American Airlines to Require Passengers to Wear Face Masks on Flights (Video)

The airline joins JetBlue in the effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.

American Airlines announced Thursday it will require all passengers to wear protective face masks while flying to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

“This new requirement is part of the airline’s ongoing commitment to prioritizing customer and team member well-being in response to the coronavirus pandemic,” reps for the airline said in a statement, noting all passengers would have to wear the covering or mask starting on May 11.

American Airlines passengers wear face masks during coronavirus outbreak
Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via Getty Images

“The American Airlines team continues to prioritize the safety of our customers and team members, and requiring a face covering is one more way we can protect those on our aircraft,” Kurt Stache, senior vice president of customer experience, said in a statement. “Beginning May 1, we’re provisioning masks and sanitizing wipes for customers on select flights when they board. We will roll this out as quickly as possible and these kits will be widely available across our network in the coming weeks. In the meantime, customers should bring their own masks or face coverings.”

The airline pointed to the data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing the use of face coverings could slow the spread of the virus as the reason behind its decision. The only people not required to wear the face covering will be the “very young” and those with conditions that prevent them from wearing it. Flight attendants will also be required to wear masks.

“These changes continue to build on American’s commitment to customer and team member safety. American’s cleaning practices have always met or exceeded all guidelines set by the CDC,” reps for the airline explained. “All American Airlines mainline aircraft and most of its regional aircraft are equipped with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. In addition, the cabin air in all American aircraft is changed approximately 15 to 30 times per hour, or once every two to four minutes, similar to the standard for hospitals.”

American Airlines isn’t alone in this decision. On Tuesday, JetBlue announced a similar measure, requiring all passengers to wear face masks as of May 4.

“Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself — it’s about protecting those around you,” Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer of JetBlue, said in a press release. “This is the new flying etiquette.”

Updated by
Stacey Leasca
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Stacey Leasca is an award-winning journalist. Her photos, videos, and words have appeared in print or online for Travel + Leisure, Time, Los Angeles Times, Glamour, and many more. You'll usually find her in an airport. If you do see her there, please say hello.

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