United Will Place People Who Refuse to Wear a Mask on a No-fly List (Video)
Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Southwest Airlines are also reinforcing their mask policies.
United Airlines will temporarily ban passengers from flying if they refuse to wear a mask on board as part of a new policy to reinforce the coronavirus-sparked rule.
The move comes as several other U.S. carriers have pledged to crack down on mask-wearing in the air, according to Airlines for America, or A4A, an organization that represents major airlines.
Starting June 18, United will place anyone who doesn’t comply with the airline’s mask policy on an internal travel restriction list. United started requiring employees to wear face masks while working on April 24 and expanded that to customers on May 4.
“Every reputable [health] institution says wearing a mask is one of the most effective things people can do to protect others from contracting COVID-19, especially in places like an aircraft where social distancing is a challenge,” United’s Chief Customer Officer, Toby Enqvist, said in a statement.
He added that while United has “been pleased that the overwhelming majority of passengers readily comply with our policy,” and that the new guidance “is an unmistakable signal that we’re prepared to take serious steps, if necessary, to protect our customers and crew.”
According to the United, anyone who is not wearing a mask on board (and who does not qualify for an exemption like a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a face covering) will be first asked to put one on. Flight attendants will also have masks on hand to provide if needed.
If a passenger continually refuses, they will be reported and undergo a formal review process to determine if they need to be banned. Anyone who is banned would not be able to fly for a “duration of time to be determined,” according to the airline.
In addition to masks, United is requiring all passengers to verify their health status during check-in, confirming they don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19 and haven’t had close contact with someone who does.
Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines have also pledged to impose consequences for not complying with their mask policies on board. Each airline will determine the exact repercussions.
“U.S. airlines are very serious about requiring face coverings on their flights. Carriers are stepping up enforcement of face coverings and implementing substantial consequences for those who do not comply with the rules,” A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio said in a statement. “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.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended people wear a face covering to prevent them from unintentionally spreading the coronavirus.