Airline travel has seen a drastic change since the spread of COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, across the U.S. and the globe. Face mask requirements are the latest change—even though the Trump administration has yet to mandate face masks be worn outside, leaving it up to states to make the decisions despite warnings from the CDC. Due to a recent spike in cases in numerous cities, major U.S airlines are enforcing stricter policies for passengers to board their aircraft; now passengers can potentially get banned for life if they don’t follow instructions.
American Airlines was one of the first airlines in early June to extend its face mask on-board the aircraft rule to the boarding gate and announcing that it would deny entry to passengers who didn’t follow the order. Just this week, American and Southwest Airlines went even further and announced that they would be unable to transport anyone over the age of 2 who didn’t comply with wearing a face mask, including those with medical conditions.
“If a customer is unable to wear a face-covering or mask for any reason, Southwest regrets that we will be unable to transport the individual,” Dallas-based Southwest Airlines said in statement according to the Dallas News. “In those cases, we hope the customer will allow us to welcome them onboard in the future, if public health guidance, or other safety-related circumstances, regarding face coverings changes.”
United Airlines has also tightened restrictions, stating that it would ban all passengers who refused to wear a mask, effectively losing all travel privileges with the airline. “The most important thing any of us can do to slow the spread of the coronavirus is simply wear a mask when we’re around other people,” said United Airlines Chief Executive Scott Kirby, according to Forbes.
“Wearing a mask is a simple and effective action that each and every one of us can—and should—do when they are in close contact with others. Do it for your family. Do it for your country. Do it for the countless men and women who have given their time and energy to protect the rest of us. Do it for the over half a million people worldwide, including more than 140,000 Americans, who have tragically lost their lives as a result of this terrible virus,” pleaded Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, in a video for CNN Business.
“We all have a role to play, and we can all make a difference. So please, wear a mask—we are all depending on you.”