Lufthansa Bans Cloth Masks, Tells Passengers Get A Decent Mask Already!

Germany approved new rules to require medical grade masks on public transportation. Lufthansa has followed suit, requiring masks but banning cloth masks from meeting that requirement effective February 1. France and Austria may add similar rules.

Passengers will need to wear a medical-grade surgical mask as a minimum and anyone caught wearing a fabric face covering will be denied boarding. Ideally, passengers should seek to wear an FFP2 [or Chinese KN95] mask or even an N95 certified mask according to Lufthansa.

Cloth masks don’t do much to protect the wearer. They were considered acceptable as source control, limiting respiratory droplets that might be emitted. But with the Covid-19 pandemic far from under control, and with the virus mutating in ways that are concerning not just for rate of spread but also for treatment (whether monoclonal antibodies developed from earlier variants will work) and vaccination (whether enough variation in the spike protein will escape protection) these countries are getting serious.

After airlines required masks they had to further define what a mask was. There’s no more masks like the one that a Las Vegas Councilwoman and member of the Convention and Visitors Authority board promotes.

It’s become even more important to reduce the spread of infection now that we’ve seen the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutating in ways that make it more transmissible (as viruses too, but the this one had been mutating slowly). That’s because the more people hosting the virus, the more virus in the community, the greater the chance for further mutation.

If you travel, you find yourself in airports and on jet bridges, if you’re in indoor congregant settings with groups of other people then you want to use an N95 mask. These filter out at least 95% of particulates. They were tough to get early in the pandemic but that’s no longer the case.

Some readers will say ‘but in hospital settings these are properly fitted’ and that’s true. People are taught to use them as well. Get an N95 mask that comes as close to a proper fit as possible, I like this sample pack of different shapes and sizes. That’s not the same thing but it’s a lot better than wearing a cloth mask! And learn to wear it properly, there are plenty of videos on Youtube.

I’ve written up deals with N95 masks as cheap as $1.25 apiece, that deal is gone but if you’re buying a plane ticket then spend a little more for good masks which are no longer in short supply (especially non-surgical designs). Here’s a bunch make sure you buy one without a valve, that won’t be acceptable for travel because it doesn’t protect other people from you.

You can buy some here or here as well.

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. Can we please take mask wearing seriously? I mean it takes so little but can potentially help a lot. No one is losing their freedom by wearing a mask. Can’t believe there are still people who equate it to anything other than common decency and public health.

  2. And the reason the USA isn’t doing this is?!!! I have personally been buying and 95% using the medical grade masks since March. Early in the pandemic I got an offer from Zendure (a powerbank manufacturer) to buy KN95 masks. I could have told you this was best in class public policy more than 6 months ago. I know they were in short supply but if we had really used the defense production act early and fully converted in to PPE manufacturing early that could have worked. We should use the DPA in a WW II type style! Make people from other industries go in to PPE. Letting the free market run wild is why we have such a deadly and expansive case rate here!

  3. Cotton mask I can wash sometimes in the washing machine. I have also N95 mask which isn’t washable and it’s more safe since I have it just for act that I wear N95 mask, the same one from March 2020?

  4. This is a joke, right?

    I have cloth masks, double layers with nose pieces for tighter fit and pocket filter for PM2.5 filters. Which means I can change the filters every few hours and not breathe the same grungy air over and over.

    You DO realize you aren’t supposed to wear the same masks for hours, right?

    Made it to the Maldives and to Honduras and back safely using them.

    Mask fits securely over nose, unlike these that constantly slip, and around the mouth. Get outta here with this cloth masks are worthless argument. Just trying to sell and make a commission when not necessary.

  5. The hard part about cloth masks is that there is no standards which are easily recognizable.. While a cloth mask with a metal nose piece and a 95% efficient filter insert can be close to N95, how is a gate agent or flight attendants going to tell that? Save those filtered masks for grocery store trips. Still, a cloth mask over a N95 does allow for some personalization, which some people find important. I hope they continue to allow that.

  6. I love the comments that say that “government” needs to force companies to make more PPE – I know first hand, there are MANY companies that are eager to make more PPE. But, there are so many counterfeit things out there and getting regulatory approval for the real stuff is bogging down the entire system.

  7. Deutschland at it again, demanding all citizens conform to the way they want it done. It didn’t turn out well last time Lufthansa. Thought you would have learnt your lesson, but clearly not. LOL

  8. “this sample pack of different shapes and sizes” — doesn’t seem to link to anything. Can you update, please?

  9. A medical grade mask is not only a N95. Surgical masks qualify and are a lot cheaper than an N95. True N-95 masks are hard to find, not cheap and need to be fit tested to wear properly. Also they should not have exhalation valves. KN95 masks are not the same as N95 ones. I doubt LH can purchase enough true N95 masks and will likely us surgical masks.

  10. True N95 (e.g. 3M) masks are very hard to find and have a valve. I have a few and wear them on airplanes underneath the cloth mask. It’s cumbersome but protects me and complies with the airline requirements.

    If LH requires specific masks they ought to sell them at the gate or just add a mask fee to their fares. Because otherwise there will be mass confusion and unhappy customers.

  11. @Boraxo – 3M N95 masks are no longer hard to find, I have written many times about where to find them, they make masks both with and without valve

  12. If Lufthansa insists on killing their passenger traffic further they should provide the mask that they require. We can choose to fly with them or not.

  13. Let’s do the safest thing and have government mandate we all have to be in Bubble Boy outfits in public.
    To do less is complete irresponsibility.

  14. I am in the business professionally of selling Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). I work for D.A. International Group out of Seattle ( whose owner has nearly 30 years of experience manufacturing in China and importing to the USA. (1) 1KBrad’s comment immediately above is false. The NIH absolutely makes no such claim if you actually take the time to read the article and the author’s affiliation. (2) Patti is also incorrect in her statement about cloth masks. What she is not understanding is the size of the COVID-19 particle versus the density of both the fabric and stitching of a cloth mask. In short, COVID-19 particles can get through cotton masks. (3). Yes, surgical masks are much cheaper but most people do not wear them correctly — often with gaping holes on either side of each jaw defeating the purpose of the mask. And remember, you can also get COVID-19 through your ears and your eyes. Further, there are for levels of surgical masks — ASTM Levels 1 to 4. The dirt-cheapest masks are ASTM Level 1 and these won’t really protect you; you really should have ASTM Level 2 masks at a minimum. (4) Masks are made to standards — and the Chinese KN95 GB2626-2006 mask standard (and usually printed right on the mask) is currently accepted by the U.S. Government as a medical-rated mask (the FDA regularly updates a document known as Appendix A). D.A. International Group normally sells large quantities directly to hospitals (cutting out the middleman distributors). However, we also have a small quantity available to the public at less-than-retail prices. We have (1) KN95 Medical Grade masks (sold in packs of 10) — used for visiting doctor’s offices and all medical facilities; (2) KN95 Civil Grade masks (individually wrapped in packs of 50) — used for shopping or other errands. (3) ASTM Level 2 3-ply surgical masks — sold in boxes of 50: and (4) Digital Non-Contact infrared thermometers. Please write me at if I can help.

  15. To be honest, it seems to me that now this is the surest way. As soon as the pandemic began, we all wore disposable or cloth masks. But if you look at the results of these actions, it becomes clear that they were by no means effective. I understand how much we all, including myself, are already tired of a pandemic that lasts much longer than anyone imagined before. But the most important thing in this situation is our life and health in the first place. Therefore, I believe that Lufthansa has done everything right. Otherwise, we will never end this.

  16. @too many

    According to the CDC masks reduce spread up to 5.6%. Helpful but hardly the reason people get it or don’t. That has to do with distancing. Distancing prevents spread. Masks slightly reduces it… by 5.6% and only 1.2% for those over 65.

    Not quite what you hear on CNN huh?

    Read it, learn, understand facts:

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