Airlines pressured to require passengers to wear masks

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Airline passenger mask
Photo Credit: TravnikovStudio/Shutterstock

Following JetBlue’s decision on April 27 to mandate that all passengers wear masks, other U.S. airlines have come under pressure to do the same. 

In a letter to trade group Airlines for America, leaders of both parties in the House transportation committee urged airlines to adopt mask requirements for all crew and passengers. 

“It is critical that your member airlines have in place strong and consistent policies that limit the spread of Covid-19 and protect the safety and health of frontline airline workers and passengers,” reads the letter. 

The letter drew a quick endorsement from flight attendants. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American Airlines flight attendants, issued a statement praising the transportation committee leadership. 

“That masks are not yet being required during this pandemic is putting people’s lives at risk,” said the union’s president, Julie Hedrick. 

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents flight attendants at United, Alaska, Spirit and Frontier among other carriers, had earlier praised JetBlue for leading the way on mandating masks.

Both unions had also previously written letters to government regulators asking for federal implementation of a mask mandate for airline passengers.

JetBlue’s mask requirement goes into effect May 4. Passengers must wear masks during check-in, boarding, the flight and disembarkation.

Some foreign airlines are implementing mask requirements, including Lufthansa. 

In an emailed statement, Airlines for America noted that all U.S. carriers are in compliance with CDC guidance and that they have implemented a variety steps -- including new cleaning protocols, back-to-front boarding and blocking middle seats -- to safeguard passengers. 

“The safety and wellbeing of passengers and crew is the top priority of U.S. airlines. This continues to be a rapidly evolving situation and U.S. carriers remain in close contact with Congress, the administration, federal agencies and public health experts,” the trade group said.

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