United Airlines Will Welcome Back Some Banned Mask Resisters, And An Ex-Labor Leader Is Furious

The former head of the United Airlines pilots union is not happy with his airline’s plan to allow some passengers banned for mask violations to fly again.

Alaska Airlines announced that they are bringing back passengers banned for mask violations and not for other conduct. I expect Delta Air Lines to do something similar.

At the beginning of the pandemic, when airlines first instituted mask requirements on their own – long before it was a government requirement – the enforcement mechanism was that passengers couldn’t fly without being masked. Several airlines said at the time that any ban would be for the duration< of the requirement. That was the American Airlines explanation, and they haven’t responded to my inquiries over bringing such passengers back onto their aircraft.

Contra Todd Insler, rules being followed would mean airlines that said “ban will be for the duration of the mandate” following that… rule.

Of course bans for non-mask behavior wouldn’t fall under that. Perhaps the policy should have been that all mask bans are permanent. Perhaps some airlines even changed the policy without making public statements around that, so bans which followed the change wouldn’t be overturned now.

And in any case, for a passenger to be reinstated that means that the airline followed its rules and banned them to begin with. Most punishments in American society aren’t permanent. And I wouldn’t expect any airline to re-instate a passenger who treated any “[c]rew members..[as] literal punching bags.” On the other hand a family banned over a maskless two year old? That’s likely to be a different story.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Most punishments in American society aren’t permanent? Tell that to people with arrest and conviction records after they are released and see how it goes with their work, housing and other opportunities in life in American society.

  2. You lost me at: Most punishments in American society aren’t permanent. As written by a middle-aged white man.

  3. The family and others who were kicked off planes because of masks violations should sue airlines immediately!!!

  4. I agree with several other commentators, if you don’t have the cash, you socially serve the time forever. Of course if you really have the cash you likely don’t serve any time at all.

    But my understanding is that in Europe masks weren’t required for those less than 5, which certainly is easier to enforce than on 2 year olds! So maybe there will be some slack in those specific cases. (Right now the general wearing rules over there are a total mess, varying by airline and enforcement level, but clearly moving towards abandonment.)

  5. Insler is probably just mad because UNvaccinated pilots have returned to UAL cockpits.

  6. I’m astonished Todd Insler found his “union” voice after years of being Scott Kirby’s Consigliere!
    Amazing what happens when you lose you power but find your long lost voice, isn’t it?!
    CORE4:
    Safety
    Caring
    Dependability
    Efficiency

    I guess the first 2 don’t apply if you’re an employee, but the second 2 will get you fired if you don’t adhere to them!

    Funny old world when you live by slogans and societal pressures to be “seen to be doing!”

  7. For children, that is different. For adults who refused to follow the rules, they should remain banned. period. People scream all the time that if others would obey cops, they wouldn’t get beat up or worse – so just follow the damn rules and if not drive, walk, take a train, or stay home. I do think it is time to end the mandate but while it was a mandate, you should follow it or not get on a plane.

  8. Can they bring back the employee that were targeted by customer and coworkers for not wearing a mask appropriately. Or for not being vaccinated…

  9. Between Delta and United, there were a combined 3000 or so passengers blacklisted for being illegals who violated the mandated mask requirement and are to be allowed to fly them again.

  10. I guess profit outweighs bad behavior, some of which was very dangerous to other passengers, all of it immature and selfish and causing a huge inconvenience to all when the plane(s) had to be diverted. Ah, the almighty dollar wins again. Shame on Alaska and all others who are willing to look the other way.

  11. Airlines especially united are revenue whores
    They would sell thief soul for a dollar
    Their history of ignoring disabilities to sell seats
    Money always over people
    They always seem overpriced for revenue or award and while equally off topic their award cancellation fees easily the worst of legacy carriers
    I’ll do anything to avoid flying them

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