Airline CEOs Ask Biden To Drop Masks & Testing For Travel

Airline CEOs Ask Biden To Drop Masks & Testing For Travel

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The CEOs of 10 major US airlines have written a letter to US President Joe Biden asking him to drop the federal transportation mask mandate, plus the requirement to test for US-bound international travel. Will this request have any impact on the administration’s stance?

Letter from airline CEOs to President Biden

Yesterday 10 airline CEOs sent a letter to President Biden, which was signed by the CEOs of Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines, among others.

The letter starts by talking about all the measures that airlines voluntarily took at the start of the pandemic to keep people safe, plus the importance of many of the restrictions that the government has imposed. The letter then goes on to talk about how we’ve entered a different stage of the pandemic, and that now is the time to lift restrictions:

However, much has changed since these measures were imposed and they no longer make sense in the current public health context. The persistent and steady decline of hospitalization and death rates are the most compelling indicators that our country is well protected against severe disease from COVID-19.

Given that we have entered a different phase of dealing with this virus, we strongly support your view that “COVID-19 need no longer control our lives.” Now is the time for the Administration to sunset federal transportation travel restrictions – including the international predeparture testing requirement and the federal mask mandate – that are no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment.

The letter goes on to state the following:

The high level of immunity in the U.S., availability of high-quality masks for those who wish to use them, hospital-grade cabin air, widespread vaccine availability and newly available therapeutics provide a strong foundation for the Administration to lift the mask mandate and predeparture testing requirements. We urge you to do so now.

We are requesting this action not only for the benefit the of the traveling public, but also for the thousands of airline employees charged with enforcing a patchwork of now-outdated regulations implemented in response to COVID-19.

Perhaps more noteworthy from a political standpoint is that we’re even starting to see flight attendant unions come out against the mask mandate, when previously they asked President Biden to keep it in place. The Senate also recently voted to overturn the federal transportation mask mandate, but that has limited practical implications.

Airline CEOs want the mask mandate to be dropped

Will President Biden listen?

As it stands, the federal transportation mask mandate applies through April 18, 2022, after a recent one month extension. Meanwhile the requirement to be tested within 24 hours of travel to the United States doesn’t have an end date.

My personal take on these requirements is as follows:

  • While I absolutely think masks work, I think we’re at the point where people have access to vaccines and high quality masks so that they can make their own choices (and I say this as someone who will likely still choose to wear masks in certain situations); while masks are largely about protecting others, a KN95 provides a high level of protection to the person wearing it as well
  • The testing requirement is a complete money grab and borderline scam, not because of anything the US government is doing, but because the companies providing testing in some destinations are quite shady; also, in general there hasn’t been evidence that testing for travel works to stop transmission if a variant is already in a country

Up until now I’ve thought that the mask mandate wouldn’t be extended beyond April 18, and that we see the testing requirement eliminated not too long after that, before the summer travel rush. I still feel confident about that.

I guess the question is if there’s any chance that we could see the mask mandate lifted earlier than April 18? Politically speaking, this would be a good time to do so, with hospitalizations and cases way down, and another variant on the horizon. The optics of Biden lifting the mask mandate if cases start to go up again in a few weeks wouldn’t be great. Meanwhile many people wouldn’t be happy if the mandate were extended even further.

I don’t think it’s out of the question that Biden just lifts the mask mandate earlier than the April 18 date, but I also don’t think it’s likely.

Will the Biden administration listen to airline CEOs?

Bottom line

The CEOs of major airlines in the United States have written to President Biden, asking him to lift the current federal transportation mask mandate, plus the requirement to get tested when traveling to the United States. The former is currently in place through April 18, while the latter has no end date. They reason that we’ve entered a different stage of the pandemic, and it’s time to change policies accordingly.

The concept of lifting the transportation mask mandate is getting much more widespread support, though only time will tell if this causes the administration to change its stance.

When do you think the current mask mandate and testing requirement for air travel will be lifted?

Conversations (51)
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  1. JBCH Guest

    Which masks absolutely work? Because the majority are a money grab and like Fauci said back in 2020…Masks don’t work unless you put on at least two and they must be the expensive ones!

  2. NYGuy24 Gold

    Well being that one in every sixteen people in the UK has covid right now I don't think the testing or masking requirement is going anywhere. We have seen what happens when you drop all restrictions. Like 2% of their hospital labor force is out sick. This puts everyone else who has medical issues at risk. Also while deaths from covid are low in the UK keep in mind that most people there are vaccinated....

    Well being that one in every sixteen people in the UK has covid right now I don't think the testing or masking requirement is going anywhere. We have seen what happens when you drop all restrictions. Like 2% of their hospital labor force is out sick. This puts everyone else who has medical issues at risk. Also while deaths from covid are low in the UK keep in mind that most people there are vaccinated. The US probably won't be soo lucky in terms of death numbers with all the anti-vaxxers running around the US.

    1. Mr. Obvious Guest

      Please provide some reference to back up your 1 in 16 comment. According to my unofficial math and research - UK had 1,165,000 cases from March 11 thru 24. Even giving the benefit that people positive two weeks ago still count, given the country has 67MM people, this comes out to about 1 in 50 people. Until you back this up you are just a fear monger spinning your narrative.

  3. Emily Guest

    My below comment refers to domestic air travel. However, I am still in support of nations enforcing entry across their borders only after passengers can produce a legitimate negative RT-PCR report. Vaccinated or not, the risks for new mutations remain.

  4. Emily Guest

    I have always worn aesthetically designed N95 masks in crowded public spaces and during air travel - even before the covid pandemic - and will continue to do so in the future. However, I do think that at some point, the choice needs to be given.

  5. Verna Guest

    It's ALWAYS about money. The CEO'S are protected in their big lonesome offices. Do they want to serve unmasked passengers in an enclosed cabin - for hours at a time?? Neither do flight attendants. Until we have ZERO cases, Covid is a threat. Over half a million Americans are dead. That's enough. Say NO President Biden.

    1. Mr. Obvious Guest

      OMG - you people are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!! Until we have zero cases? This is a troll typing right? If not, better come to the table of reality or retreat to your Doomsday shelter because coronaviruses have been with us since the beginning of time, and will be with us until the Trumpets sound!!

  6. Denis Bekaert Guest

    While I am as anxious as the vast majority of people to drop the mask mandates sooner rather than later, my attention continues to focus on the inane testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers to return to their own county when the southern borders are essentially total open with thousands of unvaccinated and untested people flooding in every day. Biden and his "science" have totally dropped the ball on this one. It's obviously politically driven...

    While I am as anxious as the vast majority of people to drop the mask mandates sooner rather than later, my attention continues to focus on the inane testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers to return to their own county when the southern borders are essentially total open with thousands of unvaccinated and untested people flooding in every day. Biden and his "science" have totally dropped the ball on this one. It's obviously politically driven and totally ignores both logic and science.

  7. Mr. Obvious Guest

    Again - this will all go way until the mid-terms are over (it is magical how the timing of everything is working isn't it?) - after that you can expect the Dem controlled 'zones' within the USA to go back to telling us how to live our lives and shut our mouths if we have a differing opinion. If you are too blind to figure out what is going on - then please move to...

    Again - this will all go way until the mid-terms are over (it is magical how the timing of everything is working isn't it?) - after that you can expect the Dem controlled 'zones' within the USA to go back to telling us how to live our lives and shut our mouths if we have a differing opinion. If you are too blind to figure out what is going on - then please move to Canada. I'll leave it with this awesome statement made in a story that was recently on CNN's front page - which speaks volumes of the delusional "facts" that these liberals live by day in and day out - "In other words, sooner than later, it will -- again -- become a story of the unvaccinated and the damage they are inflicting on society by their stubborn refusal to protect their neighbors."-Kent Sepkowitz...a physician and infection disease expert. There it is folks - by not getting a shot of something that offers zero protection from transmission to others, YOU are refusing to protect others. Can't make this horse-crap up!

    1. Chuck Guest

      Clearly, you are an expert at endeavoring to mitigate the effects of a pandemic.

    2. Mr. Obvious Guest

      I am glad you noticed Charles, thank you!

    3. UA-NYC Diamond

      Wow, another GQP mouth breather, shocker...care to float some other pedophile/5G/Bill Gates misinformation while you're at it?

    4. Justin Trucker Guest

      ...Karen, stop telling people what to do. If you want to walk around in a bubble be my guest. Otherwise, stop trying to turn scientific opinion into absolute truth. You just repeat what your the dems say to do.

  8. PO Guest

    I work for a major airline at a major airport and even though everyone is required to wear a mask (I hear the agents barking and threatening passengers multiple times a day) the general public is over it. They simply wear them to please big brother, but they also keep them under their noses. Nobody wears then anymore in our offices under the airport either. It's run it's course and anything further is the government...

    I work for a major airline at a major airport and even though everyone is required to wear a mask (I hear the agents barking and threatening passengers multiple times a day) the general public is over it. They simply wear them to please big brother, but they also keep them under their noses. Nobody wears then anymore in our offices under the airport either. It's run it's course and anything further is the government trying to control the flying public as long as possible. Just use common sense and let's get on with our lives. Cough cough! ;-)

  9. Steve Diamond

    This is great news. Let people choose to wear a mask or not. No one is being forced to take a plane ride so if you dont feel comfortable then dont fly. I will bring a mask in case im next to someone with the sniffles and if im not then i wont wear it, but the key is that its my choice not yours!

    1. Andrew Diamond

      So you will wear a mask to protect yourself, but not others? Your scenario didn’t include what you would do if you have the sniffles.

  10. DMNYC Guest

    I get the desire, and I am also wary of doing what we've done at every stage of this pandemic...which is when lagging indicators (like hospitalizations and deaths) fall, we throw caution to the wind, even as leading indicators are rising and new variants are on the horizon.

    I think they should signal an intention to lift the mandate, but also indicate that they want to wait until closer to the expiration to ensure that,...

    I get the desire, and I am also wary of doing what we've done at every stage of this pandemic...which is when lagging indicators (like hospitalizations and deaths) fall, we throw caution to the wind, even as leading indicators are rising and new variants are on the horizon.

    I think they should signal an intention to lift the mandate, but also indicate that they want to wait until closer to the expiration to ensure that, with a new variant already here (and mass leading indicators like virus levels in waste water, which we should have been testing from the beginning, rising) that lifting the mandate won't occur during the leading edge of a new surge.

  11. D3kingg Guest

    In theory yes it makes sense but I don’t think President Biden makes independent decisions on his own and the people he consults with are too liberal to give him the OK to life the mask mandates. On the other hand Biden is not doing well in the polls so maybe he has nothing to lose here. And if some passengers want to continue wearing masks that is fine.

    1. UA-NYC Diamond

      Meanwhile GQP approval of Putin soars to record highs:

      Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has praised Fox News for its coverage, appearing on the Russian state-controlled RT network to hail the right-leaning US cable channel, whose primetime host Tucker Carlson has played down the invasion.

    2. Mr. Obvious Guest

      Trump Derangement Syndrome is strong with this one. May you seek the help you require before TDS.2024 variant takes over!!!

    3. UA-NYC Diamond

      Literally didn't refer to the former Criminal in Chief once in my post...good try though MAGA mouth breather

  12. Donna Diamond

    They should lift the testing requirement for vaccinated Americans and the mask mandate at the same time, and sooner rather than later.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      I'm guessing that's exactly what happens in April.

  13. Alex Guest

    This is such a huge issue because wearing a KN95 of better mask is sooo difficult and such a huge sacrifice. I mean come on, how can anyone especially adults be expected to make such a minor sacrifice to save the lives of other immunocompromised people? Our society is based on the freedom of not giving a sh*t about other people!

    1. Rod McAllen Guest

      Let the inmunocompromised stay home and wear 3 masks if they want. Time for the rest of us to enjoy life

    2. Chuck Gold

      Rod, you're right. And we should be able to smoke in restaurants, too.

    3. Joshua New Member

      We’ve never upended society in the past for the immunocompromised. We’ve never even required masks in the past for the general public to protect the immunocompromised. One way N95 masking is extremely effective at preventing infection by Covid-19. So if you need a mask, wear one. It doesn’t matter what the person next to you is doing.

    4. MG Guest

      Anyone truly in concern of life and death from COVID should not be dependent on the mask and should simply stay home.

    5. JoePro Gold

      Unfortunately, our society of existence relies on not giving a s&*t about each other. Wear a mask, trade in your car for a bike, never fly again, etc.
      The complexities of ethics are such that this could be a never ending discussion. How many immunocompromised lives are we saving, here? How much waste are we creating with these masks? Will we be able to keep up supply? Do we not allow eating/drinking on planes?

      ...

      Unfortunately, our society of existence relies on not giving a s&*t about each other. Wear a mask, trade in your car for a bike, never fly again, etc.
      The complexities of ethics are such that this could be a never ending discussion. How many immunocompromised lives are we saving, here? How much waste are we creating with these masks? Will we be able to keep up supply? Do we not allow eating/drinking on planes?

      Up until Omicron, I've been very supportive of mask mandates. It is indeed a minor inconvenience. Yet our mandates don't dictate N95, which means they're mandates for show at this point. Etc, etc.

      Anyways, I also think we should let anyone who wants to go into airport terminals in (through security, of course). But this charade of false security seems to be never ending.

    6. james Guest

      um the vaccine is supposed to prevent hospitalization in the immunocompromised. the margin for risk is almost significant if they've been boosted. we're over the "mandates." if people are hysteric about dying from covid at this point they can stay home.

    7. Alex Guest

      James, you don’t seem to understand the fundamentals of how vaccines work. Here’s a recent headline that might help you understand the problem: “A new study, published last month in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly ReportTrusted Source, found that people with compromised immune systems were likely to show reduced immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines.”

  14. RSB31 Guest

    Please keep in mind that vaccines aren’t yet available for everyone. I’m tired of masks, too, but as a parent of an infant I’m really hoping people can hold out a few more weeks/months so that all children have the opportunity to be vaccinated (should their parents choose so).

    1. Alonzo Diamond

      The science is out, what is vaccine availability for children going to accomplish? Hold out a little longer for what purpose/reason?

    2. Kevin Guest

      @RSB31

      On the other side of the coin, how about you hold out traveling with your infant for a "few more months" so that you have the opportunity to vaccinate your kid if you so choose? Rational people are ready to move on with their lives.

    3. RSB31 Guest

      It’s not always a choice. My wife and I have made a lot of sacrifices this past year to protect our child. We need to be productive members of society too, unless you’re suggesting we lock ourselves in our home and never leave. On the rare occasions that we HAVE to go somewhere, asking others to wear a mask to help protect a child really doesn’t feel like a big ask.

    4. Alonzo Diamond

      So selfish. You sound like a self entitled idiot. People other than yourselves have been making sacrifices for years, join the club. You can't make this shit up. Selfish people should not be parents.

    5. JoePro Gold

      Hi RSB... wishing good health for you and your newborn.

      There'd be a couple things I'd consider... one: look at the statistical risks for infants. I understand COVID is at the forefront of people's minds these days, and this leads us to some irrational fears. Fearing Covid for an infant... while not out of a complete realm of possibility... doesn't really fit into rational.
      Less than 1,000 children have passed from this in...

      Hi RSB... wishing good health for you and your newborn.

      There'd be a couple things I'd consider... one: look at the statistical risks for infants. I understand COVID is at the forefront of people's minds these days, and this leads us to some irrational fears. Fearing Covid for an infant... while not out of a complete realm of possibility... doesn't really fit into rational.
      Less than 1,000 children have passed from this in the last 2 years. More than twice as many died in car wrecks.

      I'd also encourage you to read about how safe airline filtration systems are. At least... if the airlines are to be believed... safe enough to eliminate the need for social distancing/seat blocking. Combine that with your option to wear an N95 for the journey, and being vaccinated yourself, and your levels of protection against infection are sky high, meaning the concern about passing it to your infant should be little to nil.

    6. Joshua New Member

      This is the answer right here; the overall risk to children from Covid-19 is exceedingly small. Far more kids die from drowning, auto crashes, and gunshots than from Covid, yet you don’t see the world up in arms trying to remove all pools or cars.

      Being alive has some inherent risk of death. While it is certianly reasonable to try to mitigate those risks, infant mortality related to Covid is not a place to focus any effort.

    7. Bob Guest

      I have had three shots and got a blood clot from the first.

      The blood thinning medicine is $1500 for 90 days.

      I will wear a mask only if mandated in a plane.

      If a business has a mask mandate, I will not enter.

      Your ask is big from my perspective.

    8. Gaurav Community Ambassador

      This--the mandates should go away once the vaccine is available for everyone and they have time to get the shots. Right now we have a huge 0-5 population that has no protection.

    9. Alonzo Diamond

      What protection? If it's under 50% what are we even talking about?

      https://www.cnbc.com/2022/02/28/pfizer-covid-vaccine-was-just-12percent-effective-against-omicron-in-kids-5-to-11-study-finds.html

      https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/23/covid-moderna-vaccine-for-young-kids-up-to-44percent-effective-against-omicron.html

    10. Joshua New Member

      It is fair to say that the zero to 5 age group doesn’t need protection as the risk to this age group is exceedingly small.

  15. DCA Will Always Be "National" Guest

    As a related aside, Canada has dropped the testing requirement for vaccinated travelers starting 1 April. I'm hoping that this is a turn of the tide for the US if the neighbors to the north are beginning a return to pre-pandemic life.

  16. jazzbird New Member

    Though there is some serious BS in this letter ("Our industry has leaned into science at every turn"--LOL!), the long overdue, commonsense request to finally end the nonsense deserves some praise.

  17. BKNoAloha Guest

    @Mr. Obvious- very ridiculous comment to say that liberals are irrational and ignorant when you have people on your side believing in QANON and any other Fox propelled boogeyman out there. Tucker Carlson has people afraid of their own shadows because they are black. That being said, hopefully the mandate expires on April 18, because so tired of the anti-maske/clout-chasing stories.

  18. Mr. Obvious Guest

    This will change nothing. Liberals are irrational and ignorant. Now, if Biden was up for election this year then the mandate would have been dropped well before now.

    1. David Diamond

      Libs ain't the ones that believe there are microchips in vaccines.

    2. Charles Guest

      You're right, they're the ones that nominate folks to SCOTUS because they're a woman and then refuses to define what a woman even is.

    3. Chuck Gold

      Charles, do you need help identifying women?

    4. Chuck Gold

      Excellent. Dunning and Kruger would be delighted to meet you.

  19. George Romey Guest

    In my mind they should tell Biden that if the mandate isn't dropped on April 18 they all will simply stop enforcing it. They should also note that passengers, cabin crew and airport staff will be allowed to wear a mask if they so desire. Nothing will be done and like the vaccine mandates this will quietly go away.

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Steve Diamond

This is great news. Let people choose to wear a mask or not. No one is being forced to take a plane ride so if you dont feel comfortable then dont fly. I will bring a mask in case im next to someone with the sniffles and if im not then i wont wear it, but the key is that its my choice not yours!

3
Mr. Obvious Guest

This will change nothing. Liberals are irrational and ignorant. Now, if Biden was up for election this year then the mandate would have been dropped well before now.

3
james Guest

um the vaccine is supposed to prevent hospitalization in the immunocompromised. the margin for risk is almost significant if they've been boosted. we're over the "mandates." if people are hysteric about dying from covid at this point they can stay home.

2
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