Several European Airlines Now Refusing To Enforce Government Mask Rules

Much like in the U.S., Dutch mask mandates are falling away everywhere… except on airlines and in airports. (The U.S. still requires them on business and trains as well.) So four Dutch airlines led by KLM have decided this is so stupid, they’re just going to stop enforcing it starting March 23.

“We find it disappointing that the use of face masks during boarding and during the entire flight is still being considered by the Dutch government, while this has been abandoned everywhere in the Netherlands,” a spokesperson for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines said.

The national flag carrier is joined by Transavia, Corendon and the Dutch subsidiary of TUI Airways.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic announced the end of their mask mandates (no longer required by the U.K.) and Heathrow airport followed suit along with some other airports in Europe including Paris Charles de Gaulle (though Air France must still require masks). Flights to the U.S. still require masks even when taking off from abroad.

Despite BA’s announced lifting of its mask mandate, the airline hasn’t actually done it and is telling crew “an issue which they can’t disclose has arisen so masks will remain mandatory on all flights until further notice.”

The British Airways twitter account still shows face mask rules ending:

This may make it untenable to continue to enforce the rule. Passengers have been told they don’t have to wear masks, so confusion will reign. And already in my recent experience BA crews are lax about face masks – I didn’t see them asking any maskless passengers to mask up, and every single one of them working in or passing through the business class cabin on a recent transatlantic flight had their mask down beneath their nose for at least part of the flight.

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. I flew KLM in October from Amsterdam to Stuttgart, Germany. In my experience, nobody enforced masks at the Amsterdam airport even though they were required. About 30% of the people in the terminal, in shops, lounges, and restaurants were not wearing masks. Likewise, I flew Air France in December to Paris. Air France was requiring medical-grade masks but nobody enforced this at boarding or on the flight. I never wore my mask in-flight in business-class. I didn’t see anyone else either.

  2. What I think is hilarious is that some people think that the mask mandate in airports/planes is a major factor causing lower business travel. Besides just being a pain, there is no logical reason why it would limit legitimate corporate travel. The factor that I have experienced is that employees have shifted away from the office, and a lot of people might only come in 1 day a week. None of my vendors have been travelling to see me because there is nobody in the office! No big sales pitches with 8-10 people, no drop-ins from unscheduled vendors etc… It’s all done virtual. If a mask was keeping a person from travelling, they really didn’t need to travel that bad.

  3. I just don’t need a positive test before I return home. I’m tired of wearing them I just did 21 days in spain and italy in feb.

  4. Flew back from the UK last week. BA was not enforcing masks either way to Heathrow. I also tested negative for Covid 24 hours before my flight then tested positive the day after i arrived home.

    Both rules are performative at this point as you’ve stated Gary.

  5. JAL and Singapore Airlines don’t bother you about wearing one either. Seems there are a lot of FA’s on US Airlines that have an agenda and a power trip which makes flying here suck. Yay for the Dutch!

  6. I guess covid must be soaring in the Netherlands right? no?</blockquote
    Yes, it is soaring:
    Netherlands – 14-day average change in COVID cases: +45%
    — NY Times

  7. I guess covid must be soaring in the Netherlands right? no?

    Yes, it is soaring:
    Netherlands – 14-day average change in COVID cases: +45%
    — NY Times

  8. Flying DL/KLM this Friday CLT – JFK – AMS. I will wear a mask. My wife is high risk (MS), and so far me and her following the rules and medical advice has resulted in me and her not getting COVID even though we have traveled abroad and short haul numerous times. That is worth something to me. In fact, that is worth everything to me. Y’all go ahead and pretend all is fine. It might be. But I will wear a mask in public spaces/transport until professionals can confirm this disease is gone for good.

  9. @CLT Flyer – “this disease” will NEVER be gone for good. Accept that. Countries around the world are moving to an endemic model where COVID will still exist (and be a threat for some people) but is not a major issue for the vast majority and is largely controllable with vaccines and therapeutic treatments. If you and your wife want to wear a mask the rest of your life (hell you can be buried in one for all I care) GO AHEAD. However, don’t expect others to do so simply to make you feel “safe and comfortable” – that isn’t happening.

    BTW I live in Charlotte too and it is so nice to see that after the mask mandate ended a couple of weeks ago almost no one is wearing them except either people like you that has a serious risk factor or sheep that are afraid of their own shadow (the vast majority of mask wearers).

  10. @DCS – yes case are up because countries are treating it as endemic and ending restrictions. That is good! The cure is worse than the disease. Sure more will get infected and some will die but we can’t protect people forever.

    We may well need to accept COVID will kill 500-1000 people in the US daily for the foreseeable future and move forward. Frankly I rarely even think of COVID anymore and if I get infected it will likely be gluelike or less since I’m vaccinated and boosted plus not in a high risk group. I can live w that and so can the vast majority of people. On the other hand you can be scared of your shadow or a sheep – your choice

  11. @AC. I will never understand why people such as yourself are so angry and hostile. Your underlying points are valid in that COVID is here to stay and that those of us who are vaxed and boosted probably have little to fear. You acknowledge people can choose to make their own decision but then go on to denigrate most as sheep, afraid of their own shadow. Why the need for that kind of attitude? Have a little respect and tolerance.

  12. Just following orders is never a valid excuse when it comes to enforcement of policies that limit freedom. Flight attendants have the option to ignore enforcing abusive, inhumane, ridiculous, and arbitrary rules, laws, and regulations just like every cop has the option to stay in his car and not harass motorists for not wearing a seat belt or ignore someone who has drugs when walking the beat. We see sanctuary cities, counties, and states for the enforcement of gun control as an example.

    Flight attendants had the option to do this a year and a half ago. They didn’t and many passengers have been victims of this abuse, including 2 year old children kicked off planes with their families for not being able to wear a mask. We should keep this in mind.

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