Tuesday’s announcement of a Tampa judge striking down the federal mask mandate two weeks earlier than expected, really threw everyone off guard. You can tell that some airlines were already working on their action plan for May 3, which was supposed to be the end of the mask mandate.

Some airlines had press releases ready to go and they used them. Every U.S. airline now makes face masks optional, as well as ride shares and most trains. Here’s the list and how they announced it on Twitter.

However, even though it might feel like we’re done with COVID-19, it’s obvious COVID isn’t done with us as cases are on the rise and experts predict more deadlier variants could be in the pipeline.

RELATED: Traveling? Doctor Recommends These Face Masks for Better Protection

Only time will tell but if you don’t want to take any chances, then I would follow the advice of reputable doctors.

By now, we all know that the best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated, boosted, wear a solid mask, wash your hands and wipe down high-touch areas.

One highly-respected doctor I follow on Twitter is Dr. Eric Topol, who is an American cardiologist, scientist and the founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California. Yesterday, he tweeted a photo of himself from an airport, stating: “At the airport, with no interest for a visit with BA.2 or serving as an asymptomatic vector. Tight fit KN 94 underneath.”

One thing I learned from that tweet is not to let your guard down, even if some of your fellow passengers will. I also figured that if he’s double masking, then I may too.

During the pandemic, I took my own precautions as I started flying with a portable HEPA filter and on my last two flights (LAX-HNL on United $ HNL-LAX on Hawaiian), I put it on my two-year old’s seat since she’s unvaccinated. We also didn’t wear our masks the whole flight because we were in a two-row cabin and the row in front of us was empty.

I will definitely continue to wear my mask when traveling and especially on crowded public transportation or in a store where others are wearing one. I’m a team player so if someone is immunocompromised, I don’t want to risk giving them anything.

RELATED: Can You Really Reuse Your N95 and KN95 Face Masks?

If you are immunocompromised or really worried about being near infected passengers, I would also look into booking a first class ticket so you have fewer people around you. I know what you’re thinking: That it costs a lot more money but thanks to fewer business travelers flying these days, that’s not always the case. In fact, sometimes premium seats can be cheaper than coach. It’s not common but it happens so always check the price of a first class ticket and inquire about the cost of an upgrade since it might not be much more money (especially when you factor in baggage, seat assignments and food. And if you have miles and points, use them.

As for when I’m traveling to and from the airports in either an Uber/Lyft or a Blacklane, I’m comfortable not wearing a mask as long as the windows are rolled down to get fresh air. If it’s raining, I will wear my mask and bust out my portable air filter just as I have in the past.

But hopefully with the mask mandate ending (I really don’t see it being re-instated at this point), let’s hope people will be less unruly on planes. There were close to 6,000 such incidents last year and 72% of them were face mask-related

If your seatmate is wearing a mask and tells you they are immunocompromised, then be a good human and a team player and put one on as well.

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6 Comments On "Worried About Flying and Being Surrounded by Unmasked Passengers? Here’s How to Protect Yourself"
  1. Anonymous|

    The judge of Florida has no business of interfering with the airline industry .Every state should make they own rules. And is she to do that. She needs to make rules just for florida. We need tickets to get on airlines, if not anyone could get on a plane . This judge needs to mind her own business and leave the airline industry alone.This is mask mandate.

  2. David R. Miller|

    Annonmous – your response has to be one of the most ignorant postings I have ever had the displeasure to read.

  3. Marlin Yoder|

    I don’t think the judge stopped any airlines from requiring masks, just said the CDC had no authority to require them. I for one don’t want to wear one and won’t, I do not let fear control my life, but you may if you enjoy it.

  4. Chrisanna Johnson|

    It was announced Thursday the Justice Dept is going to challenge the FL federal judge’s ruling.
    It was really a shoddy ruling brief & rationale from a public health science perspective (particularly her extremely narrow definition of ‘sanitize’ – to ‘clean’ is not the only function of sanitization in public health or medicine) as well as legal precedent all the way to the Supreme Court.
    You likely may already be aware but in case you aren’t… I’m cautiously optimistic.

  5. Joseph Panozzo|

    Call me a grumpy old man, but I believe face masks should be mandatory in all public places until the pandemic is declared officially over by medical experts. I am very uncomfortable around maskless people. I’m sorry if many will disagree with my humble opinion, but I want to continue to live a little longer as a grumpy old man without catching COVID 19 from someone who refuses to mask up. I want to protect myself and protect others, even if others don’t agree with my science based reasoning.
    Stay safe and stay well Johnny and family. Thank you for sharing your insightful posts.

  6. Iris|

    I’m with Joseph, I want to protect my old bitchy self and protect those other uncaring people.

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