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Airlines for America (A4A), a trade organization that represents leading U.S. airlines, declared that its member carriers are vowing to vigorously enforce face-covering policies put in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some passengers have reportedly been seen shirking the current requirements that they wear masks, or other nose-and-mouth coverings, in the airport and aboard their flights. All mainline U.S. carriers (except Allegiant) had implemented the mandatory wearing of masks by passengers back in May.
As it turned out, most major airlines weren't prepared to back up those policies. In fact, American, Delta and United had all initially instructed crew members not to force passengers to wear masks if they encountered pushback from the customer.
But, as the crisis wears on, it has become evident that noncompliance with these face-covering mandates is something that simply won't fly.
"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," A4A President and CEO, Nicholas E. Calio, said in a statement. "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."
Therefore, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines have all stated that they will be applying the following policy updates:
1. Pre-Flight Communications: Each individual airline will clearly articulate its specific face-covering policy in communications with customers, and may require acknowledgment from passengers regarding their understanding of these rules during the check-in process.
2. Onboard Announcements: Crew members on board the aircraft will announce specific details regarding the specific carrier's face-covering policy, and outline the consequences that passengers could face if they violate the policy.
3. Consequences for Noncompliance: Whereas, at the gate, noncompliant customers may be prevented from boarding their flight, once they're on board the aircraft, means of enforcing these policies become limited. Each individual carrier will implement its own consequences for passengers who flout the airline's face-covering policy as it deems appropriate, up to and including suspension of flying privileges with that carrier.
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Laurie Baratti is a San Diego-based journalist whose work has previously appeared in publications like TravelAge West, SPACE,...
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