Alitalia Requiring Passengers To Wear Face Masks

Filed Under: Alitalia

At this point Italy is among the hardest hit by coronavirus, and not surprisingly, this has had a huge impact on aviation there. While Air Italy ceased operations in early February (seemingly unrelated to the coronavirus situation), Alitalia continues to be in business, though is operating a reduced schedule.

Alitalia has canceled most flights

Alitalia has hugely cut back their route network, as you’d expect. The airline has canceled almost all international flights out of Milan, and has also greatly scaled back their Rome route network. The situation has only gotten worse with the new US travel ban on Europe, where we’ll likely see the airline completely cut US flights.

Alitalia’s passenger face mask policy

In light of the severity of the situation in Italy, Alitalia is now requiring passengers to wear protective breathing masks onboard.

We’ve seen this trend among airline crews for a while — several weeks ago select airline crews started having the option of wearing face masks, and in the meantime many airline crews are required to wear face masks. To now see this requirement spread to passengers is interesting.

With Alitalia’s policy:

  • Passengers are required to bring their own masks
  • Before boarding, passengers will be required to put their masks on
  • The exception is if there are not a lot of people on plane; passengers don’t have to wear face masks if they can keep one meter of distance between them and other passengers
  • Alitalia can deny boarding to passengers who are not in possession of a mask
  • Alitalia recommends that passengers wear a protective mask also while at the airport, and during boarding and disembarking the aircraft

Bottom line

As far as I know, Alitalia is the first airline to require passengers to wear face masks. The way the policy is structured is odd, though — it’s required, unless the flight isn’t very full, in which case it’s not required.

There’s obviously widespread debate about the merit of wearing masks, both in terms of whether they actually help, and also in terms of not using them so that limited supplies can be used my medical staff and those who really need them. At the same time, given the dire situation in Italy, it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable policy.

I wonder if we’ll see any other airlines require passengers to wear face masks…

  1. Nevermind the masks. I am surprised that Alitalia planes are still flying given the circumstance. I can’t believe that planes are even half full.

  2. And then if passengers want to eat or drink are prohibited from doing so ?
    They won’t serve any food or beverages ? Furthermore the majority of people won’t have face masks nor can they buy them

  3. @phil enough with thIs kind regards f negativity as this has affected every airline and there’s a risk of literally millions of people being affected by job losses Not only airline staff , but all the contractors and ancillary employees in addition to hotel , restaurant and other workers

  4. @christian it also reduces the risk for yourself because wearing a facemask prevents you from touching your mouth area.

  5. Airlines in mainland China are already doing this since January and nobody would even be allowed to enter an airport in China without a face mask.

  6. LOL, they should have ceased operations a couple weeks ago! every country should shut its borders for the next couple weeks.

  7. For the record, I have been travelling to and within Italy for decades. I avoided AZ flights within Italy when their narrow body fleet was old, now I fly them. I have always found AZ employees to be super competent and reacting correctly and seriously in all situations. There are some people that report that masks do not help, I have not heard of them harming. The staff and fellow passengers deserve any edge they can get to preserve their health.

  8. Alitalia is probably the only airline, that is profiting from groundings due to coronavirus at they are having bigger losses when they fly.

  9. @Nicola

    So in effect, the mask requirement won’t have any real consequences because everyone will maintain 1 meter distance anwyay.

  10. It’s not the worst idea in the world – assume everyone has it. Almost everyone in Italy does or will have it, since they were all stupid and ignored the suggestions to socially distance.

  11. @tcATL I can’t possibly imagine the lack of brain that some people have after reading your stupid comment.

    Did you actually follow what has happened? Do you actually know what has happened in Italy? Do you know that Italy so far is the country that has the highest number of swab tests performed? Germany is expecting (by the Chancellor words) to have over 70% of the population affected. UK 60%. Contrary to Italy they won’t test unless synthoms shows so it is only an estimated approximation. In Spain they had over 1500 new cases in one single day.

    Yes Italy had some stupid morons who did not follow the instructions from the authorities and also didn’t take some common sense precautions. But do you really think it’s the only country with such people? I am Italian and I lived outside Italy for over 25 years and trust me, I don’t know where you come from but I am very much sure your mates are no better. Otherwise explain to me why in Korea they had such an outbreak as well. Or in Iran where the government has little or no clue of the real situation. I have no words for people like you and for comments like yours.

  12. Ohhh….Another business decides to implement changes based on hysteria. Yes, wearing an appropriately fitting mask, if infected, or in close proximity to those infected is recommended; however, general public use is not. Even in high risk areas.

    The recommendation above comes from reliable sources who have done the testing to determine the best course of action. Lets, not debate the science, as so many like to do here in ‘Merica, but we can debate the application of the information to aircraft.

    My opinion is that the airlines new rule is not helpful and may be harmful. Here’s why:

    Masks must be properly worn to be beneficial. Have you seen the videos of people applying the oxygen masks in depressurized aircraft? Exactly, most people are not very bright and will wear the mask incorrectly; thus, negating any possible benefit.

    One of the primary infection control measures for this virus is avoiding touching your mouth, nose, and face. It takes activity which results in the majority of transmission of the virus…touching the mouth and nose to apply a mask. Guess what also happens? Everyone I see with these masks on are constantly messing with them! For this reason, I venture to guess that deploying them this way can result in an increased risk of transmission.

    Finally, these masks make people feel safe, which results in more risk taking activity and probably would also increase the risk of transmission.

  13. Vietnam Airlines has started the same since this weekend. If you don’t have a mask you will be denied boarding (luckily one of the airport restaurant staff in Phu Quoc was kind enough to give me one) as passengers were only made aware of this during checkin.

  14. I don’t get it. Why does no one understand and discuss that the airlines seat people together so darn close to one another?

    We have a catastrophic deadly virus around the world with many, many cases contracted from travel, and yet no one talks about the airlines waking up and making a major change to protect passengers by “social distancing.”

    They send emails trying to reassure you their cleaning better. They mean that they’re cleaning…finally! Their brag about having HEPA filters but what good are they when someone’s coughing 12 inches from you?

    The Coronavirus will eventually come under control. The airlines will receive a massive bail out from the government, despite all their excess fees for this, that and the other. And, the airlines will go on as before with people breathing down each other’s throats and passengers having to stuff their dirty Kleenex in the magazine netting.

    No one, no airline, no government, nor the FAA address the filthy, inhumane travel conditions.

  15. And, entirely predictably, the Italian government has just announced the nationalisation of Alitalia, stressing the importance of having a “national flag carrier”, and how this would provide more certainty that Italian people could easily be flown home in times of crisis. Apparently they’re chucking Euro600m at it.

    Any excuse.

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