UPDATE, May 1, 2020: If you plan on flying during the coronavirus pandemic, you’ll probably need a face mask. On Thursday, American Airlines, Delta, and Frontier announced that they will require passengers to wear face coverings. Their announcements come two days after JetBlue became the first major U.S. airline to introduce this new policy.
Starting May 11, American Airlines passengers will have to bring their own face coverings or masks and wear them while on board the aircraft. In a press release, American said it also plans to distribute face masks and hand sanitizer as a supplement.
Delta passengers will be required to wear face coverings beginning May 4. Customers will have to wear them in the check-in lobby, Delta Sky Clubs, boarding gate areas, jet bridges and on board the aircraft. Similarly, Frontier Airlines customers will have to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth at ticket counters, gate areas, and onboard.
All of the airlines use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on recommended face coverings.
April 28, 2020: Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation to wear face coverings in public settings, JetBlue announced that it will require all passengers to wear face masks starting May 4. The airline's crewmembers are already required to wear face coverings during work.
The new policy requires passengers to wear face coverings over their mouths and noses throughout their entire journey. This means customers will have to wear masks during check-in, boarding, during the flight, and while deplaning. Only small children who can't wear a face covering will be exempt from the policy.
So what passes as an acceptable face covering? JetBlue uses CDC guidance to define a suitable face covering as "an item of cloth that should fit snugly against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, include multiple layers of fabric and allow for unrestricted breathing." It should also be able to be washed and machine dried without being damaged or changing shape.
“Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself; it’s about protecting those around you,” JetBlue president and chief operating officer Joanna Geraghty said in a press release. “This is the new flying etiquette. Onboard, cabin air is well circulated and cleaned through filters every few minutes but this is a shared space where we have to be considerate of others. We are also asking our customers to follow these CDC guidelines in the airport as well.”
While JetBlue will be the first major U.S. airline to require flyers to wear face coverings, on Monday, American Airlines announced that it would start giving face masks to passengers in early May.
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