Scandinavian Airlines Ends Face Mask Requirement On Some Routes

Scandinavian Airlines Ends Face Mask Requirement On Some Routes

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For around 18 months now, having to wear a face mask while flying has become standard. There have been questions about when that will change, so it’s interesting to note that the face mask mandate when flying will be lifted in one part of the world shortly.

SAS ends face mask rules within Scandinavia

As of October 18, 2021, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) will no longer make face mask usage mandatory for flights within Scandinavian.

However, the airline will continue to follow the recommendations from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) when it comes to the use of face masks on flights outside of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. In other words, expect you’ll continue to have to wear a mask on SAS for now on flights to other European and intercontinental destinations.

As the airline describes it, this policy change comes “due to the opening of societies and general recommendations from authorities in Scandinavia.”

Sweden was widely talked about for its unusual approach to dealing with the pandemic. Unlike most other global health officials, Swedish health officials were against the use of face masks, arguing that they offer a false sense of security and can cause people to forget about social distancing.

SAS no longer requires mask usage on flights within Scandinavia

When will other airlines follow SAS’ lead?

To my knowledge, SAS is the only airline to fully lift its face mask requirement on select flights.

In early 2021, Cathay Pacific added a face mask exemption for first & business class passengers when sleeping, arguing that there was sufficient privacy and separation that there was no need for masks in bed mode. However, I can’t think of any other major airline that just lifted the mask mandate in select markets altogether.

Cathay Pacific doesn’t require masks when sleeping in premium cabins

Here in the United States, there’s currently a federal transportation mask mandate in place. While this is currently due to expire as of January 18, 2022, it very well could be extended, just as it has been in the past. Everyone seems to have a different take on this — personally I think the requirement will be extended yet again, but who really knows…

Bottom line

Scandinavian Airlines will shortly no longer require passengers to wear masks on flights within Scandinavia. I can’t think of another major airline that similarly lifted mask requirements, so that’s interesting to see. I suppose it’s not surprising that if there were an airline to lift this requirement first, it would be SAS, given Sweden’s messaging around masks.

Only time will tell when other airlines make similar policy changes.

When do you think other airlines will lift mask requirements?

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  1. Crusher Guest

    Mask wearing seems to be more of a symbol than actually being effective. The latest large scale survey, heralded as proof that masks work, concluded that they were 9.3% effective. Hardly the 80%+ that some owuld claim. If masks worked in the real world like they do in a lab then Covid would not be spreading in the way it is. The way air is ciculated on a aircraft means that even if you are...

    Mask wearing seems to be more of a symbol than actually being effective. The latest large scale survey, heralded as proof that masks work, concluded that they were 9.3% effective. Hardly the 80%+ that some owuld claim. If masks worked in the real world like they do in a lab then Covid would not be spreading in the way it is. The way air is ciculated on a aircraft means that even if you are sitting next to someone you're unlikely to be breathing the same air. I have not flown since masks were introduced and have no intention of doing so until they are.

  2. Samo Guest

    For some context: Swedish regional airlines removed mask mandates on July. Trains in Denmark and Norway have been mask free for weeks, Swedish trains never had the requirement in the first place. Norwegian airline (including "the" Norwegian) announced removal of mandates before SAS as well.

    SAS is basically just catching up with the competition. At this point, requiring masks in Scandinavia would be a major competitive disadvantage in a market where there's almost no customer...

    For some context: Swedish regional airlines removed mask mandates on July. Trains in Denmark and Norway have been mask free for weeks, Swedish trains never had the requirement in the first place. Norwegian airline (including "the" Norwegian) announced removal of mandates before SAS as well.

    SAS is basically just catching up with the competition. At this point, requiring masks in Scandinavia would be a major competitive disadvantage in a market where there's almost no customer demand for the mandate (just look at how many people wear them in stores or on trains).

    Very positive news indeed and I have already booked my first flight on SAS after a long break (sticking to BRA and Air Leap in recent months precisely for this reason).

  3. Jhony B Guest

    In the United States, masks have become a distinction of social class; if you work in hospitality or any kind of services you have to use it, those who enjoy the service (the ones that have more money (presumably) do not use the mask. Very good SAS !

  4. Peter Fox Guest

    This news was dropped Wednesday this week (41), and the only place in Norway where masks were still mandatory by law was Oslo International Airport - one building. That mandate was removed late Friday evening.

    1. Samo Guest

      In Denmark this absurdity continues for the time being. Arrive on a plane without a mask, put it on before entering the terminal, then put it off 10 minutes later as you cross the magic yellow tape demarking the border between airport and CPH Airport station and never put it on ever again while in Denmark.

      I hope authorities will catch up on this soon. I have a flight out of Århus scheduled the next...

      In Denmark this absurdity continues for the time being. Arrive on a plane without a mask, put it on before entering the terminal, then put it off 10 minutes later as you cross the magic yellow tape demarking the border between airport and CPH Airport station and never put it on ever again while in Denmark.

      I hope authorities will catch up on this soon. I have a flight out of Århus scheduled the next month, but it's a small airport so at worst I'll just wait outside until ~5 minutes before boarding.

  5. Robert Guest

    GBOSC- in March 2021 the CDC published a report based on fiscal year 2020 inclusive on the number of people that they can identify with great specificity who contracted COVID while on an airplane. This report was prior to the introduction of the vaccines. The number they identified was a total of 86 +/-. Trump decimated our industry and now Joe is just kicking the can down the road.

  6. GBOAC Platinum

    I note a lot of comments all claiming that masks do not make a difference. However not one of the posters provide any reference to studies that actually show that. OTOH the are several published reports by reputable organization that show a correlation between masking and decreased transmission .
    Now one of them is the CDC which I suspect has no credibility with the posters since they have yet to approve Ivermectin.

    1. Nevsky Gold

      Any responsible website would immediately remove the posts that are not opinions but factually false and causing the very problem that necessitate masks. Frankly, we would all be better off if vaccinations were mandatory to fly and then maybe we could all stop wearing masks.

    2. Shutterbug New Member

      You are spot on. It’s quite sobering to read the comments. Anti-maskers (who all too often are also anti-vaxxers) seem to have a field day. If they ignore scientific studies I suggest they simply look at the deathrate per capita of states which have adopted a very liberal mask policy like the US, UK, Brazil and yes, also Sweden.

    3. WalnutCreek1K New Member

      Here you go: https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/m20-6817. Proper RCT study.

    4. Azamaraal Guest

      Thank you for the link to the study. As expected the outcome could be interpreted either way by a layperson.

      Although the study found a slightly reduced infection rate in mask wearers please carefully not that the difference was NOT statistically significant. The study also listed other caveats when comparing Coovid to SARS and other viruses that were studied for effectiveness of masks.

      The most Important fact is that the study used 3-layer N98 Medical...

      Thank you for the link to the study. As expected the outcome could be interpreted either way by a layperson.

      Although the study found a slightly reduced infection rate in mask wearers please carefully not that the difference was NOT statistically significant. The study also listed other caveats when comparing Coovid to SARS and other viruses that were studied for effectiveness of masks.

      The most Important fact is that the study used 3-layer N98 Medical Grade Masks for the general public test group. NOBODY in the general public has access to, or uses, 98% efficient medical masks. We all use the little cheapo blue things of a scarf or a home-made single layer.

      So the not statistically significant result was probably as high as it was because the study used high grade masks changed at least once a day. My mask from last week is still in my pocket.

      So I would totally agree. Between poor masks, poor masking techniques, lack of mask rotation our use of masks does nothing to prevent the spread of Covid - and probably gives a false sense of protection while having the satisfaction of virtue signalling.

      For further "proof" - I have watched months of full capacity stadiums of frantic unmasked football fans cheek to jowl without any indication by the CDC of any resulting covid spreading from such events. Isn't that a significant anecdote to the argument?

    5. Ralph4878 Guest

      Not sure I'd argue that the football game is not "proof" - football happens outside...we know that outside, in the elements, the risk of transmitting and catching COVID (and other aerosol-spreading diseases) remains quite low.

      The Danish study noted here concludes: "The recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers by more than 50% in a community with modest infection rates, some...

      Not sure I'd argue that the football game is not "proof" - football happens outside...we know that outside, in the elements, the risk of transmitting and catching COVID (and other aerosol-spreading diseases) remains quite low.

      The Danish study noted here concludes: "The recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers by more than 50% in a community with modest infection rates, some degree of social distancing, and uncommon general mask use. The data were compatible with lesser degrees of self-protection." SO, if a "layperson" were to conclude that masks don't work from this, they aren't using their critical thinking skills - there are LOTS of caveats/conditions noted here - by 50% is a big one, as is the "in a community with...uncommon general mask use."

  7. K.C. Cooper Guest

    Norwegian Air and Wideroe also dropped their mask policies for flights in Scandinavia.

    1. Samo Guest

      And BRA and Air Leap dropped them in July.

  8. Anton Wahlman Guest

    Masks were already somewhere between rare and nonexistent at Swedish airports such as Arlanda/Stockholm months ago: https://seekingalpha.com/instablog/200447-anton-wahlman/5625121-i-just-best-airport-experience-in-world-this-year

    1. Samo Guest

      I have been flying on BRA and Air Leap since July when they dropped their mandates and saying that masks are non-existent at Swedish airports isn't far from the truth. The only people that seem to somehow consistently wear them are the ones arriving from elsewhere in Europe who aren't accustomed to local rules - leading to bizzare scene I witnessed at Bromma upon arrival of a flight from Brussels, where passengers in masks flocked...

      I have been flying on BRA and Air Leap since July when they dropped their mandates and saying that masks are non-existent at Swedish airports isn't far from the truth. The only people that seem to somehow consistently wear them are the ones arriving from elsewhere in Europe who aren't accustomed to local rules - leading to bizzare scene I witnessed at Bromma upon arrival of a flight from Brussels, where passengers in masks flocked around mask-free policemen :D

      The only Swedish airport that had mask mandate was Skavsta. But even there, police were mask-free as it was only an internal policy of the airport and it obviously doesn't have authority over police (I mean, technically they could probably ask them to leave, but that would mean shutting down the airport).

  9. Another Lump Guest

    There are absolutely no clinical trials, and no infection trend data that would show masks are effective, quite the opposite. Infection rates are virtually identical regardless of mask guidance earlier this year. Masks didn't stop anything. They are a pure virtue signaling and power device. The reason is that masks do basically nothing for aerosolized particles, which is how covid is predominantly spreading. If you really think we are in this situation from people catching...

    There are absolutely no clinical trials, and no infection trend data that would show masks are effective, quite the opposite. Infection rates are virtually identical regardless of mask guidance earlier this year. Masks didn't stop anything. They are a pure virtue signaling and power device. The reason is that masks do basically nothing for aerosolized particles, which is how covid is predominantly spreading. If you really think we are in this situation from people catching covid by coughing and sneezing on each other (droplets that masks can be effective in stopping), then you're being willfully ignorant of reality.

    Thankfully some parts of the world haven't completely lost their minds.

    1. Tim Dunn Gold

      absolutely, esp. since the vast majority of people wear non-surgical masks.
      All it takes is a few wise and bold people to begin to change the tide.

    2. Ralph4878 Guest

      Please provide your scientifically-based, peer-reviewed evidence.

    3. Dirk Diggler Guest

      https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/m20-6817

    4. Ralph4878 Guest

      Nope. Read the conclusion - it does not conclude that masks do not work. It concluded that masks did not reduce the spread of COVID "by more than 50%" for individuals in a community that was not complying with general masking. Had they found that masks did not reduce the spread in a community where there had by widespread compliance, that would be telling a different story.

    5. James Buwen Guest

      Actually you are wrong, and only read the authors conclusions,
      The results states:
      Although the difference observed was not statistically significant, the 95% CIs are compatible with a 46% reduction to a 23% increase in infection.

      If you knew how scientific paper work you would be aware that conclusions of studies are biased interpretation of the results.

      Therefor I can also interprete this study to say that wearing a mask increase infection by 23%

  10. Matthew Guest

    The reason why SAS and other Scandinavian airline are lifting the mask policy, is because the have a very high vaccination rate in Scandivia (Denmark more than 75%, Sweden 66%, Norway 69% double vaccinated people), and the nearly stopped all Covid restrictions... I think more countries with high vaccination rate will soon follow.

    1. Anton Wahlman Guest

      Vaccination rates don't matter because the vaccines don't reduce contagion. So vaccines are pointless as far as spreading this bug is concerned.

    2. Wilhelm Guest

      The vaccines stop people from getting seriously ill or dying. Looking at the stats, the vast majority of those ending up in hospital or in a casket are not vaccinated.

    3. Alex Guest

      Anton you are incorrect - even if a vaccinated person gets a breakthrough infection they are less contagious than an unvaccinated person.

  11. Doug Guest

    I hope this is the beginning of the end of these stupid requirements. Cloth masks do absolutely nothing to stop the spread of viruses, as scientific study after study have proven. It is time to end the moronic charade and give people the option to protect themselves however they see fit.

    1. UA-NYC Guest

      Too bad the US has probably the world's highest percentage of anti-vaxxers...we are the mouth breathing capital of the world and all.

  12. geoff Guest

    Biden and his band of morons will likely never lift the ridiculous mask mandate in the US. Pure theater at this point.
    At the every least any proof of vax should exempt travelers. Proof of a negative test should help too. But no, keep wearing these useless cloth masks that are nothing but show at this point.
    "Follow the science"? These clowns couldn't follow the "leader".

    1. Luke Guest

      Theres no national mask mandate, its just CDC's "recommendation". But many places (particularly blue states) have made it into their state law mandate, which i'm sick of where theres been zero convincing proof of how it helps the vaccinated besides perhaps helping prevent transmission to those who refused to be vaccinated who I dont give a hoot about.

      Kiss my mask!

    2. geoff Guest

      I meant at airports and on aircraft, my bad for not specifying.

    3. UA-NYC Guest

      Agreed about proof of vax, but the right-wing mouth breathing Republicans would lose their sh!t more than they already have, impossible as it seems.

  13. Jan Guest

    Hey look, a scandinavian based airline following the science

  14. view Guest

    Actually, start-up Flyr was first in Scandinavia to announce drop of face masks, followed by Norwegian, Widerøe and lastly SAS. Competition, once one airline drops it the others follow. Europe next.

    1. Samo Guest

      Flyr wasn't the first in Scandinavia, only in Norway. Air Leap and BRA removed mask mandates on 1st July.

  15. Jumpseatflyer Guest

    Scandinavia accepted covid as a regular life-risk, which is very obvious when in Scandinavia. I was in Sweden around 2 months ago and covid is almost unnoticeable. No masks, no nothing... not even in shops or public transportat. Not even staff is wearing them. From that point of view, the decision only makes sense as planes are just another form of public transport.

    As for when other countries / airlines may lift the mandate, I...

    Scandinavia accepted covid as a regular life-risk, which is very obvious when in Scandinavia. I was in Sweden around 2 months ago and covid is almost unnoticeable. No masks, no nothing... not even in shops or public transportat. Not even staff is wearing them. From that point of view, the decision only makes sense as planes are just another form of public transport.

    As for when other countries / airlines may lift the mandate, I believe it could take a very long time. Some countries are still in lockdown mode with closed borders etc, so it seems highly unlikely anytime soon. Also, it depends on how the vaccination programs progress and many local factors.

    1. Bubba Guest

      Sweden's record for handling COVID has not been stellar, especially early on, when they basically sacrificed the elderly.
      Denmark, on the other hand was the first to implement a COVID-passport system, requiring proof of vaccination/negative test for many activities. Aggressive testing and very high vaccination rates have done much to minimize the spread. So, Denmark gets to be one of the first to remove masking mandates, because they worked.
      Going maskless on airplanes?...

      Sweden's record for handling COVID has not been stellar, especially early on, when they basically sacrificed the elderly.
      Denmark, on the other hand was the first to implement a COVID-passport system, requiring proof of vaccination/negative test for many activities. Aggressive testing and very high vaccination rates have done much to minimize the spread. So, Denmark gets to be one of the first to remove masking mandates, because they worked.
      Going maskless on airplanes? Yes please. Just get the virus under control first.

  16. Greg Guest

    Good for them a pragmatic approach - now get on board EU and USA

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Another Lump Guest

There are absolutely no clinical trials, and no infection trend data that would show masks are effective, quite the opposite. Infection rates are virtually identical regardless of mask guidance earlier this year. Masks didn't stop anything. They are a pure virtue signaling and power device. The reason is that masks do basically nothing for aerosolized particles, which is how covid is predominantly spreading. If you really think we are in this situation from people catching covid by coughing and sneezing on each other (droplets that masks can be effective in stopping), then you're being willfully ignorant of reality. Thankfully some parts of the world haven't completely lost their minds.

5
Jan Guest

Hey look, a scandinavian based airline following the science

4
Anton Wahlman Guest

Vaccination rates don't matter because the vaccines don't reduce contagion. So vaccines are pointless as far as spreading this bug is concerned.

3
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