Airlines for America, the industry trade organization representing the U.S. airlines, announced this week that its member airlines will step up enforcement of facial covering policies for passengers.
The organization, which represents most of the U.S.’s major airlines, said in a statement that mask enforcement is expected to last “throughout the COVID-19 health crisis”
“U.S. airlines are very serious about requiring face coverings on their flights. Carriers are stepping up enforcement of face coverings and implementing substantial consequences for those who do not comply with the rules,” said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio.
“Face coverings are one of several public health measures recommended by the CDC as an important layer of protection for passengers and customer-facing employees.”
Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines will be implementing the following policy updates:
Clearly articulate its individual face covering policy in communications with customers, which may require passengers to acknowledge the specific rules during the check-in process.
Have crew members announce specific details regarding the carrier’s face covering policy including the consequences passengers could face for violating the policy once on board.
Consequences for noncompliance
Each carrier will determine the appropriate consequences for passengers who are found to be in noncompliance of the airline’s face covering policy up to and including suspension of flying privileges on that airline.
In concert with the announcement, United Airlines said starting on June 18, any passenger that does not comply when onboard a United flight will be placed on an internal travel restriction list. Customers on this list will lose their travel privileges on United for a duration of time to be determined pending a comprehensive incident review.
United currently requires all passengers to wear a face covering onboard its flights and expects that policy to remain in place for at least the next 60 days.
According to United, under this new policy, if a flight attendant notices or is informed of a customer onboard who is not wearing a face covering and that passenger does not fall within an exception, the flight attendant will proactively inform the customer that for the health and safety of everyone, face coverings are mandatory for all customers and crew on board. They will also offer to provide the customer with a mask if needed.
If the customer continues to be non-compliant, the flight attendant will file a report of the incident, which will initiate a formal review process. “Any final decision or actions regarding a customer's future flight benefits will not occur onboard but instead take place after the flight has reached its destination and the security team has investigated the incident,” United said.