Lufthansa Trades Social Distancing For Face Masks

Filed Under: Lufthansa

Yesterday JetBlue announced that they’d make face masks mandatory when traveling, which is something I expect will soon become the standard across airlines. Lufthansa has just made a similar announcement, but they’re eliminating another protection in the process.

Lufthansa will require face masks

It has been announced that between May 4 and August 31, 2020, Lufthansa Group airlines will ask all passengers to wear a mouth-nose cover onboard flights.

The company recommends passengers use face coverings throughout the entire journey (in other words, when at the airport, when minimum distance cannot be guaranteed, etc.). Furthermore, Lufthansa Group flight attendants will also be wearing masks.

Passengers are required to bring their own masks. A reusable fabric mask is recommended, but all other types of coverings, such as simple disposable masks or scarves are also allowed.

Face coverings will be required across Lufthansa Group airlines

Lufthansa cuts blocked middle seats

In late March it was announced that Lufthansa and Eurowings would block all middle seats in economy and premium economy on flights from Germany. The decision had been made in conjunction with Germany’s Federal Minister of Transport.

With Lufthansa Group soon requiring masks on flights, this policy will no longer apply. As the press release describes it, “wearing the mouth-nose cover provides adequate health protection.”

It’s also noted that due to the current low occupancy rate, seats will nevertheless be allocated as widely as possible throughout the cabin.

Lufthansa claims that since the outbreak of the pandemic, no concrete cases of transmission on Lufthansa Group flights have become known.

Lufthansa will no longer block middle seats

This is a move towards a new normal

Let me say up front that I don’t like wearing face masks for an extended period of time. It’s one of the reasons I don’t leave home or travel right now (in addition to just trying to be a decent person). I’m sure I will get used to it over time, though like many, it’s not something I particularly enjoy.

That being said, I’m 100% supportive of this, because widespread policies like this will help the industry slowly return to normal:

  • Making face masks mandatory on planes is one of the steps needed to normalize flying, until we have further advancements in fighting COVID-19 in other areas, like testing, vaccines, etc.
  • It’s simply not possible to social distance on planes, no matter what kind of fake promises airlines make
  • Ideally airlines would block seats and require passengers to wear face masks (because some separation is better than none, even if it’s not a full six feet), but at least in theory being able to sell all seats makes the airline business more sustainable once people start flying again

More precautions are needed for now so that travel can eventually resume, and hopefully over time advancements in other areas will mean this will no longer be needed.

Ryanair’s CEO is also in favor of making face masks mandatory

Bottom line

I’m pleased to see more airlines adding face mask requirements. Ideally airlines would block seats and require face masks, but the economics of that are obviously challenging. Once we go back to flying, I suspect this will be a consistent requirement for at least some period of time.

Do you think we’ll see most airlines requiring face masks soon?

  1. Lucky, should we assume with airlines beginning to have mask requirements throughout the flight that there will be no inflight food or beverages served for the next year or so?
    This must cause problems on the 7+ hour routes…

  2. Face masks should be required till at least the end of September for all passengers throughout the airport journey. While it is uncomfortable, it is absolutely necessary at this time.

    I am sure the the traveling public will understand, and I do not expect air traffic to increase till at least July in most parts of the country. Even then, I am sure loads will still be light.

    I have a feeling that road trips will increase in popularity this summer

  3. I support mandatory face masks if the airline provides them. In many places in the US face masks are not available at any price right now, and as such I find it really hard to require sewing skill to be able to board an airplane.

  4. “Your health and the prevention of spreading Covid-19 is our priority, except if it impacts our business model so screw social distancing and wear masks in the cattle”.

    Thought to be fair, at least some airlines have the decency to openly admit that social distancing (in the form of free middle seats) would ruin their business model.

  5. So , is it required that all passengers to wear it throughout the journey? What if people take them off or just pull them down to under their face during the flight? And also, same question as @shaifa asked above.

  6. Most of this is just BS or maybe the better word is PR. I’m guessing enforcing mask wearing is unlikely to happen. AA’s statement of giving out masks and sanitizer is another PR thing. Does anyone thing AA has enough masks and sanitizer to last for very long? I’d imagine within a month, if not within a week or two they would be out of it.

    I’m not saying masks aren’t effective but it only takes one person who doesn’t wear one and cough or sneeze and has the virus to infect a few others, or more. There was the guy in NY that didn’t know he had it at first and they traced him to spreading it to 50 people. And who knows how many people those 50 people then spread it to and so one. Like a bad movie.

    And you still got people who think this is nothing. It is funny (sorry but yeah, to me it is funny) to see those types get sick and suffer greatly.

  7. Face masks cannot replace social distancing.
    Greedy airlines want to sell more tickets.
    Cheap flyers want to pay low fares.
    Nobody wins. This is the new normal.

    It has already been done on 7+ hours . People have survived. It’s called AirAsia, Norwegian, Scoot.

  8. Anyone who wants to wear a face mask should do so, but requiring them is stupid. First, there are likely at least 10 million Americans who have already had CoVID-19 and are no longer a risk. As time goes on many of them will know this (via antibody testing). Second, there are a variety of reasons that people would choose not to wear a mask, and they shouldn’t have to explain this to anyone.

  9. “wearing the nose-mouth cover provides adequate health protection”

    Utter rubbish.

    If you’re infected, you spread infection by breathing, and deflecting your breath around a flap of paper makes zero difference.

  10. Remove the mask Take a drink and achoo kaboom!
    No eating or drinking the entire flight or do we cut a hole in the mask and slip a straw through
    It’s not one or the other it’s about doing all you can to reduce the likelihood of transmission

  11. @ Ben — Yes, definitely a move to the new normal. Plus, this makes way more sense. Blocking the middle seat is silly. Still waiting for a real refund policy before EVER buying another ticket from them. Even with that, I probably won’t ever buy a ticket from them again. My new favorite airline is Qatar since they apparently know how to treat passengers right and probably have the best international flight from ATL. Hello, Lufthansa, are you listening? Do you give a **** about your customers?

  12. @Endre:
    Air Canada requires face masks on all flights during the entire flight. Boarding is only allowed when wearing a face mask. Duing my transatlantic red eye last week flight attendants were regularly checking with a flashlight if everyone wears a facemask. On todays transatlantic flight the crew is more relaxed and checking less and more polite.
    It is allowed to take off the mask while eating and drinking.
    At least on Air Canada the meal service is reduced in all booking classes to a prepacked wrap, banana bread, some chocolate covered dry fruits, a stick of cheese and crackers. It comes in small box.

  13. N95 mask or respirators an actually cut of oxygen supply by up to 20 percent coupled with the fact of additional carbon dioxide inhalation, often leading users to feel tired, nausea and can also lead to other more serious medical conditions.

    Though these mask were designed to prevent inhalation of dangerous pathogens etc, they were not designed for long term usage and with the current COVID-19 crisis, many medical staff are using it for extended periods of time.

  14. I agree with Rich, this is an especially heinous piece of PR. Isn’t this like when AA declared they care so about the environment so much, they eliminated plastic straws? (in case you don’t get my point: I’ve never seen a plastic straw on any airline in any travel class, or ANY business class lounge in my travels)

    Lufthansa’s paxex has been infamous for a while, but it’s now officially one of the distasteful things that make me go hmm… about Germany, alongside the lies of Dieselgate and Bayer’s purchase of Monsanto (now with a new 5 bn dollar legal defense fund). Let them fall…

  15. I remember getting a face mask as an amenity in J onboard an intercontinental ANA flight end of the nineties. It was explained to me that it should help to retain moisture (which kinda makes sense given the dry air on board)…let’s just pretend we are all in business class. For those of you complaining about the absence of flat beds: these haven’t been there end of the 90s..and the IFE was way worse.
    Anybody remember the bags with fruit and sandwiches that Lufthansa used to have on short intra-european or domestic flights? Believe that was early to mid 90s. Maybe something like that comes back.
    To those saying that masks have no effect because people will take them off eventually: true, but there is no “safe” environment. It’s about trying to lessen the risk. I must say though that LHs claim that distance is no longer required due to wearing masks sounds idiotic indeed. I believe that physical distance onboard an airplane can’t be achieved anyway, so seatblocking was a rather stupid idea imho.

  16. Wearing face masks is not the perfect protective measure – true
    Wearing face masks brings inconvenience and discomfort – true
    So requiring face masks is a hoax/PR stunt/greedy companies being greedy – ?????

    I guess logic is no longer a thing for some people

  17. What about an emergency situation where the oxygen masks are deployed? Do you wear it over your regular mask? Or emergencies are now canceled?

  18. I see the idiots have come out to post.

    They are the reason we have to require wearing masks. If you don’t want to hear one…you can choose not to fly, but you don’t have the right to impact me or my life because of your selfishness and stupidity

  19. This will last maybe 2 months. Frankly I’m not planning to call fly until mid-late fall at which time hopefully this nonsense will be over. Personally I will ONLY wear a mask if mandated by law or required for something I absolutely have to do (and then will look for the one that is loose and comfortable which, while meeting the requirements would do little to actually promote safety). Let’s move to herd immunity and the reopening of the economy is great. Treatments are coming fast and furious so let’s just assume all will be infected and get over the senseless theatrics. I accept that fact, regardless of the outcome, and best if you do as well.

  20. did they mention service in business and first? can’t imagine to fly 12 hrs without drinking and eating..what about lounges?

  21. @lucky.
    For God sake, people is bashing and complaining about airlines having full flights, but they could in many cases buy a full row for under one hundred dollars. In other words, they expect the airlines to give them a full row for the price of one heavenly discounted seat.
    That is just not going to happen.

    I also think that the government could require airlines to block the middle seat. This would allow airlines to bump up prices and compete on an equal field during the essential travel period.

  22. Nope. Not gonna do it. Will not get on a plane until full-service is restored and none of the BS. CFR of 0.2% to 0.6% with 80%+ of those 1 in 500 fatalities coming among the elderly and highly vulnerable. They can wear masks. Leave the rest of us alone.

  23. @John Mitchell, what an appalling attitude. Even taking your numbers as a fact (and assuming CFR = IFR which is even more difficult) and just 0,2% we are talking about 650000 people in the US alone. If 20% of those are in the non-elderly/vulnerable group were still talking about 130000 fatalities.
    I agree that those at risk should not travel at all if possible. But saying that the elderly/vulnerable are the only ones who need protect themselves sounds unbelievably dumb and cynical to me.
    We will see measures introduced to travel (in the same way that airport security was ramped up after 9/11) which will eventually become the norm. That might entail that wearing masks becomes mandatory in public transport or becoming the social norm if vulnerable or having cold symptoms.
    Like mitigating security risks in travel, those measures won’t guarantee there’s no risk of contracting Covid-19 (or any other virus for that matter), but they will lower the risk – in the same way that airport security measures are improving aviation safety, but are far from preventing each and every possible incident.

  24. It does not matter what airline bean counters now say or do. Passangers vote with their feet and pocketbook. Same as with the Boeing Max: ‘if its Boeing I ain’t going…’, remember? Airlines must physically remove some middle seats to be seen as being safe. Heck, most people nowadays are wary of driving to their local stores, how likely are they to be crammed into planes protected only by the ‘I dont give a damn about anyone else and have a bit of cloth dangling under my chin’ type mask?
    Unless airlines are PERCEIVED as safe, the majority of public will stay away. Those flying will be hardpressed business people, and the foolhardy. But you don’t make a profit flying only those. LH’s ‘we will fill the cattle area to its brim again and God help all’ policy will last exactly two weeks, until the first really big spread of the virus on one of its widebody flights.

  25. Has everyone forgotten that IATA’s Doctor was quoted as saying that airliner air circulation systems make masks unnecessary just a few weeks ago. This is all about making scared people feel better, but that could have been done with some education too. Also, nobody seems concerned about our future ability to fight off disease if we stop exercising our immune systems.

  26. @Barry sorry…but: while it’s unlikely to catch something out of the AC (indeed, the air is exchanged very frequently AFAIK due to the nature of aircraft pressurisation systems), of course you’ll be more than able to breathe in droplets from sneezes and coughs in your vicinity. Otherwise no one would have ever gotten a cold from one of their fellow passengers.
    So the pax in 15A is highly unlikely to catch a cold from the sneezing lady in 26C, but the coughing guy in 16B or the lady blowing her nose in 14D? Can happen.

  27. I hear you but if preventing illness were as simple as wearing masks, then why haven’t we been doing that for thousands of years? People need to get sick and better, to keep their immune systems working and to allow us to develop cures. I’ve rarely if ever got sick after any of the hundreds of flights I’ve been on and I doubt that not one of those flights had a sick person near me.

    The IATA medical adviser also said:

    Q: Does wearing masks and gloves help prevent infections?

    A: First of all, masks. There’s very limited evidence of benefit, if any, in a casual situation. Masks are useful for those who are unwell to protect other people from them. But wearing a mask all the time will be ineffective. It will allow viruses to be transmitted around it, through it and worse still, if it becomes moist it will encourage the growth of viruses and bacteria. Gloves are probably even worse, because people put on gloves and then touch everything they would have touched with their hands. So it just becomes another way of transferring micro-organisms. And inside the gloves, your hands get hot and sweaty, which is a really good environment for microbes to grow.

  28. Nobody said it’s going to prevent all infections. It’s one of many measures to help lessen the infection rate. Someone who is sick and wears a mask is less likely to infect someone sitting near. Someone wearing a mask is a little less likely to catch something.
    And no, we don’t always get infected with everything around us (thankfully). But we need to slow the infection rate, or else we won’t be able to care for those who become very sick. Look at Italy, Spain, New York.

  29. Lufthansa did not block middle seats during the flight I took yesterday. Economy was packed, but they also did not enforce wearing masks, unlike Croatia airlines, despite the fact that on CA website it is also written they will start to enforce this from May 4th.

    It was a very strange trip…..

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