Most major U.S. airlines now require passengers to wear face masks

I love flying, but I wouldn’t get on a plane any time soon unless I really had to and if I knew the flight was going to be empty. To do that, I’d have to buy a ticket at the very last minute by checking flight loads, and even then there’d be no guarantees as the airline could still cancel the flight.

New numbers show that this week planes are going out much fuller than they were in March and early April. There are two main reasons for this: The airlines have significantly reduced the number flights they’re operating, and (slightly) more people are flying. For example, on Sunday, April 12, only 90,510 travelers went through TSA checkpoints nationwide. However, yesterday (Sunday, May 3), the number was 170,254. Keep in mind that both of these numbers are really low; on May 3 of last year, 2,512,598 individuals were screened at TSA security checkpoints across the country. And yes, all these numbers include airport workers and airline crew.

If I did have to fly soon, I would also be sure to wear a face mask and bring plenty of hand sanitizer. Believe it or not, the major U.S. airlines have not required that passengers wear face masks on flights so far. That, too, is changing. In fact, most major airlines are now requiring face masks for both passengers and crew. I think that had to happen. The new rules below, which all go into effect in the next two weeks, now keep with these CDC guidelines:

“CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

Here’s the list of major U.S. airlines with updated face mask rules (note that more information on each airline’s policy and larger approach to safety is available at the links below):

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air: starting May 11

The new rules, from the source
“To align with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations and to keep employees and guests safe, face masks will be mandatory for guests starting May 11 and for Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air employees who cannot maintain six feet of social distance from guests or co-workers, starting May 4. This includes pilots, flight attendants and customer service agents.”

Will face masks be provided?
“Guests will be expected to bring their own mask and will be required to wear it throughout the airport and flight experience. Additional supplies will be available for anyone who forgets a face mask.”

American Airlines: starting May 11

The new rules, from the source
“American Airlines will soon require all customers traveling to wear a face covering (or mask) while on board the aircraft starting May 11. This new requirement is part of the airline’s ongoing commitment to prioritizing customer and team member well-being in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic…Very young passengers and those with conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering will be exempt from the requirement.”

Will face masks be provided?
“We ask customers to bring their own masks or face coverings they’re comfortable with when they travel. American is working to procure face masks and hand sanitizer as a supplement,” said Kurt Stache, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience.

Delta Air Lines: starting May 4

The new rules, from the source
“Face coverings will be required starting in the check-in lobby and across Delta touchpoints including Delta Sky Clubs, boarding gate areas, jet bridges and on board the aircraft for the duration of the flight – except during meal service. Their use is also strongly encouraged in high-traffic areas including security lines and restrooms. People unable to keep a face covering in place, including children, are exempt.”

Will face masks be provided?
“And 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.”

Frontier Airlines: starting May 8

The new rules, from the source
“Frontier Airlines will begin requiring that passengers wear a face covering over their nose and mouth at the airline’s ticket counters, gate areas and onboard Frontier aircraft, effective May 8, 2020. Face coverings have been required for Frontier flight crews since April 13…Very young children, for whom a face covering is inadvisable, will be exempt from the policy.”

Will face masks be provided?
No word yet.

Hawaiian Airlines: starting May 8

The new rules, from the source
“Starting May 8, 2020, our guests will need to wear a face mask or covering that effectively covers the mouth and nose, except for young children who are unable to keep a face covering on or guests with a medical condition or disability preventing its use. This new requirement will apply from check-in at the airport to deplaning at the destination..”

Will face masks be provided?
“…and disposable face masks will be available at our check-in counters and gates for guests who may not have a face covering.”

JetBlue: starting May 4

The new rules, from the source
“Starting May 4, all customers must wear face coverings (including scarves, bandanas or other forms of face protection) during travel. This includes during check-in, boarding, in flight, and deplaning. Young children who are not able to maintain a face covering on their own are exempt from this policy.”

Will face masks be provided?
No word yet.

Southwest Airlines: starting May 11

The new rules, from the source
“Face coverings or masks will be required for Customers starting May 11.”

Will face masks be provided?
“If you forget your mask at home, one will be available for you.”

United Airlines: starting May 4

The new rules, from the source
“In coordination with the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) — we were the first major U.S. carrier to require that all flight attendants wear a facial covering to help protect themselves and customers on board our aircraft. Effective May 4 we will expand that mandate to include all of our employees on board — including front-line workers like pilots, customer service agents and ramp workers when on board an aircraft, along with any other United employees traveling. We will also make face coverings mandatory for all travelers…”

Will face masks be provided?
“…and will be providing them for free to our customers starting May 4.”


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3 Comments On "Most Major U.S. Airlines Now Require Passengers to Wear Face Masks"
  1. Barbara Beauchemin|

    Will the airlines let you bring hand sanitizer on the plane? It is flammable.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      They will! 12oz

  2. Leona|

    You seem to be omitting quite a few details of what airlines are actually doing to make passengers safe. Delta, for instance, is completely spraying and sanitizing every thing in their planes, no seating in the middle, loading from back to front, exiting front to back and only a few passengers at a time in order to keep distancing, to mention only a few. More precautions are added daily. With all they are doing for public safety and the fact that the majority of people have actually learned to wash their hands after using the restrooms and use sanitizer, everything is far cleaner than ever before. Check in, Security and public areas are cleaned and sanitized in the airports. I would and have not hesitated to fly them during this time. With the rules changed for ticketing, you can’t beat the prices for booking now for future travel. People can check their airline website, see exactly what is done to protect them and make their own decisions on whether to fly or not.

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