American Airlines has toughen its face mask policy following the wake of new enforcement measures announced by Delta and United Airlines. American from July 29, will now require all passengers to wear a face mask or other suitable face covering from the point they enter their departure airport right up until they arrive at their final destination and leave the airport.
Medical reasons are no longer included as a possible exemption for not wearing a mask and passengers who can’t wear a mask are asked to stay at home. Passengers who are eating or drinking and for passengers under the age of two years old who don’t need to wear a mask or covering at all are the only ones exempted.
Chief customer officer Alison Taylor said: “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one of the best ways we can slow the spread of COVID-19 is to wear a face covering,” “Customers and team members have been clear that they feel more safe when everyone is wearing a face covering.”
“In light of this important feedback, we are expanding and enhancing our requirements onboard and at airports.”
The new rules came just hours after United announced its own plans to enforce the wearing of face masks from the moment a passenger enters the departure airport to when they exit their arrival airport. Passengers without a face mask will first be offered a complimentary mask to encourage compliance as part of the new policy that comes into effect on July 24.
Passengers who continue to flout the rules will then be offered a final warning ‘reminder card’. If that still doesn’t get the passenger to wear a mask they’ll then be denied boarding and banned from flying with United until at least the mandatory face mask rules remain in force.
Again, United is attempting to discourage passengers who claim they can’t wear a face-covering from flying at all but will allow eligible passengers to apply for pre-clearance either by contacting United before travel or on arrival at the airport. Delta has introduced a similar policy, requiring passengers who can’t wear a mask to undergo a video consultation with the airline’s doctor on arrival at the airport. The process can take up to an hour.
In June, major U.S. airlines strengthened mandatory face mask rules by threatening to ban passengers who refused to wear a mask. Yesterday, Delta chief executive Ed Bastian revealed the Atlanta-based airline had already added over 100 passengers to its ‘no-fly’ list because of face mask violations.
United has started to take the issue so seriously that it will terminate flight attendants and other employees who fail to wear a mask or don’t wear the mask properly. All three airlines have, however, failed to provide clear guidance on what masks are acceptable and how the mask should be worn – leading to some passengers using them as eye masks or “chin guards”.