United Airlines, in association with multiple other American airline carriers, is cracking down on passengers who refuse to wear facial coverings as part of a new initiative launched by Airlines for America, the industry trade organization that represents top US airlines.
Other airlines associated with this program include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Southwest Airlines, all of which will be issuing new enforcement protocols surrounding passengers wearing face masks aboard their flights.
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The carriers will be implementing policies by referencing the three following updates:
- Communications before boarding – Each airline will clearly outline its specific policy regarding facial coverings with passengers, which may require them to acknowledge particular measures during the check-in process.
- Communications onboard – Once aboard the aircraft, crew members will disclose details regarding the carrier’s specific face-covering policy, including potential consequences passengers could experience should they not adhere to them.
- Communicating consequences – The airlines will determine their own set of consequences for passengers who do not comply with its face-covering policy, which could include suspension of flying privileges on that specific carrier’s flights.
“US airlines are very serious about requiring face coverings on their flights,” Airlines for America 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.”
United Airlines has explicitly opted for the most drastic measure when it comes to enforcing its facial covering protocols. In a recent press release, the airline explained that starting June 18, all passengers who do not adhere to its policy while onboard their aircraft will be placed on a restricted travel list.
“Customers on this list will lose their travel privileges on United for a duration of time to be determined pending a comprehensive incident review,” the release describes.
United currently makes it compulsory for customers and staff to wear face masks for the duration of its flights, except when they are eating or drinking. This policy will remain in effect for at least 60 days, the release outlines.
Exceptions are made for individuals with existing medical conditions or a disability that hinders them from being able to wear a mask. Small children are also exempt.
“We have been requiring our customers to wear masks onboard United aircraft since May 4, and we have been pleased that the overwhelming majority of passengers readily comply with our policy,” United’s chief customer officer, Toby Enqvist, said in the release. “Today’s announcement is an unmistakable signal that we’re prepared to take serious steps, if necessary, to protect our customers and crew.”
With this updated protocol, if a cabin crew member observes or is told that a passenger on board that is not wearing an appropriate facial covering, they will instruct them that face coverings are required for everyone. They will also supply a mask if necessary.
However, should the passenger refuse to comply, crew members will continue to try to diffuse the situation and inform the passenger of the airline’s mandatory policy and provide them with an “In-Flight Mask policy reminder card.”
If they still do not agree to wear a mask, the crew member will file an incident report, which will lead to a formal review of the event.
Any decisions or actions surrounding the customer’s future flight privileges will take place once the flight has arrived at its destination and the security team has had a chance to investigate.
In addition to its mask-wearing requirement, United has implemented “dozens” of additional health and safety features to ensure that passengers and crew members are as safe as possible when travelling.
For more details surrounding these policies, visit the United website.