Matt Perez Forbes Staff


Passengers on major U.S. airlines may be temporarily banned from future flights if they’re not compliant with face mask policies under a tougher industry stance announced Monday by Airlines for America, a trade organization that represents the country’s leading carriers.


The new policy, which is meant to remain in place throughout the coronavirus pandemic, calls for airlines to inform passengers about their face mask policies during the check-in process and to remind passengers of them while onboard, with the individual airlines deciding on consequences for noncompliance, up to suspension of services for future flights.

While some airliners require a mask to board a flight, passengers might then remove their face covering mid flight.

The trade group represents Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.

United said in a statement that any passengers not complying with its mandatory policy, which requires a face mask onboard for everyone medically able, will be placed on an “internal travel restriction list” and will be banned from flying on United for a period of time be determined following a review of the incident.

According to its new policy, United flight attendants will remind noncompliant passengers of the airliner’s rules and offer a face mask, and if refused, the flight attendant will attempt to de-escalate before filing a report that will initiate a formal review process.

Air circulation and filtration on flights mitigates the spread of viruses but the inability to properly social distance on a plane that’s not mostly empty increases risk of exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hence the need for more stringent face mask requirements.


Demand for air travel has ticked up but is still down substantially year-over-year. United was forced to cut 90% of its flight schedule in May, but improved to an 85% decrease in June and a planned 75% cut in July. Airlines are taking new precautions to assuage customer fears, like Delta blocking middle seats to increase social distancing. On Monday, it was announced that United would mortgage its frequent flyer program for a $5 billion loan. It also expects a federal loan of $4.5 billion on top of that. The U.S. leads all other countries in confirmed cases of the coronavirus and reported deaths with 2,110,791 and 116,090, respectively.

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