Why Doesn’t Allegiant Air Require Face Masks?

Filed Under: Allegiant Air

Update: Allegiant Air will require customers to wear face masks as of July 2, 2020.

Wearing face coverings on planes has become a shockingly controversial topic. At this point, most US airlines require passengers to wear face masks, and some have even promised to step up enforcement.

What some people don’t realize is that there’s one major US airline that doesn’t require face masks to be worn.

Allegiant Air’s face mask policy

Ultra-low-cost carrier Allegiant Air doesn’t require passengers to wear face masks. To my knowledge, there’s no other major US airline with such a policy.

Allegiant has a webpage titled “Going the Distance for Health and Safety,” which describes all the initiatives the airline is taking. In some ways, Allegiant is more progressive than other airlines, as each passenger gets a complimentary health and safety kit with a face mask, gloves, and two sanitizing wipes.

At the same time, the airline doesn’t require passengers to wear face masks. Heck, the above webpage doesn’t even encourage passengers to wear masks.

Ironically the airline makes the following claim:

We work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Word Health Organization (WHO) and other authorities and experts. Based on their direction, we ensure our actions not only follow current guidance, but exceed the recommended standards so you can fly with confidence.

The CDC does recommend that people should wear face masks in situations where social distancing isn’t possible, so I’m not sure how exactly Allegiant is exceeding recommended standards.

What’s Allegiant Air’s logic for not requiring masks?

I reached out to Allegiant Air to ask about the company’s logic for not making face masks mandatory, and here’s what I was told:

“We’re constantly evaluating our policies to ensure they best meet our customers’ needs. We strongly encourage passengers to wear face masks in all of our communications with them. We send reminder emails before their flights and make announcements at the gate and on board each flight. However, we find that most of our passengers have already adopted mask-wearing as a standard practice. We’ve also heard from customers with asthma and other health conditions who say they can’t wear masks. We want to ensure our policies accommodate them, as well.

As an extra precaution, we provide each passenger with a free health and safety kit as they board their flights. The kits include a mask, gloves and sanitizing wipes. Passengers tend to already have their own wipes and masks but they appreciate the extra supplies we provide.”

Is there an ulterior motive to Allegiant Air’s policy?

In some way, I respect the fact that Allegiant Air is doing a better job of managing expectations than other airlines. Other airlines “require” face masks, but face mask usage isn’t as common or consistent as you’d hope, as I recently experienced firsthand.

Meanwhile, if you fly Allegiant, you should have no expectations that someone seated next to you is wearing a face mask, because there’s no requirement to do so. Then you also won’t be disappointed.

Is Allegiant Air’s policy that straightforward, though, or does the airline have an ulterior motive? I’ve been in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, the past couple of days, and have been in complete disbelief about how coronavirus is viewed here. I’ll save that for another post, but simply put, a vast majority of people don’t wear masks here.

When you look at the markets Allegiant Air serves, I can see how for some people this policy may actually be a selling point.

To the anti-mask crowd: vote with your wallet

Flying Allegiant Air seems like the perfect solution for the anti-face mask crowd:

  • You can support an airline that doesn’t require face masks
  • You can fly with like-minded people

That seems like a much better option than giving your money to a greedy company that’s infringing on your personal liberties, no? 😉

While Allegiant obviously has a slightly different route network than other major airlines, odds are decent that they at least fly somewhat close to where you may need to go within the US, even if a bit of extra driving is needed.

Bottom line

Allegiant is the only major US airline to not require passengers to wear face masks. The airline does offer face masks and gloves to passengers, but there’s no requirement to wear them.

The airline notes that passengers are “encouraged” to wear masks, but because some passengers have health issues, the airline doesn’t want to make it mandatory.

I have a hard time believing that this isn’t a more deliberate move, though. With every other airline requiring masks, Allegiant is an outlier. I think the most likely explanation is that this is a reflection of some of the markets that Allegiant serves, and therefore the perception that many Allegiant passengers may have towards face masks.

What do you make of Allegiant Air’s decision to not require passengers to wear face masks?

  1. Given that mask wearing is somehow a partisan issue (such as the poll UMN did several weeks ago showing Dems were almost twice as likely to wear a mask when leaving the house), look at Allegiant’s main markets that passengers travel from (rather than to) and you’ll see there is a lot of red areas there.

    It’s likely not just lowering expectations but rather knowing that their target market largely does not want to wear one.

  2. Most of Alligents customers come from rural communities, on the right.

    Remember, the right does not believe in science, therefore Alligent is following its customers opinions.


  3. The level of political bigotry in the first 5 comments, is startling.

    Because people make a different decision than you all do, doesn’t make them bad people.
    They have different views, morals, they were raised in different environments that built their values based on their experiences.

    I can’t possibly understand how another human being, would look at another, turn their nose up to them and say ‘you’re a jerk’ – without having spoken a word to them.

    If everyone wants our country to do better (A more perfect nation) – how about asking questions, being curious, being level-headed, trying to understand.

    There is no need to resort to name calling and insults just because someone looks different, dresses different or makes choices you might not.

    It’s pure bigotry to say what you guys are saying about other people.

  4. Thankfully this is a great, tremendous news for non-Murican germaphobe like me. I think they’ll be making business to cater a great-base of anti-science/vaxxer MAGA super-spreader and keep these species out of my sight.

    Keep Muricaaah First for COVID-CFR.

  5. @George. “Because people make a different decision than you all do, doesn’t make them bad people.” Yes, it does. The time for being polite is over.

  6. To George:

    You say you can’t possibly understand … let’s say it another way: if a stranger spits on you, you KNOW they are a jerk without hearing a single word. Don’t you?

    I’m trained as a scientist, and the evidence is clear: when someone breathes nearby/indoors without a mask, the result is the same … they are doing something careless that could KILL me, or someone I contact. That is beyond insensitive. If a death could be traced beyopnd a reasonable doubt to that contact, it would be manslaughter.

  7. @George – not wearing a mask is selfish and demonstrates a complete lack of care towards others, pure and simple. What is the big deal about wearing a mask? People that don’t wear masks are both acting contrary to CDC advice (an institution that has zero political bias or intent), and are infringing on the liberties of everyone else who doesn’t want to catch coronavirus.

    It’s not just “a different decision” as you put it. It’s one of “I feel fine and, while I’ve not been tested, I’m not willing to compromise what I want to do in any way to protect others, despite the country’s leading medical institutions telling me to wear a mask…. and despite the fact, that if I do have coronavirus, there’s a 1 in 20 chance that anyone impacted by my decision to not wear a face mask will die”

  8. Ben in 2016 you published results of a satisfaction survey with this airline’s pilots that has stuck with me “Almost half of the pilots said they will not allow their own families to fly on the aircraft. That is a stunning repudiation of the operations at Allegiant. I have never heard that before at a carrier. And that is not sour grapes. That is not to make publicity. That is a real fear that these pilots have. And the reason is because they’re on the front lines and observe day in and day out the way Allegiant skimps on maintenance, pushes their aircraft.” So regardless of the mask policy I would never fly that airline.

  9. Good for Allegiant, and good for their customers.

    Don’t like it? Don’t fly em. Very simple unless you are some kind of control freak.

  10. I actually think that this is quite shrewd for Allegiant. Although I don’t personally agree with their decision, they are on to something. Their CEO has commented that his customers “don’t give a damn about your airports nor do they give a damn about the interior of my airplanes” (SimpleFlying, Aug 29th 2019). Mr. Gallagher is actually playing this pretty well, Allegiant is only interested in their pocketbook and revenue, not maintenance of aircraft or other expenses. From a Skift article (May 12, 2020) – they are looking to buy used planes instead of fixing what they have – Allegiant is back to it’s cheap ways. Allegiant knows its customer base and will be somewhat successful because of it – they just want to get from point a to point b cheaply. I think this is actually a shrewd play by Allegiant, we will see if it actually works.

  11. I live in South Bend, Indiana a classic Allegiant origin market. We watch local TV sometimes (over our ‘rabbit’ ears) and keep seeing ads for Allegiant which are fairly simple that “We’re here and ready when your ready to travel again.” message. The commercial has what looks like stock footage of passengers (no masks or social distancing) on their planes except for one small clip with an FA wearing a face mask. They aren’t mentioning the complimentary health and safety kits or other types of hygiene in ads.

    Face mask usage here is abysmal – for example, we stopped to get frozen custard last night in the drive thruh at Ritter’s and the line of people for the pick-up window was jammed with minimal social distancing and no customers wearing masks. The employees inside were all wearing masks so we felt safe in our car going through the drive-thru. For all intensive purposes I’m still sheltering in place primarily because my neighbors don’t seem to have the decency to put masks on or social distance.

  12. @George – Lets be clear, the mask issue shows that these people *are* bad people. The whole point of wearing cloth masks is to protect others and create a herd of low transmissibility. When people choose not to participate it doesn’t harm them as much as the collective harm they impose on everyone around them. Now, I don’t wear a mask when I’m outside walking the dogs, but when I see people in the grocery store without one it just shocks me how little they care about their neighbors.

  13. Maskers…you do know that the virus can enter through your eyes,right? No what good is your mask. Think about that and for god’s sake ,do your research.

  14. @CORINNE . . . you must have studied it all? Good for you! BUT, don’t try to to be like your “ruler” in a Country that is soooo far behind, that it’s more like a joke by now and tourism will suffer for years, if people won’t start somewhere to ban that virus more and more.
    Foreigners are NOT looking forward to get anywhere near the US for a long time, if there’s a kind of education going on and spread by a President that prefers Guns all over the Media but bans breastfeeding or even nude people at the beach, while he himself enjoys his freedom to stick it up wherever he can (thinking of his loose wording and “fake” News, nothing else i think he could stick anymore ….) The US will be hit so hard if people do not start somewhere to finally get it more under control, that the moment right now, is NOTHING, compared to what could hit you in that country.
    Greetings from Germany, so far, we’re damn good in protecting the people from that Virus ….. even without goggles!

  15. I’m happy about this. I’m happy that Trump is going to round up tens of thousands of his most rabid worshippers and squeeze them tightly into poorly-ventilated rooms, where they will spend hours screaming, huffing and puffing in each others faces. I hope they do this every day through October. By then, the hospitals will be overflowing with the orange hat set. Then the only things that could save the election for the fascists then would be rolling tanks (and it seems even the US military leadership is in no mood to prop up the orange one anymore), or an even bigger election hack by Putin.

    So kudos to Allegiant Air. Get all those denialist morons together and let them infect each other. Please.

  16. I wouldn’t fly Allegiant regardless of their mask policy.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t fly any airline that didn’t require masks at this point.

  17. @Corrine and @George – the point of the mask is to protect OTHER people. I wear a mask to protect you (including your eyes) and you wear a mask to protect me (including my eyes). If I wear a mask, and you refuse to do so, then yes, my eyes are a possible portal to what may be leaving your uncovered mouth. The science is very clear and it absolutely shocks me that decent politeness and courtesy and care for your neighbor has become a political issue. When I see people without a mask, I am absolutely judging them as selfish and uncaring.

  18. @corinne The risk of catching it thru your eyes is significantly smaller than the transmission risk through your mouth and nose. And, of course, your eyes don’t transmit coronavirus to others (tears possibly excepted).

    It’s nothing to do with being for or against masks. It’s just basic science and simple actions that significantly reduce transmission risk.

  19. Ben, I’m a long time reader and don’t normally comment, but I feel like friendly feedback may be helpful.

    Masks seem to be the dominant topic of your blog lately, and I think you’ve exhausted it. There is so much more going on in the world of travel than that, even these days, and coming back to it every day doesn’t feel informative, or too interesting to read anymore, quite frankly. As for me, my opinion on this whole issue is on neither side of the extreme, but that’s not the point…the point is that I’d love to read about the variety of travel topics that you always brought here over the years, the quality of which made your blog stand out against others, and frankly made it better than mainstream travel media, and I think I’m not alone. The debate on this topic in the comments section it prompts is predictable, points to the current state of polarization in society, and also probably doesn’t help or inform anybody anymore, if it ever did… I get that there is nothing forcing me to click on this or any other of the articles, but you only have 24 hours a day, and clearly, this has pushed out other content that you would otherwise have on the site.

    Anyway, just my two cents…

  20. I wear a mask. I work in the medical field so it’s obviously required for me to do so. Based on all of knowledge I have acquired from my years of medical education and training, I wish everyone would just comply and wear a mask when out they are out in public. That being said, if you expect everyone to be wearing a mask everywhere you go, then you are just as dumb as the people who are refusing to wear one.

  21. @Ben or @Tiffany or whoever, I would love to know why my comment, which pointed out the flaws of BOTH sides of this argument was the one taken down…??? Are you reading the biased, nasty responses on here, really, mine was the one in this thread that needed to go…??? You have my email from me posting, so please feel free to reach out, I would like to hear your side of it…

  22. @ SEM — If you’d like to revise your comment, and find a metaphor that doesn’t equate established scientific advice with the forced identification system of an antisemitic fascist regime, we’d be happy to publish it.

  23. Whatever Allegiant’s calculus is, it won’t work. Sure, they’ll have their base but it is hard to imagine AA, UA, DL, AS, or WN loyalists switching to them over a face mask requirement. They may actually lose more of their base than they stand to gain.

  24. @Tiffany, got it…I will add a less controversial metaphor for the more liberal argument , just as I had for the more conservative point of view…

    However, to be clear, I was in no way shape or form equating the “scientific advice with the forced identification system of an antisemitic fascist regime”…I was equating the way that people are USING a symbol or action, in this case to wear or not wear a mask, as a way to IDENTIFY and SHAME perceived groups into doing what the opposing side wants…

    @Ben has said repeatedly how he “fears” that some people may abuse the Medical “out”, so to speak, which allows you to not wear a mask if you have certain medical conditions…So someone may legitimately be walking around without a mask on and it seems that the majority of the commenters here would immediately label them a Conservative without knowing anything more about them…The mask, or lack of a mask at that point becomes, when solely used as the basis for making that decision, a means of discrimination…

  25. As I said yesterday, there are topics on which reasonable people can disagree. Face mask usage in crowded spaces like planes shouldn’t be one of those. Not wearing a mask in public during a pandemic is selfish and irresponsible.

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