Wow: British Airways Drops Face Mask Requirement – One Mile at a Time

It looks like the first major, global airline is about to remove the requirement to wear a face mask while flying…

In this post:

British Airways to ditch face coverings on Wednesday

It’s being reported that both British Airways and London Heathrow Airport will no longer require passengers to wear face masks as of Wednesday, March 16, 2022. It’s expected that the full details will be revealed in the next 24 hours, but this has now been confirmed by multiple sources.

There is one small caveat, which is that the rules will be destination dependent:

  • Some destinations have transportation mask mandates on the ground, meaning that travelers will need to wear masks when they arrive in or depart from another country
  • Some destinations require travelers to wear masks for the entirety of the flight; for example, the current US transportation mask mandate requires this through April 18, 2022, so masks will still be required on flights to & from the United States

The UK no longer has any sort of a mask mandate for transportation, so we’ve seen some smaller airlines, like Jet2, drop the requirement to wear a face mask while flying. However, we haven’t yet seen a global airline do this yet, so British Airways will be the first.

This will come just two days before the UK lifts all coronavirus-related travel restrictions. With this, the UK will no longer require travelers to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) when traveling to the UK.

British Airways will no longer require passengers to wear face masks

It’s time for this to become the norm

Admittedly the concept of airlines ending face mask requirements is pretty complex:

  • In many cases you have government mandates around face masks, so airlines don’t have much of a choice
  • People have differing views on how necessary masks are when vaccines are available on a widespread basis; some people would of course welcome face mask requirements being eliminated, while others would be extremely uncomfortable
  • Then there’s the general challenge of consistency — some destinations will likely require masks for years to come, so it’s complicated for airlines to require masks on some flights but not others, require them during some phases of flight but not others, etc.

Personally I’m thrilled to see British Airways lifting the requirement to wear masks, and I say that as someone who is boosted and has been happy to wear masks for the past two years. Heck, in some situations I might even continue to wear masks voluntarily, since I’ve loved how I’ve barely had a cold in the past two years.

But as far as I’m concerned, it’s time to live with coronavirus — we have widespread vaccines and other treatments to reduce the fatality of coronavirus. I plan to continue to take reasonable precautions (like testing), especially as I have vulnerable people in my life.

In most places in the United States, bars are open with no mask requirements, with significantly worse ventilation than you’ll find on planes. Of course people who want to wear masks on planes can continue to do so. And while masks are also about protecting others, wearing a KN95 also provides you with quite a bit of protection.

Here’s to hoping that the US federal transportation mask mandate extension through April 18 is the last one that we see.

I hope other airlines follow British Airways’ lead

Bottom line

British Airways is expected to lift its mask requirement as of Wednesday, March 16, 2022. Masks will still be required on some flights based on rules at the destination, but it will no longer be a requirement in general. Over two years into the pandemic, I consider this to be welcome news.

What do you make of British Airways lifting mask requirements?

(Tip of the hat to Paddle Your Own Kanoo)

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