After a federal judge in Florida struck down a national mask mandate on airplanes and mass transit Monday, airlines and airports swiftly began repealing their requirements that passengers wear face coverings.
Airlines, airports and mass transit systems are now free to make their own decisions about mask requirements, resulting in a mix of responses.
Many major airlines switched to a mask optional policy, with some eliciting cheers from passengers when the changes were announced over loudspeakers. The Transportation Safety Agency said Monday night that it would it will no longer enforce the mask requirement, and airports in Houston and Dallas almost immediately did away with their mandates after the TSA announcement.
The mask requirement covered airlines, airports, mass transit and taxis, and was the biggest vestige of pandemic restrictions that were once the norm across the country.
The TSA said that after a judge shot down the CDC’s mask mandate, the agency would no longer be requiring face masks be worn. Many airlines and Amtrak are now making the protective gear optional for workers and passengers.. NBC New York’s Jessica Cunnington reports.
Here’s a list of what the major U.S. airlines have said about their face mask policies since the judge’s ruling:
Alaska Airlines made masks optional for their customers after the announcement regarding change in mask policy was made.
“Face masks have been like boarding passes for nearly two years — you couldn’t fly without one. But, as of today, masks are optional in airports and onboard aircraft, effective immediately,” a statement on the company’s website reads,
The airline noted that masks are now optional for domestic U.S. flights, but are still required on flights to and from Canada.
Alaska Airlines also addressed the issue of those passengers who had been banned from flying with the company again after not following the previous mask policy sometime ovr the past two years.
“Throughout the last two years, we have relied on reporting from agents and flight attendants to ban noncompliant guests from traveling while the federal mask policy remained in effect,” the airline said. “Based on our reports, we will have some guests whose behavior was particularly egregious who will remain banned, even after the mask policy is rescinded.”
American said that face masks will “no longer be required for our customers and team members at U.S. airports and on domestic flights…In keeping with out commitment to creating a welcoming environment for everyone who travels with us, customers and team members may choose to continue to wear masks at their own discretion.”
Delta Air Lines
Delta said that “effective immediately, masks are optional for all airport employees, crew members and customers inside U.S. airports and onboard aircraft.” The airline said that employees and customers may continue to wear masks if they choose,
“Given the unexpected nature of this announcement, please be aware that customers, airline employees and federal agency employees – such as TSA – may be receiving this information at different times. You may experience inconsistent enforcement during the next 24 hours as this news is more broadly communicated – remember to show understanding and patience with others who may not be aware enforcement is no longer required,” the statement continued. “Communications to customers and in-airport signage and announcements will be updated to share that masking is now optional – this may take a short period of time.”
Delta added that they are “relieved to see the U.S. mask mandate lift to facilitate global travel as COVID-19 has transitioned to an ordinary seasonal virus.”
In a tweet, the company stated that face masks were now optional for passengers and crew.
“To mask or not to mask, the choice is yours. Masks are now optional on domestic flights, however, certain airports or countries may still require masks, so check the policy at your destination prior to departure and we’ll see you in the sky,” read the tweet.
For those heading to the Hawaiian islands (or just using Hawaiian Airlines to get elsewhere), face masks are now optional for guests and employees on flights, the airline announced.
“We advise travelers to stay informed and follow mask requirements that may remain in effect at their origin or arrival airports. Guests who wish to continue wearing face masks are welcome to do so,” the airline stated.
Jet Blue Airlines
Jet Blue issued a statement saying that “In line with Monday’s federal court ruling and the Transportation Security Administration’s guidance, mask wearing will now be optional on JetBlue. While no longer required, customers and crewmembers are welcome to continue wearing masks in our terminals and on board our aircraft.”
Southwest said that their employees and customers “will be able to choose whether they would like to wear a mask, and we encourage individuals to make the best decision to support their personal wellbeing.”
The airline added that their additional levels of protection, such as their “sophisticated cabin air ventilation systems onboard our aircraft…that removes at least 99.97% of airborne particles” will continue to be used.
Spirit announced that face masks would be optional for all onboard their flights.
“We understand some Guests may want to continue wearing face coverings on flights, and that’s perfectly fine under our optional policy,” the airline said in a tweet.
United Airlines said in a statement that, effective immediately, masks would no longer be required on domestic flights or certain international flights.
“While this means that our employees are no longer required to wear a mask – and no longer have to enforce a mask requirement for most of the flying public – they will be able to wear masks if they choose to do so, as the CDC continues to strongly recommend wearing a mask on public transit,” United said.