Passengers travelling through Canadian airports are required by law to wear facial coverings, including in-flight. Despite this measure airlines are still coming up with their own approach to handle policy violators.
WestJest announced multiple new health and safety updates on Friday, including a “zero tolerance mask policy” that will take effect on Sept. 1. Passengers who violate the rules could be denied travel and face a one-year ban from the airline and its affiliates.
The company also announced in a statement that they will now require the “mandatory input of all guests’ contact information at online and kiosk check-in,” to help with contact tracing in case someone on board the plane is travelling with COVID
But WestJet is not the only airline to take a stronger stance on face mask compliance, Air Canada also announced that they too will consider banning travellers who do not comply with the facial covering requirements.
“Customers travelling on Canadian aircraft are required by law to wear facial coverings for health and safety reasons,” the company said in a statement to CTV News. “Safeguarding our customers’ well-being is always our top priority. For this reason, we have a graded approach, up to and including travel bans, to promote compliance with facial covering requirements, just as we do with all safety requirements on board our aircraft.”
The changes come as members of the anti-mask movement become more vocal. In a statement to CTV News, Air Canada confirmed that “there have been a small number of incidents where customers have been sanctioned for non-compliance. Overall, however, our customers are generally respectful of each other and understand the importance of wearing facial coverings for their own protection.”
According to data provided by the federal government, WestJet has reported having 10 cases of coronavirus on domestic flights and two on international flights in the last 14 days. Air Canada reported 19 cases on domestic flights and 12 on international flights in the last 14 days.
A federal travel order has been in place since April mandating anyone travelling through an airport or on an airplane to wear a mask. Passengers with medical issues that prevent them from wearing a face covering are asked to provide a medical certificate as proof.
More airlines are expected to follow suit in implementing harsher penalties for rule breakers. United and American Airlines have both threatened to ban customers for continued non-compliance with the face mask regulation.
“We require face coverings for any travelers over the age of 2 – no exemptions,” a spokesperson for American Airlines said in a statement to CTV News. The company says customers who are unwilling to comply with the face covering requirement may be barred from future travel.
Meanwhile, Delta Airlines said it has added about 240 passengers to its no-fly list over the refusal to wear face coverings.