Travelers who were once banned by major U.S. airlines for violating the federal mask mandate may soon be allowed to fly again.
Four major U.S. airlines — Delta, United, American and Alaska Airlines — have announced they’re now allowing some passengers who were once banned from flying on their planes due to mask violations to travel onboard.
This move comes after a federal judge in Florida on Monday ruled against the Biden administration’s mandatory mask mandate for passengers on planes and other forms of public transportation, airlines soon began lifting their mask policies for travelers.
The cases will be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the company.
Here’s a rundown on where the airlines stand:
Travelers who were banned for mask non-compliance will be allowed to purchase tickets and fly with the airline, a company spokesperson told NPR.
However, the airline emphasized that some guests whose behavior was “particularly egregious” will remain banned from flying or purchasing tickets.
Over the past two years, the company reported that more than 1,700 guests were banned for failing to comply with the federal mask policy.
American said passengers who were added to the company’s no-fly list as a result of the mask non-compliance will be allowed to fly with American “at some point in time.”
“In cases where an incident may have started with face mask non-compliance and escalated into anything involving something more serious, certainly assault or an assault on one of our team members or customers, those passengers are going to remain on our permanent internal refuse list and will never be allowed to travel with us again,” said Nate Gatten, the airline’s Chief Corporate and Government Affairs Officer during a weekly earnings call.
Delta Air Lines
Delta announced Wednesday it would reinstate flight privileges for travelers who were banned for violating the mask mandate.
“With masks now optional, Delta will restore flight privileges for customers on the mask non-compliance no-fly list only after each case is reviewed and each customer demonstrates an understanding of their expected behavior when flying with us,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to NPR.
The Atlanta-based airline says that any further disregard for the new policies in place will result in placement on its permanent no-fly list.
“Customers who demonstrated ‘egregious behavior’ and are already on the permanent no-fly list remain barred from flying with Delta,” the company said.
Southwest did not go into detail about how many people it banned for mask non-compliance, citing “security protocols.”
However, the airline indicated that the travelers on the list were barred for disruptive behavior — and their status has not changed as of Thursday.
On a case-by-case basis, United said it will allow some customers who were previously banned for failing to comply with the mask mandate to fly with United again — after establishing their commitment to follow the instructions of its crews and staff onboard.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday that its “zero-tolerance” policy against unruly passengers will now be permanent.
“Behaving dangerously on a plane will cost you; that’s a promise,” said Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen in a news release. “Unsafe behavior simply does not fly and keeping our zero-tolerance policy will help us continue making progress to prevent and punish this behavior.”
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