Sam Chui wearing a mask
united states airline face covering

US Airlines Tell Flight Crews Not to Enforce Mask Rules

The three largest carriers in the United States, American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines, have instructed flight attendants not to force passengers to comply with their policies requiring face coverings, just encourage them to do so.


Ground staff from American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines are instructed on how to deal with anyone not wearing a face covering.

However, in internal reports seen by Reuters, flight crews for American Airlines were encouraged to be lenient and to not strictly enforce the policy.

“Once on board and off the gate, the face covering policy becomes more lenient. The flight attendant’s role is informational, not enforcement, with respect to the face covering policy,”

American Airlines internal statement to pilots, provided by Reuters

American Airlines pilots were also told that non-compliant passengers are “NOT considered disruptive enough to trigger a Threat Level 1 response”.

This refers to a situation in which a captain can divert the aircraft, in the event of a passenger behaving in a disruptive manner.

Future Travel Post COVID-19

Flight Attendants

American Airlines has instructed flight attendants to take a hands-off approach with face-coverings, according to an internal airline statement.

“If the customer chooses not to comply for other reasons, please encourage them to comply, but do not escalate further. Likewise, if a customer is frustrated by another customer’s lack of face covering, please use situational awareness to de-escalate the situation,”

American Airlines internal statement to flight attendants, provided by AA to Reuters

A United Airlines spokeswoman confirmed to Reuters that their airline operates on similar policies. United says that any passengers choosing to not wear a face-covering would be dealt with at the gate.

Reuters was also told that United flight attendants had been counselled to use their “de-escalation skills” on the aircraft and to re-seat any passengers as needed.

Delta also confirmed a similar policy.

American Airlines B767-300

Conflicting Opinions

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has voiced support for face-covering restrictions, labelling the move a “critical part of…biosecurity” when demand for air travel returns.

Despite individual airlines implementing face-covering restrictions, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has repeatedly refused to mandate the requirement.

“The FAA is proactively taking steps to help address the widespread economic and health effects that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the aviation industry,”

FAA Statement, provided to Reuters

What are your thoughts on the issue? Let us know in the comments.

Article Source: Reuters