WebMD News Brief

Airline Face Covering Rules Start Monday

airplane seats

May 4, 2020 - Today in the world of coronavirus news –

On Monday, several major airlines will begin requiring passengers to wear face coverings during flights, which they announced within the past few days. Southwest Airlines was the final airline to announce its face mask requirement on Friday.

“Wearing a face covering isn't about protecting yourself, it's about protecting those around you. This is the new flying etiquette,” Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer of JetBlue, said in a statement. JetBlue was the first major U.S. airline to require passengers to wear masks, which the company announced on April 27. Delta and American followed 3 days later.

For most airlines, the new guideline starts in the check-in lobby and includes the boarding gates, jet bridges, and airplane cabins, except during meals. Those who can’t keep a mask in place, such as children, won’t be required to wear one.

Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Lufthansa Group will begin to encourage customers to wear masks on May 4, which they all announced within the last week. A few days later, on May 8, Frontier Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines will join, and a few days after that, on May 11, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines, will require passengers to wear masks as well. Air Canada has required customers to wear masks since April 17.

In most cases, airlines will provide masks to passengers who don’t have one.

“While we continue to encourage customers to bring their own face covering when traveling with us, supplies will be available for customers who need them,” according to a Delta statement.

The airlines have also announced other measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, such as using pre-packaged foods and sealed drinks during meal service and changing seat assignments and boarding procedures to promote social distancing. More information can be found on each airline’s COVID-19 policy page.

“American will not assign 50% of main cabin middle seats or seats near flight attendant jump seats on every flight, and will only use those middle seats when necessary,” according to a March 24 statement.

International airlines have extra policies as well. Korean Air has provided flight crew members with protective gear, googles, masks, and gloves, and passengers are required to wear masks.

“Protective gowns are being provided on medium- and long-haul inbound flights as overseas COVID-19 cases continue to increase significantly,” according to a Korean Air statement.

The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to all global destinations. It updates travel health notices online and encourages ongoing face and hand hygiene, social distancing, and disinfectant guidelines, as posted on its website.

WebMD Health News Brief Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on May 04, 2020


Delta Airlines, news release

Jet Blue, news release

United Airlines, news release

American Airlines, news release

Southwest Airlines, news release

Alaska Airlines, news release

Korean Air, news release

The Centers for Disease Control

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