Why You Need To Wear A Mask On A Plane Even If You Have Covid-19 Immunity

The idea of developing immunity from Covid-19 after you’ve had it isn’t new. And while antibodies seem to wane, that doesn’t mean immunity goes away. You may have memory T-cells fight off a new infection, too, although it’s possible your T-cells will just keep you from getting very sick rather than getting infected.

The CDC is finally acknowledging some immunity, but is taking a cautious approach. Even though immunity may last much longer, they’re saying you should be good for a year but they still advise distancing and mask wearing.

Since they’re only offering this in the context of saying someone who has recovered from the virus within the past 3 months doesn’t have to self-quarantine when exposed to someone with the virus, they’re not offering guidance on what practive activities someone should engage in after recovery.

Nonetheless, @RyanSchohr wants to know why people who have recovered have to wear masks on planes? Isn’t is just “feelings, image & marketing?”

It’s simple, really.

  • When you approach someone who doesn’t know you, whether on a plane or in a grocery store, they don’t know you’ve had the virus and recovered.

  • People with lab-confirmed positives in the past, followed by lab-confirmed negatives, don’t have green ‘no mask’ lights above their heads. Immunity passports won’t work for travel and ‘no mask passports’ are logistically even more problematic.

  • There’s no practical way for an airline to enforce a mask rule ‘only for those people who cannot spread the virus’.

Someone who cannot get the virus can’t spread it either. Assuming that the presence of antibodies (let alone t-cells, b-cells, or other immune system properties) form immunity for some period of time, a person won’t make others sick without wearing a mask.

However to reduce the spread of the virus many governments, businesses, and individuals have decided to require everyone to wear a mask. It’s a simple low cost approach, far less intrusive than a government shut down. It’s the conservative alternative to heavy-handed government health measures. And private businesses are certainly entitled to require this as a condition of service.

Go let friends and family know you’ve had the virus and recovered, and visit with them if you wish and they’re comfortable. Go dine inside restaurants without a mask where that’s permitted (ideally with other people who are similarly immune). Go work out at the gym, go to newly re-opened movie theaters, following the rules that those places have. Many businesses are open that people are cautiously avoiding – someone confirmed to have had and recovered from the virus recently likely doesn’t need to do that.

Understand that the only way to have a mask mandate is for the mandate to apply to everyone, and that mandate is in many cases the only alternative to stricter measures. Whether you agree with that scientifically or not you need to at least acknowledge that as the political reality. And that’s why an anti-masker should, I think, support mask wearing because it’s less intrusive than the policies that would happen otherwise.

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. Guy sounds like a entitled publicly seeker who has no clue about public heath. It’s usually the same guys who say they don’t need condoms for sex because they know they are “clean.” Yet guess what? When they get the virus they will be first ones in line demanding precious resources.

    It’s not hard to wear a mask to protect others, but he should feel free to force his doctor and dentist to remove theirs next time he gets surgery.

  2. Besides, it will help you avoid the flu and whatever else might be lurking out there. I’m all for masks on planes and public transit, even when the COVID19 scare is over.

  3. So we’re crafting laws/rules/edicts/decrees because they make people FEEL better? You’re kidding right?

  4. Old thinking: If you’re sick you should be quarantined or isolated and have your freedoms restricted.

    New thinking: Everybody should be quarantined or isolated and have their freedoms restricted whether they’re sick or not, because you can’t be too safe.

    Note that the people on whom this requirement is imposed get absolutely no benefit from it, but are made to bear the burden. Is that moral? Does anybody care whether its moral or not?

  5. So wear a cloth mask to prevent the spread, but cloth masks don’t prevent you from getting the virus, seems quite logical. Just employ some basic hygiene methods, cough into your elbow, don’t touch your face and wash your hands.

    650K+ die every year from heart disease, but we still eating like shit and smoking,
    1.25 million die from vehicle accidents, but we still driving to the dollar tree and red box,

    Can’t wait to see what’s in 2022.

  6. Apparently certain American jackwagons still can’t wrap their heads around simply having a modicum of concern or awareness regarding their neighbors well being. And of course, we all know damn well this is coming from the right side of the aisle. My Lord you people are absolutely toxic and obnoxious. 1000 dead Americans daily and you’re still fighting this?! There is a special place in hell for you creeps.

  7. So many clueless people out there. How hard is it to understand that you can be asymptomatic and still give the virus to someone else?

  8. What’s the point of a vaccine? If antibodies mean nothing then the vaccine is equally useless. We have to assume this will be with us for years. So the real question is, what level of restriction are we comfortable with indefinitely?

    No more travel? Wear a mask everywhere, always, from now on? No more bars. No more indoor dinning. No baseball. No football. No broadway. No new movies. No concerts. No weddings. Nothing left that makes us human.

    To be sure, we are staring down the barrel of a gun either way. But at some point we have to decide if it’s worth destroying the world to protect the 1% who are vulnerable.

    PS- I’m one of the 1% who is vulnerable. My time on this earth is limited compared to most. But I’d like to spend the time I have enjoying life. Not fearing death.

  9. It’s simple. Wear a mask to protect others. It’s not exactly a great hardship. Nobody has the “right” to possibly infect others, and the sooner we start, the quicker we can get over this Covid problem. Otherwise it’s going to be a long miserable time.

  10. The same people who say this isn’t a big deal that thousands are dying are also the ones that want to bomb abortion clinics because a fetus might be human. Oh yeah but after it’s born it doesn’t matter anymore because money is more important to healthcare. Strange logic.

    There was a time when America was an example to the world, but that time is over. Now the alt right and their suburban ken and Karens just want to make sure their grass is greener than others even if that means everyone is worse off.

  11. Most of you are going totally nuts. Apply your logic to Chicken Pox. Oh wait, that logic fails, let’s not mention it. My mom did get Typhus twice, so apparently we should use that to impose rules on everyone else. One of the rules of audit, as well as scientific studies is the use of *statistically valid* studies and sample sizes. It’s like a poll of 45 voters on Asheville, North Carolina, being used as the basis to say that North Carolina is 99% against anything but renewable energy. It makes a nice headline, but it’s statistically irrelevant.

    We pivot from deaths, to ventilators needed, to hospitalizations, to positive cases, to (hyperbole here) potential positive cases (guys dying in traffic accidents that test positive for COVID, for example). Remember when you only had high blood pressure at 200 systolic? Not you’re pre-hypertensive at 140. Just keep moving the bar.

    Most of the rest of you don’t remember that fear has been used to push a voluminous amount of things that most find abhorrent: putting Japanese in prison camps, saying Jews were the reason that Germany wasn’t succeeding after WWI, the re-education camps in China because some groups are a “threat to order,” etc.

    Life insurance (and auto/home) actuaries’ livelihoods depend on *accurately* gauging risk in order to not go broke. If the actual science was behind millions dying in the US (remember, that was a pronouncement earlier this year), why are insurers not massively raising rates (which they’re allowed to do according to state insurance regulators, but they’re not asking for out of the ordinary rate changes)?

    Humans suck at analyzing risk, that’s well known. The best we can do in the info sec world is to convince people to use one password for financial accounts, and one password for the other 178 logins they have. That still sucks.

    There’s a maxim I learned in the military (forces for you across the pond), that went like this, “Anything you do can get you killed, including doing nothing.” I have a verifiable higher risk of being killed in a traffic accident driving to pick up my curbside pickup order at Store X a mile away than I do of catching any random disease. A ton of people in Houston work in Oil and Gas, and I hit five continents in one year for work. Yet, not dead. I was more likely to have been killed for being identified as a Jew on the way from LHR to Leeds last year on the tube (or in France, and to a much lesser extent, Spain). But let’s not let facts or statistically relevant data get in the way of the narrative.

    Tom and Marv, I’d totally sit in a pub with you two to discuss normalcy. Galway 2021?

    The rest of you just keep doing you, and normal people will look back on this time as some weird blend of crap which resulted in …. whimpers.

  12. @Ryan. It doesnt have to be a black/white choice (mask forever, no mask forever) if the government gets it act together to combat and control the virus in an organized and uniform manner.

  13. Also keep in mind that the CDC specifically said this about people who had COVID in the past three months: “it’s important these individuals continue to social distance, wear masks, and practice good hand hygiene until scientists know more about long term immunity against COVID.” Not to mention that they also said that if you show symptoms you need to be retested even if you had COVID in the prior three months and they specifically say in the article “but made clear that any correlation to immunity was still unknown.” I see no mention anywhere in the linked article about one year immunity and I do not see them claiming immunity, instead I see them saying they really don’t know.

  14. @Ryan Yes lets kill millions of people because a clown like you doesnt want to be bothered wearing a mask or social distancing. They are working on vaccines and treatments. Nobody is saying we need to do this forever so stop making nonsense up. Seriously there is evidence that this virus may cause extensive damage even to people who recover so the 1% comment is a complete joke. We are still learning what the long term consequences to this virus are and the damage appears to impact people of all ages and conditions. God forbid you miss a season of football!

  15. So even though I have had a vasectomy I need a condom? No. Absolutely not. If I am immune, I do NOT need a mask or any other comfort object for someone else. That is straight out of The Giver. Get over it. IF someone is immune, NO THEY DO NOT NEED TO PROTECT OTHERS FROM NON-SICKNESS. Oh my gosh. I cannot believe what I just read. This is like one-size-fits-all public school low-level testing. Is that how you want your daughter taught? The lowest common denominator? Or as high as she can go at her level? You may have been home and reading too much for too long, Gary.

  16. @Matin – “So even though I have had a vasectomy I need a condom?” Are you having sex with random people that you do not even speak to first?

  17. A whole lot of Americans are not going to put up with mask-wearing forever. They just aren’t. Especially when they see how things are going in places like Sweden.

    If they see no reason for it, they will eventually put in politicians who will do their bidding.

    I guess once all the brick-and-mortar businesses close because a lot of people won’t bother going in, and local/property tax receipts plummet, attitudes might change. Already I saw from the American Restaurant Association that perhaps 25% of restaurants will never reopen.

  18. @toomanybooks – mask wearing will last voluntarily as part of the culture for some people to some degree, but as long as mask wearing remains an airline policy and not a government regulation it won’t last ‘forever’ as a universal requirement. The pandemic won’t last forever. At some point in 2021 we’ll be back to mostly normal life.

  19. @Tom – great fake news suggesting 1.25MM people die annually from car accidents

    These comparisons to ways of dying that are non-transmittable as well are just stupid

  20. @UA-NYC – you’re right in that @Tom was incorrect suggesting 1.25MM people die annually from car accidents. According to the Association For Safe International Road Travel, the number is 1.35MM. Fake news indeed.
    Regardless, wearing a mask is a pain but being a good citizen by protecting others is a MINOR sacrifice. Everyone’s so caught up in hyper-partisanship and becoming outraged by everything that we’re all losing sight of what’s important. Sack up, wear a mask and stop crying about it.

  21. @UA-NYC It says a lot about the way our minds work, how we process information and make decisions that you think that this is fake news. As many people know, though you don’t, well over 1 million people due from road accidents every year. These deaths are so routine that they’re never reported in the news, and nobody would ever think it a wise move to shut down the world, ban automobiles, or otherwise hobble ourselves to prevent them. The far fewer covid deaths, since they are blasted in our ears and eyes nonstop everyday, has convinced nearly everybody — as convinced as they are about anything in their lives — that the far smaller risk from Covid is worth destroying our economy, culture, society, etc. And based upon this selectively provided information about Covid, people think that they are all risk control experts, sufficient to tell you that your very correct — understated really — data are false.

  22. LOL. Wearing face diapers is pure theater, which will cease to be important on the first Wednesday in November.

  23. Besides the fact that the COVID-19 testing is completely flawed, the case and death rates grossly distorted, it is clear that if the fear-mongering that is being propagandized everywhere a person turns were actually correct, we never would have survived as a species. Even a scintilla of critical thinking easily shows how ridiculous current “recommendations” and practice truly are.

  24. Gary – Your last paragraph summed up everything wrong with the lack of thinking going on regarding not just Covid but other issues as well.

    1) This is 99% political and 1% virus.

    2) NO contrarian viewpoints can be expressed without censorship. This is a big one. There are doctors, scientists, experts that are silenced if it goes against mainstream. This is fundamentally wrong. No difference than the flat earth believers centuries ago when other experts said the opposite. They were silenced.

    You just want to take the coward route and cave in to fear. Everywhere I go I see 99.9% people wearing masks. I wonder why there is no data from the hospitals if those incoming were wearing a mask?? This “thing” can’t be stopped by a mask or even have its viral load factor reduced. In fact, could be just the opposite.

    But my comment isn’t about mask or no mask. It’s about people having no backbone to demand to hear from experts on the other side. Instead they just bow down and listen to whatever they say. Next….vaccines that won’t work which will inject poisons into you, perhaps forcibly in many countries.

    Is this where we want to go?? Maybe we should do better as a world an improve our immune system. Install plumbing in those countries that have none. Be able to take sue the vaccine makers because as it is now they have no incentive to be careful. You can’t go after them. They are shielded.

    This is all about control. We killed the world economy. Middle class is decimated. USA has the worst health out of the G20. We have far greater deaths from people consuming garbage as food, no exercise, overweight and now the third leading cause of death…..hospital mistakes.

    Guess what….it’s going to get a lot worse before election time. Just watch what you will see on mainstream. Sheep…..you better wake up!!!

  25. Denmark is mandating face mask use for users of public transit in Denmark starting from August 22nd.

    Southern Sweden has parts that are considering it too, as they really don’t want to be cut off in ways again from Denmark. But the Stockholm lords of relevance in this pandemic age are even still against face mask use in Sweden.

  26. @TM. Spot on. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter to Gary and the other TDS-afflicted Covidiots around here. They won’t stop with this nonsense until November.

  27. I have to wonder why these rabid anti-maskers aren’t fighting against seatbelt use in automobiles.

    Sweden’s economy did materially worse than Denmark’s economy during the peak of their pandemic hits in the second quarter of this year. And Sweden’s virus death counts are also way worse than all its neighbors.

    The Swedish lesson is that the economy suffers more during a pandemic when the national “leaders” mess up and there is national “leadership” sending mixed messages to try to downplay the risk of the public health emergency or otherwise trying to “other-ize” who dies or otherwise gets hits hard by this virus spreading.

    A wimpy, waffling, risk-downplaying Swedish/Trump response to this pandemic costs both the economy and lives more than would otherwise be the case.

    Thank your lucky stars that Trump isn’t in charge of dealing with an Ebola outbreak in the US; and hope that Trump’s not in charge in case we again have an Ebola case in the US.

  28. “It’s the conservative alternative to heavy-handed government health measures.”

    This is nothing more than a false dichotomy. Also, can anyone predict when Gary and his minions will figure it out? We’re almost five months in and these sheep still “think” this virus is the second coming of the Black Plague. Amazing!

  29. Gary Leff says:
    @TM – “This is all about control.” Why do you think people want to control you into wearing a mask?

    This is complex and simple to answer. I can explain the simple here. Global vaccination.

    Healthy People 2020 agenda was focused on getting adults vaccinated. Kids being vaccinated is peanuts compared to the money made from adults. Big pharma needed a vehicle to drive this agenda. Fauci is already on record in 2016 saying there will be an epidemic during Trump administration. CV-19 is this catalyst. Spook the people enough, continue to drive the agenda that “a vaccine is the only thing that gets us back to normal”, direct mainstream media to non-stop drive this message and force as best as you can to get everyone to wear a face mask until the holy grail is available….boom…you have your reason.

    That doctors video seen by 17 million people couple weeks ago that was then scrubbed and censored by social media. About HCQ. Why did that happen? Because at a $20 cure, pharma makes no money with that and their agenda is destroyed.

    This rDNA is extremely bad. Never been used before in humans. It is DNA altering and non reversible the damage it will cause. Trials have already demonstrated severe reactions. It will have no effect on CV, other then to get the millions of sheep and governments to pony up for it.

    Mckesson Corp, which was just announced to be partnering with the government to distribute Covid vaccines, was convicted of FRAUD and paid a record fine. How does this happen? Corruption at is finest. All four of the top vaccine companies are criminals. They have all been found guilty of murder. Yet, they continue to exist. It’s so messed up.

    Now, mainstream media is pushing people to take the flu vaccine. Which is the worst thing you can do with CV because it will just make it worse. Though if a number of studies are correct…..herd immunity will be at its peak around August 25th and that’s it. Perhaps “they” want to push the flu vaccine to say that was the reason for the decline. They did this for years with vaccines, which is completely incorrect.

    This is all about money and population control. The global technocrats want less people on the planet. At the moment they have their “useful idiots” driving this message from multiple sources and they don’t even know this will ultimately be their own undoing.

    I can say for sure we have seen nothing yet. As the election gets closer all kinds of black swans – which aren’t really black swans if they were knowingly triggered, will arise. The fear will intensify. The divide will continue. The middle class will be/has been decimated. Dollar will be worthless. Today, Buffett is out of bank stocks and into gold. He knows what is happening. Get into hard assets. Federal reserve is now the biggest cartel in the world. Printing money like no tomorrow. This won’t end well…..

  30. @Mak/Jake PB – both of you apparently are unable to understand the “dollar tree and red box” reference that “Tom” quoted (which would align with his 647K heart disease quote), clearly referencing the USA. And if you talk about auto fatalities in the USA each year, it’s 38K.

    Yes, if you include all ~8-9B people globally, including a lot of countries where there are few if any motor laws, it’s a much bigger number.

    SMH at you idiots

  31. TM’s giving us QNON conspiracy nonsense and a fab of that weird Trump-supporting Cameroonian-American doctor Stella Grace Immanuel who claims that masturbation invites demonic possession and also peddles other sort of medical quackery.

  32. @James N – maybe one of the QAnon FB groups is more of your thing? You’d probably be welcomed with open arms there.

  33. GU Wonder – I don’t know what Q is other then a character I like from Star Trek. Could use one of those entities these days.

    As for your other sheepish comment, I personally have a friend in NYC who went into hospital in March with this “thing” and was out in three days after receiving HCQ, Zinc and Zpak. In the days before censorship.

    It will be people like me, the 1% er’s who save sorry butts like you who don’t know any better. We do it by speaking up and making change vs just sitting around waiting for authority figures to spoon feed you disinformation. Upon when you wake up to then come running to us for knowledge and help.

  34. It is beyond outrageous that some more definitive answers from cdc and nih have not been provided to the american public about immunity from this virus after having it and then recovered from it. This is an important and fundemental question because it also has implications for how effective a vaccine might be, and for how long. Failure to inform the publice of this basic but vital information is unethical, unprofessional and a major failure of our public health institutions. It also risks the public trust in those institutions. If you truly can’t provide answers to this simple question then how on earth can you justify spending billions and billions of dollars on some baseless hope for a vaccine enabled immunity from this virus.

  35. @walter
    The novel part of corona virus means new. That means that there is a lot we haven’t figured out yet, and even some things that we thought were so aren’t.
    How can we justify spending billions on a working toward a vaccine? Because the disease is calling trillions of dollars of damage. Even if the odds were only a few percent, it would make sense spending billions to find a vaccine.
    And BTW, it’s the virus that’s causing the damage, not the government response to it. Restaurant usage crashed when virus deaths were high, even before the government imposed restrictions. Sweden’s economy isn’t doing better than it’s neighbors, even though Sweden imposed far fewer restrictions on it’s citizens.

  36. TM,

    I won’t need saving by you or anyone like you. And “God save me” from being “saved” by anyone latching onto QAnon conspiracies and having blind faith in their Lord Trump so much so that they try to sell medical quackery and other Trump-peddled nonsense in travel blogs‘ comment sections.

  37. Jim Lovejoy,

    When comparing Sweden’s economic output and unemployment situation with Denmark’s, it is indeed noteworthy that Sweden did worse than Denmark during what has been the peak pandemic period of this year: the 2nd quarter. And for all the “Make Sweden Greater Again” approach to this virus, Sweden ended up with a much higher per capita death count for this virus than all of its neighbors. Also, Sweden’s authorities are still very much hostile to public mask use, to such extent that it should remind people of Trump‘s history with masks as a public health measure.

    I have said for a long time that Sweden is the most Americanized country in Scandinavia. And it shows at this time too.

  38. Saw a great quote out of Britain…… “we all now there are stupid people and there are nasty people….but never has stupid been so nasty and nasty been so stupid”… my take is we have had plenty of crisis in our history but never has our country been divided by such hatefulness and yes it’s all on Trump, never has there been a president so vindictive, petty and self centered. We are paying for it, whether your politics lean left or right.

  39. @JohnW – fully agreed, we will look back at the past four years as one of the low periods in US history, led by a racist, xenophobic, misogynist who personally enriched himself and his family and cronies, denied the biggest health crisis in 100 years, and tried his absolute best to tear the country apart.

    Biden’s not a miracle worker, but he will do everything in his power to start the healing and put us back together.

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