Airlines Threaten to Ban Passengers Refusing Masks

Airlines Threaten to Ban Passengers Refusing Masks
© iStock/Getty Images Plus/Viktor_Gladkov Face masks are largely mandated aboard flights amid COVID-19.
By Rich Thomaselli, TravelPulse

What previously might have been interpreted as a suggestion is now becoming a reality for many airline travelers.

U.S. carriers are cracking down on passengers who do not wear face masks aboard flights and have started to ban some travelers who refuse. Airlines had been lax in their enforcement of the rule, which led many ticket-holders to the belief that wearing a mask was a personal choice.

Delta Air Lines is the latest carrier to bring the hammer down, according to CNN.

"So far, there have thankfully only been a handful of cases, but we have already banned some passengers from future travel on Delta for refusing to wear masks on board," wrote CEO Ed Bastian in a memo to Delta employees Thursday.

American Airlines has already banned one passenger, Brandon Straka, who was removed from a New York-to-Dallas flight for refusing to wear a mask. Straka will be allowed to fly American again only when the policy requiring masks is lifted.

United, which last week announced a policy to ban passengers from future flights who fail to comply with the mask requirement, confirmed Thursday that it had also taken such action.

So the airlines are working harder at the issue—but they are not working together.

CNN noted that carriers are not sharing information with each other, so one passenger who is banned on Delta could conceivably make a reservation on American, and a passenger banned on American could make a reservation on United, and so on.

"Parts of the country have seen a resurgence of Covid-19, and this week new cases nationwide grew at their highest level since April," Bastian wrote. "That's why it is more important than ever to adhere to the safety and health guidelines we have put in place to keep you safe. One of the most effective measures we have is wearing a mask, which numerous studies have shown can slow the spread of the virus. We take the requirement to wear a mask very seriously."

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