Frontier Airlines becomes latest carrier to require passengers wear face coverings

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Frontier Airlines is now the second U.S. carrier to require all passengers to wear face masks during flights, following JetBlue’s announcement earlier this week.

Frontier had already mandated that all in-flight crew members wear masks as of April 13, in response to the ongoing coronavirus health crisis. Shortly afterward, the carrier announced that all employees, “regardless of role,” would need to wear masks, too.

On Thursday, the carrier extended this requirement to passengers, effective May 8.

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“We want our passengers to feel comfortable when flying with us by protecting themselves and their fellow travelers as we all navigate the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Barry Biffle, the CEO of Frontier Airlines, in a press release issued Thursday. “This new measure is aligned with CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations and those of many municipalities within the U.S. that include wearing a face covering when out in public.”

“This new measure is aligned with CDC recommendations and those of many municipalities within the U.S. that include wearing a face covering when out in public," said Barry Biffle, the CEO of Frontier, in a press release announcing the new requirement.

“This new measure is aligned with CDC recommendations and those of many municipalities within the U.S. that include wearing a face covering when out in public," said Barry Biffle, the CEO of Frontier, in a press release announcing the new requirement. (iStock)

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Frontier said the only passengers exempt from wearing face coverings would be “very young children,” but did not share a specific age.

The carrier's new rule will be explained to passengers via the website, during any check-in procedures, and at the airport itself, the airline said.

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On April 27, JetBlue became the first U.S. carrier to mandate that all passengers wear face masks throughout the entire flight — from check-in through deplaning — starting on May 4.

“This is the new flying etiquette.” JetBlue President and COO Joanna Geraghty said in the announcement. “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.”

A growing number of major U.S. carriers have mandated that their flight attendants wear protective masks during their flights, with many airlines also urging passengers to don protective face coverings as well.

A growing number of major U.S. carriers have mandated that their flight attendants wear protective masks during their flights, with many airlines also urging passengers to don protective face coverings as well. (iStock)

Most other major U.S. carriers have announced that flight attendants, at the very least, are now mandated to wear face coverings. Some, such as American and United, have said they will soon be making masks available to passengers, though it’s not currently a requirement for guests to wear masks on either airline.

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The CDC, meanwhile, already recommends that everyone wear a “cloth face covering” in community settings, “including during travel if they must travel.” Unions representing flight attendants and pilots are also championing the idea of requiring masks for everyone onboard, but there is no current mandate from the Federal Aviation Administration for such measures as of yet.