic but spreading the virus.

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. Perfectly demonstrates “virtue signaling” versus science. I continue hope that the sheeple will wake up and push back against this nonsense.

  2. @jamesN: Zzzzzzz. Boring diatribe. Go away.

    What’s concerning about all this…. and I’m perfectly fine with JetBlue mandating this…is that two months ago everyone said masks were a waste of time. Common sense would dictate even if the mask blocks a little bit of air droplets wouldn’t it have been a good thing? After all there’s a reason they’ve been worn in an operating room

  3. I love when my “critics” are reduced to simplistic, mindless responses. It validates they’ve got nothing.

  4. @Gary: The tweet that you linked to is a refutation of the graph it includes (as is the inclusion of make-wearing China in the “no mask” category). As Dr Rasmussen states, there’s a lot more going on there than masks.

    That said, it’s hard to imagine that wearing a mask does not provide at least marginal protection against a respiratory disease known to spread by airborne droplets — for the wearer as well as for those around them.

  5. @Dublin – mask are largely ineffective. The do almost nothing to stop you from catching the virus (unless you have an n97 mask (very hard to find) that is professionally fitted and you never take it off around people). Wearing something over your face will stop sneezes and other material from getting into the air but WILL NOT totally stop the virus from being spread. Also the air filtration system on airlines actually does a really effective job of filtering the air.

    What I don’t understand about this (outside of it being a PR move by Jet Blue) is that they say people much HAVE a face covering but won’t be denied transport if they aren’t wearing it. Huh? Also are they providing masks for people that show up without one? Finally one thing about masks is that you shouldn’t be taking them on and off (sort of defeats the purpose) and yet in the same release Jet Blue talks about the meal and beverage services that will be offered. Unless someone knows something I don’t you pretty much have to remove the mask to eat or drink.

    All smoke and no fire here people.

    Oh yeah – have NEVER flown Jet Blue (one of very few domestic carriers in the past 30 years I haven’t) and now have an additional reason not to fly them with this shameless publicity gag. BTW, they likely won’t be here in a couple of years so this is all moot.

  6. AirAsia is going a step further by requiring everyone to wear a mask. They will also check your temperature before boarding.

  7. Ahhhh James N – WHEN are you going to WAKE UP man and take the red pill…the blue pill is messing with your MINNNNNNDDDDD bro.

  8. @James N: Come on! Give us some arguments! What is really going on and where is the proof?
    Pretty sure though you will cop out again and just repeat that we’re all sheep who validate all your (at least for the moment inexistent) points

  9. I haven’t seen the answer to my question about masks: if I have to sneeze, do I take my mask off or do I leave it on and sneeze into the mask? If I take it off to sneeze, what’s the point? If I leave it on to sneeze, then it’s gross. If we’re going to require everyone to wear a mask, then we better require everyone to have a tissue in hand too . . .

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