US airlines get serious about face mask requirements, add 'appropriate consequences' for those who disobey

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Seven U.S. airlines will begin more serious enforcement of their rules requiring passengers to wear face masks while traveling amid the coronavirus pandemic, a major trade union said.

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Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines will all be adopting three new steps to promote and emphasize the importance of face masks while in transit, Airlines for America (A4A) announced on Monday.

Seven U.S. airlines will begin to more seriously enforce the rules requiring passengers to wear face masks while traveling amid the coronavirus pandemic, a major trade union said.

Seven U.S. airlines will begin to more seriously enforce the rules requiring passengers to wear face masks while traveling amid the coronavirus pandemic, a major trade union said. (iStock)

All seven carriers will implement enhanced “preflight communications,” “onboard announcements” and more serious “consequences for noncompliance,” A4A said.

To improve preflight communications, each carrier will clearly explain their respective face-covering policy to customers; passengers may also have to acknowledge that airline’s specific rules while checking in.

Onboard, crew members will clarify specific details regarding the airline’s policy on face coverings and expound the consequences people may face for violating these rules.

Finally, for those passengers who refuse to comply, each airline will determine “appropriate consequences” in response, as far as the suspension of flying with that airline. For example, United Airlines stated on Monday that "any passenger that does not comply when onboard a United flight will be placed on an internal travel restriction list."

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“U.S. airlines are very serious about requiring face coverings on their flights," said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio said of the news. "Carriers are stepping up enforcement of face coverings and implementing substantial consequences for those who do not comply with the rules."

“Face coverings are one of several public health measures recommended by the CDC as an important layer of protection for passengers and customer-facing employees," he added.

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Moving forward, the stricter rules for face masks are expected to be enforced throughout the ongoing outbreak, the trade group said.