Will Masks Be Required On Airplanes Forever?

Will Masks Be Required On Airplanes Forever?

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While I think the mask mandate on planes and at airports has made a lot of sense during the pandemic (and continues to make sense, until things are more under control), I can’t help but wonder when it will be lifted… if at all.

Airline safety policies are often added, rarely reversed

When you look at the pain points of airline travel, it’s interesting the extent to which some policies have been introduced in the name of safety, but have never been undone. There are some changes that absolutely make sense, like reinforced cockpit doors, which are an easy, permanent solution, that don’t inconvenience anyone.

But then look at some of the other policies in the airline industry that are more questionable:

  • We’re still not allowed to take liquids of over 100ml through security, out of fear that they might be explosive
  • We’re still (for the most part) required to take our shoes off at airport security, because in 2001 there was an attempted “shoe bomber”
  • We’re still not allowed to “congregate” near bathrooms, exits, or lavatories, on US-bound flights, out of fear that we might be coordinating some sort of an attack on the plane
  • Whenever a pilot uses the bathroom, a cart needs to be set up to block the way

Heck, forget safety for a moment, and just look at airline fuel surcharges. They were added when oil prices spiked, but have never been eliminated, even when oil prices were at an all-time low.

The point is, I can’t think of many policy changes in the airline industry that were added and then later undone.

Masks could be helpful long-term, but at what cost?

Coronavirus has taught me a lot about health and human interaction in general. To some extent the way I interact with humans will probably never be the same. For example:

  • I have a hard time imagining going to a social event where there are dozens of people you’re expected to hug and talk to in close proximity
  • Having gotten the flu a few years back on a trip to Asia, I have a new appreciation for how this was probably preventable to some extent
  • I have a new appreciation for the outdoors, maintaining distance, etc.

As I always say, I’m an introvert, so in some ways coronavirus hasn’t been as tough on me as on others. If I never have to awkwardly hug someone again or have unnecessary small talk with strangers at some sort of a social event, I’d be absolutely delighted.

Anyway, that’s a bit of a tangent. Specific to airlines, at what point could we actually realistically expect an airplane mask mandate to be lifted?

  • It seems highly unlikely that coronavirus will ever fully die out, so is it once we’re at the point where annual coronavirus deaths are less than average flu deaths, or at some other point?
  • Even if we’re at that point, with the new knowledge we have, isn’t there merit to wearing masks on planes, at least during flu season (we’ve seen some people do this in Asia for years)? There does seem to be some potential upside in terms of saving lives, at least in comparison to liquids and shoe restrictions, no?
  • As good as air filtration is on planes, there aren’t any public spaces I can think of where you’re forced to sit so close to a stranger for such a long period of time

To be clear, I hope that masks aren’t required on planes forever. Personally I don’t think the mask mandate will be lifted in the coming months (I’d be shocked if it’s lifted in 2021), though I think it could be within a couple of years. Then again, I can’t help but wonder if this will just be another policy that the airline industry keeps in place forever, as with so many policies that came before this.

Bottom line

At this point wearing masks on airplanes has become the norm, and it’s something travelers have gotten used to. That’s good during the pandemic, though I think we’re all hoping that the mask mandate is eventually lifted.

That being said, I can’t help but wonder if it’s here to stay forever. I’d argue that there’s more upside in terms of saving lives with a mask mandate on planes than with liquids and shoe restrictions, yet those have stuck around for a couple of decades now.

And to be clear, that’s not to say that I think the mask mandate should stick around forever, but rather that it has more relative merit than some of the other policies that have stuck around.

I could see myself voluntarily wearing a mask in the future when flying during flu season, but I don’t think it should be mandated forever.

What do you think — could a mask mandate become a permanent aspect of flying, or at what point do you think it will be lifted?

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  1. Elisa Lazier

    In case they will never lift the mask mandate I will never ever again be able to fly because I have severe phobia of masks. That would be very sad for me because I love flying and airplanes, then I really hope that, once we are all vaccinated and Covid 19 is not pestering us all anymore, masks will be no more required. I am really looking forward to flying again.

  2. Lastmate

    There is little doubt in my mind that masks will be required on aircraft, in airports and likewise on all ground transportation....forever...within the US and on any transportation originating and terminating in the US. Furthermore I foresee the ban on any service of alcoholic beverages in any class of service with and to and from the US....again on a permanent basis. It's part of the totalitarian regime.

  3. Martin

    I too personally do not want to fly again until mask wearing is not compulsory. Its just the thought of being on a long haul flight wearing one for the duration of the journey, just doesn't do it, not part of my holiday I'm afraid!

  4. Erik

    Remember when they repealed the Patriot Act and dismantled the thuggish gauntlet we have to screen through to get to our flights?

    It is heartening that the government uses restrictive measures with precision and returns relinquished freedoms once we are out of harms way.

    I am sure masks will follow the same path.

    Next stop on this path is a flight safety device to assure good passenger behavior. It will be worn in suppository...

    Remember when they repealed the Patriot Act and dismantled the thuggish gauntlet we have to screen through to get to our flights?

    It is heartening that the government uses restrictive measures with precision and returns relinquished freedoms once we are out of harms way.

    I am sure masks will follow the same path.

    Next stop on this path is a flight safety device to assure good passenger behavior. It will be worn in suppository form factor and if you are a good dog they might let you remove it for 5 minutes per flight to use the Lav.

  5. Debra Coppola

    I am vaccinated so why should I be forced to be smothered!!!!!

  6. Scarlett Rice

    I wouldn't have such a problem with masks for adults, but children under the age of 6 should not be forced to wear a mask for hours on end. They are just too young to appreciate the reason behind such a requirement. You can't get a toddler to keep their shoes on if they don't want to, but you honestly expect a toddler to comply with a mask mandate for 5, 6, 7, 8 straight hours?!

  7. Tom

    I will never take a flight that requires mask wearing.

  8. Lynn Glock

    Stupidest bunch of crap ever. So airplanes and airports wear a mask. Why did I get vaccinated? Attendants telling us to sip and replace your mask, take a bite and replace your mask. I know where they can put all their masks!

  9. Jackson L

    @Mask Hater Dude that’s insane. Do you have any idea how impractical that is? The current deadline for when the current federal mandate expires at the moment is mid September. Things are looking good for the US at the moment, so I think it is entirely possible that masks are lifted on airlines by this time next year. This pessimism is not helpful at all.

  10. Paul

    I as well will not fly until the mask mandate is off airlines and airports. This is at best ridiculous and not protecting anyone! If a person is so vulnerable that they may get sick on a plane. They should not be flying. We know that there is nothing but lies coming out of the media and the government wants to control and manipulate your thinking. This is not just happening with a mask. Many...

    I as well will not fly until the mask mandate is off airlines and airports. This is at best ridiculous and not protecting anyone! If a person is so vulnerable that they may get sick on a plane. They should not be flying. We know that there is nothing but lies coming out of the media and the government wants to control and manipulate your thinking. This is not just happening with a mask. Many businesses feel they can control what their customers want to wear during sporting events and people capitulate and give up their rights and their money without a fight. Well, not me!!! I will help the airlines and the entertainment and sporting events go out of business and not spend the money!

  11. Judi C. Culver

    Like many other respondents, I will not be flying again until the mask mandate is lifted. We are not alone. Somewhere, I ran across a survey by a major cruise line of previous passengers who had not travelled since the mask mandate was established. A whopping 67% of respondents said they would not travel on a cruise again if masks were required!! How long can airlines and cruise ships afford to eliminate a good proportion...

    Like many other respondents, I will not be flying again until the mask mandate is lifted. We are not alone. Somewhere, I ran across a survey by a major cruise line of previous passengers who had not travelled since the mask mandate was established. A whopping 67% of respondents said they would not travel on a cruise again if masks were required!! How long can airlines and cruise ships afford to eliminate a good proportion of their paying and freedom loving customers?

    Oh, and BTW, regarding comments about comorbidity. . .I also ran across some statistics indicating that in-hospital deaths from stroke and heart disease are way down over the past year. It seems that's because covid is listed as the cause of death, even when patients are critically ill with comorbidity factors.

  12. DS

    Americans are something. Do you guys understand science? Do you read the actual CDC studies and their details? Once 70% of the public is vaccinated the numbers will be extremely low. In some states they already are sitting at 3/100k (California) cases. We are already dropping week to week in nearly every state regardless of policies.

    In a few months we SHOULD be done with all major mask mandates, including planes. Though if vaccinated...

    Americans are something. Do you guys understand science? Do you read the actual CDC studies and their details? Once 70% of the public is vaccinated the numbers will be extremely low. In some states they already are sitting at 3/100k (California) cases. We are already dropping week to week in nearly every state regardless of policies.

    In a few months we SHOULD be done with all major mask mandates, including planes. Though if vaccinated people keep wearing them to virtue signal this will never end. And the Left will use it the way the Right did in other ways. This isn't political though. During a pandemic, inside shared public spaces masks helped, but duration and age mattered even more in terms of risk.

    Outside and once vaccinated the public has no reason to mask up. And stop with the "bbbbbut what about the variants???!!!" The major vaccines so far have been proven in real world (non clinical trial) situations to cover all the variants in preventing a LETHAL or SEVERE (i.e. HOSPITALIZATION) case of Covid. Understand viral loads and risk and you will not be so scared.

    You can't eliminate illness forever and trying to do so is a fool's errand.

    Oh PS - for people like me that have been to China and Asia many times, most people there wore masks on bad air pollution days. They didn't wear them to show how much they watched CNN.

  13. Mask Hater

    The mask mandates will never end. They will end in other parts of the world, but only in the United States will we keep wearing masks on planes.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2021/04/22/healthy-flights-act/

    This bill is being made to keep the mandates forever. They will consider the flu an outbreak, even a small cold outbreak will be considered like COVID-19.

    There is no going back. COVID-19 is the new 911.

    1. Tom

      I live in the U.K.and unfortunately have no doubt that we will have as much difficulty in getting rid of masks as you. We are still being force fed the fear agenda and I feel that getting my two jabs has been a complete waste of time. I have never been particularly concerned about the virus, more so the restrictions. Our government has been even worse than yours for continually moving the goalposts

  14. C.P.

    If America does not end all mask mandates, it will result in people eventually not wanting to keep wearing them anymore. We have to have an end to them sooner or later. Thank you.

  15. zagman1112

    @cargocult I agree with you 100%. There are so many dangerous health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes linked to being obese. A lot more lives would be saved in America by focusing on promoting healthy lifestyles than by shoving masks on healthy people. And I agree about the body acceptance movement. I agree with one aspect of the movement in that you should not hate yourself because you are overweight. I wholeheartedly disagree...

    @cargocult I agree with you 100%. There are so many dangerous health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes linked to being obese. A lot more lives would be saved in America by focusing on promoting healthy lifestyles than by shoving masks on healthy people. And I agree about the body acceptance movement. I agree with one aspect of the movement in that you should not hate yourself because you are overweight. I wholeheartedly disagree with the main facet of the movement which says that your body is perfect no matter what. I doubt that there are many doctors that would tell someone that being 100 pounds overweight is ok. They would tell you that you need to maintain a healthy diet and exercise and fix the issue immediately. Being obese is extremely bad for you and yet so many people seem to promote it as being just fine.

  16. cargocult

    A permanent mask mandate would be lunacy and I highly doubt most people would tolerate it. Anyone who finds comfort in such a policy needs to seek psychiatric help for mysophobia and/or clinical authoritarianism. The greatest threat to public health is the obesity epidemic and obesity is socially contagious (according to the results of a study by Harvard and UCSD researchers published in the New England Journal of Medicine). If obesity is contagious, should we...

    A permanent mask mandate would be lunacy and I highly doubt most people would tolerate it. Anyone who finds comfort in such a policy needs to seek psychiatric help for mysophobia and/or clinical authoritarianism. The greatest threat to public health is the obesity epidemic and obesity is socially contagious (according to the results of a study by Harvard and UCSD researchers published in the New England Journal of Medicine). If obesity is contagious, should we be mandating the muzzling of overeaters? The overwhelming majority of people who die from COVID-19 are old and/or fat. Contrary to what the fat acceptance movement would have you believe, people are NOT healthy at any weight. Age cannot be helped; fatness, on the other hand...

  17. Mark Smith

    I'm AA platinum and stopped flying, but not out of fear. I echo the fellow who said it all : I’m not flying anywhere until mask requirement is removed. I will burn my miles on something else.

  18. David R

    Gosh I hope not. There are few things that would make me want to fly less, or try to drive rather than fly. This is one.

  19. Rikki

    My neighbor is a flight attendant and whenever we see him he is complaining and lamenting that he cannot wait until the mandate is over because enforcing it is the worst part of his job. I can see the unions taking a strong stand.

  20. Parent_Wanting_to_Fly

    I hope the airline mask mandate goes away soon. Being military, we happen to be stationed / live 2,700 miles away from family. Unfortunately, we've avoided any travel to visit family in the last year because we don't think our 2 year old will wear a mask for a 4-5 hour flight. (Especially after reading horror stories of parents getting kicked off flights for their young kids not wearing masks.) Please make masks recommended instead...

    I hope the airline mask mandate goes away soon. Being military, we happen to be stationed / live 2,700 miles away from family. Unfortunately, we've avoided any travel to visit family in the last year because we don't think our 2 year old will wear a mask for a 4-5 hour flight. (Especially after reading horror stories of parents getting kicked off flights for their young kids not wearing masks.) Please make masks recommended instead of mandatory as soon as possible, especially for kids.

  21. Bon Dohrman

    Unfortunately I feel like the mask will never leave, we will be required to wear it at any public gathering, plane, train, bus. We are screwed.

  22. Tim Dunn

    Kevin,
    the argument that flu cases are down because of social distancing and lockdowns defies data that shows that a small minority (less than 10% in many states) of hospitalized covid patients in the winter of 2020-21 had received the flu vaccine in the fall.

    There is a good likelihood that there is either cross immunity between covid and the flu.

    It will be interesting to see what happens to flu cases in...

    Kevin,
    the argument that flu cases are down because of social distancing and lockdowns defies data that shows that a small minority (less than 10% in many states) of hospitalized covid patients in the winter of 2020-21 had received the flu vaccine in the fall.

    There is a good likelihood that there is either cross immunity between covid and the flu.

    It will be interesting to see what happens to flu cases in the winter of 2021-22.

    It is not a given that healthy humans need to protect themselves from normally infectious respiratory diseases.

    and the root underlying reasons for comorbidities for covid need to be addressed esp. in the US because they are risk factors for other diseases as well as degrade health by themselves.

  23. Chris

    Wouldn’t be surprised to see airlines find a way to monetize. Just like many people got TSA precheck to keep on their shoes, leave their laptops in their bags, etc.

    I’m sure airlines will figure out a way to get people to pay for the “privilege” to not wear their mask - special “mask free” seating areas on the plane with proof of a negative test and/or vaccination record, etc. How much would you pay...

    Wouldn’t be surprised to see airlines find a way to monetize. Just like many people got TSA precheck to keep on their shoes, leave their laptops in their bags, etc.

    I’m sure airlines will figure out a way to get people to pay for the “privilege” to not wear their mask - special “mask free” seating areas on the plane with proof of a negative test and/or vaccination record, etc. How much would you pay for a vaccine passport and the privilege to not wear a mask and receive a higher service level offering? I’m guessing at least a few airlines have asked this question.

    It sounds crazy, but so I’m sure so did special security lines or some of the other compromises and a la crate options that exist in travel today. Think about how many people pay $15 to get on a Southwest flight early. Crazy idea 30 years ago, but makes them a lot of money today.

    I’m not suggesting I like or support this idea, just saying I’m sure it’s been discussed by some in the industry.

  24. Tara Jenner

    As someone with breathing difficulties when air flow is restricted, I can't wait for the mask mandate on planes to be a thing of the past. I last maybe 3 or 5 minutes before my exercise induced asthma kicks in and then I either need to remove the mask or I pass out and it needs to be removed for me. Once the exemorercise induced asthma kicks in it usually takes about 30 minutes to...

    As someone with breathing difficulties when air flow is restricted, I can't wait for the mask mandate on planes to be a thing of the past. I last maybe 3 or 5 minutes before my exercise induced asthma kicks in and then I either need to remove the mask or I pass out and it needs to be removed for me. Once the exemorercise induced asthma kicks in it usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour before my breathing regulates again. During that time I am wheezing and breathing hard as if I am dry land drowning. To do that and repeat the process over and over during a flight seems insane and counter productive. Can I mention the monumental headache I get after such an episode! So I haven't been able to fly anywhere and a medical exemption that seems reasonable according to ADA means squat to the airlines or to those who are adverse to me not having a mask on. There are other medical and
    justifiable reasons that people can't wear a mask too. A permanent mandate would significantly limit our travel options. If people want to wear a mask I never question it or judge. Wish people would give the same consideration to those who can't.

  25. Fred M

    Alpha Golf: And at least one of the three crew of the Turkish Airlines 737 ploughed into the ground short of Schipol. He was seen apparently alive thru the windows but first responders could not get thru the cockpit door. By the time firefighters axed thru the roof, the man was dead.

  26. Gary

    Masks and social distancing are not in human nature. Regardless of how the "experts" would like humans to behavior, people are not going to where masks or gather socially until that are scared to death. The problem with scaring people to death is that it only works effectively one time and then... Well, scaring people becomes a very inefficient and expensive solution to a method of crowd control.

    So, airlines will require masks until it...

    Masks and social distancing are not in human nature. Regardless of how the "experts" would like humans to behavior, people are not going to where masks or gather socially until that are scared to death. The problem with scaring people to death is that it only works effectively one time and then... Well, scaring people becomes a very inefficient and expensive solution to a method of crowd control.

    So, airlines will require masks until it costs too much to enforce. In other words, until requiring masks hits their bottom lines. I expect that we will see that in Q4/2021 or Q1/2022.

  27. KMAN

    Y'all pretending those masks are such a burden to wear.
    Any of y'all who've been to Asia will know masks are a cultural thing there and lots of people just wear them out of habit, even in non-polluted areas.
    Our Western world suffers tremendously by putting a fricking mask on our faces, it's like we are practically forced to wear a crown of thorns, for God's sake

  28. Tony Tormenta

    If the airlines allow fully seated passenger planes without maintain distant like supposedly " scientifically required "
    then mask is not necessarily need it.
    it's time to stop this craziness that they wants us to believe will
    keep us safe. besides we are making our own immune system weak without let him do the work of protect our bodies.

  29. Michael M

    Given the continued emergence of variants and the potential for the appearance of strains, the time lag between these happening and determining vaccine efficacy, and determining how long vaccines are effective in real-world conditions, it seems quite likely that mask-wearing will continue to be required until all of these issues are resolved. For example, if a new variant or strain emerges that requires a booster, then masks would be a necessity until that becomes available...

    Given the continued emergence of variants and the potential for the appearance of strains, the time lag between these happening and determining vaccine efficacy, and determining how long vaccines are effective in real-world conditions, it seems quite likely that mask-wearing will continue to be required until all of these issues are resolved. For example, if a new variant or strain emerges that requires a booster, then masks would be a necessity until that becomes available to all. Mask mandates are likely to be in place at least through next year. Wearing a mask on a plane really is no big deal.

  30. Eugene

    Winston is probably like "the things I do for extra belly rubs and treats sometimes..."

  31. Philip Elliott

    Hi Ben,
    Which airline will be first to include cute hello kitty airline branded face masks in amenity kits? Will we see travel bloggers of the future doing big giveaways of airline masks so those of us on the ground look as if we fly? Or will flying somewhere become a necessary nuisance and lose instagram value? Would that be the end of social influencers promoting airlines? If I get a Chinese vaccination, could...

    Hi Ben,
    Which airline will be first to include cute hello kitty airline branded face masks in amenity kits? Will we see travel bloggers of the future doing big giveaways of airline masks so those of us on the ground look as if we fly? Or will flying somewhere become a necessary nuisance and lose instagram value? Would that be the end of social influencers promoting airlines? If I get a Chinese vaccination, could I fly in USA as that vaccine isn’t recognised there and vice versa? How and when can governments add a vaccine levy to airline tickets? And a mask checker security levy to tickets?

  32. Kevin

    Since there is some confusion here:

    1) The absence of flu this year is due to a global, massive shutdown in social interaction, not because of mask wearing. Masks are helpful on the margin, but they are not the reason the flu (and the cold) is limited this year. This isn't an anti-mask comment - Covid transmits presymptomatically and is particularly dangerous, so it's a very different context from flu/cold.

    2) In Asia, where I...

    Since there is some confusion here:

    1) The absence of flu this year is due to a global, massive shutdown in social interaction, not because of mask wearing. Masks are helpful on the margin, but they are not the reason the flu (and the cold) is limited this year. This isn't an anti-mask comment - Covid transmits presymptomatically and is particularly dangerous, so it's a very different context from flu/cold.

    2) In Asia, where I lived briefly in the mid-2000s and have traveled extensively, no one ever wore masks if they didn't have symptoms of disease. It was, in some parts of Asia, considered polite to wear a mask if you had a cold. But that's it.

    3) Hugging people, small talk at a bar, and general social interaction is a fundamental aspect of human existence and happiness. The world is more likely to be Summer of '67 as vaccines are widely available then continued isolation. I would not be surprised if summer travel is *higher* than normal overall, restaurants are busier, and so on. It goes without saying, but "people who write many internet comments" are a particularly risk-averse and introverted group which is not representative of the world at large...

  33. K.C. Cooper

    A few things:
    1. The CDC mask order for transportation automatically ends upon termination of the public health emergency declaration. The mask order could be revoked or loosened (e.g. international only) prior to this, though. In airports, mask mandates would remain until both the CDC order and any applicable state/local orders end. (Many states and localities have lifted their mask mandates.) There are potential legal issues for the CDC order, especially after the federal...

    A few things:
    1. The CDC mask order for transportation automatically ends upon termination of the public health emergency declaration. The mask order could be revoked or loosened (e.g. international only) prior to this, though. In airports, mask mandates would remain until both the CDC order and any applicable state/local orders end. (Many states and localities have lifted their mask mandates.) There are potential legal issues for the CDC order, especially after the federal eviction moratorium was held invalid, but that’s a discussion for another time.
    2. Permanent mask mandates are a terrible idea that shouldn’t ever come to fruition.
    3. I’m actually surprised that airlines haven’t added a COVID-19 liability waiver to the Conditions of Carriage. For an example of a COVID-19 liability waiver, see: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/park-pass-terms
    This particular one covers other communicable/infectious diseases too.

  34. Pamela

    I started flying with the arrival of the jet age. I truly miss the "extras" that made the experience something to look forward to. As long as they don't ban dresses, heels and makeup, I guess I will get by. But talking to a seat mate through a mask, just destroys the social ambience. Pamela

  35. Cedric

    I wear a mask whenever required but I will be very happy to stop wearing it in due time. I think you will see policies change to “strongly suggest”, then “feel free to wear a mask”. I do expect some people to keep wearing masks forever. The bigger issue is the vaccines passport. I just wonder how US citizens are going to be able to travel to Asia and Australia in the next few years if they can’t provide proof of the jab.

  36. Johan

    Don't be joking, it's already unenforced in here. On ARN-MSQ flights it's max 30% of the pax that are wearing masks.

    There's no evidence that masks work - just compare results of Spain with Sweden.

  37. WorldTraveler312

    Yes. For the next 8 years.

  38. Kathleen

    I'm with @Mark F and others re: hoping/expecting that voluntary mask wearing becomes more commonplace and acceptable. In addition to helping avoid flu & other respiratory diseases, I've found it helps keeps the pollen out too.

    @Lucky, like you I'm an introvert and haven't found COVID isolation difficult. That said, the first trip I've planned post-vaccination is a literary conference (for fun, not work) in October, that in pre-COVID times attracted ~700 attendees. I do...

    I'm with @Mark F and others re: hoping/expecting that voluntary mask wearing becomes more commonplace and acceptable. In addition to helping avoid flu & other respiratory diseases, I've found it helps keeps the pollen out too.

    @Lucky, like you I'm an introvert and haven't found COVID isolation difficult. That said, the first trip I've planned post-vaccination is a literary conference (for fun, not work) in October, that in pre-COVID times attracted ~700 attendees. I do like to shake hands and hug friends I only see once a year at this event - I'm curious how the interactions will go, and what the vibe will be like.

  39. zagman1112

    Come on, are you crazy Ben? This pandemic will end just like all the other ones did. We are not going to have mask mandates forever, even medical experts know and say that. This coronavirus garbage has made people insane. Once mandates are lifted I will never wear a mask again. I am vaccinated so wearing a mask now is only for the purpose of being able to enter a business according to local rules....

    Come on, are you crazy Ben? This pandemic will end just like all the other ones did. We are not going to have mask mandates forever, even medical experts know and say that. This coronavirus garbage has made people insane. Once mandates are lifted I will never wear a mask again. I am vaccinated so wearing a mask now is only for the purpose of being able to enter a business according to local rules. There is no scientific reason for me to be wearing one. I swear some people want this corona nonsense to last forever. If you want to wear a mask on a plane forever go ahead. We all have an immune system for a reason.

  40. pho tastee

    I will continue to use the mask even when the requirement is lifted. I will not be the racist uncivilized selfish jerks like most Right-Wing nutjob.

  41. Jack

    @D3kingg The pandemic definitely isn't over anywhere. It will be in the US probably in a few more weeks (as we are very near every adult American being able to get vaccinated) but in the rest of the world, we're looking at later summer or longer.

    I think mask rules will reflect that. In the US I'd be surprised if mask mandates for air travel are still around by the summer. Globally, I'm sure they'll persist into next year. It will depend on the countries involved.

  42. D3kingg

    The pandemic has been over for weeks. No more masks.

    But what about the science ?
    Common man.

  43. Nate nate

    My guess is that it will probably be like turning off small electronic devices during take off and landing -- while it was a federal mandate for a long time, it wasn't really enforced. I personally plan on wearing a mask on a plan for a long time, especially since the biggest annoyance for me is around the ears (which is easily solved).

    I also like to see mouth masks replace eye masks in amenity kits. Surprised it hasn't happened yet.

  44. Marc

    I can't see masks lasting once the disease becomes endemic. Imagine using pictured of masked travelers to sell the great experience of flying on your airline: Nobody can smile, be shown eating amazing food in first class, or sipping on cocktails.

    While it's useful during a pandemic to show all the precautions your airline takes to keep travelers safe, once the crisis ends. it has the opposite effect. The message becomes, "We're not sure...

    I can't see masks lasting once the disease becomes endemic. Imagine using pictured of masked travelers to sell the great experience of flying on your airline: Nobody can smile, be shown eating amazing food in first class, or sipping on cocktails.

    While it's useful during a pandemic to show all the precautions your airline takes to keep travelers safe, once the crisis ends. it has the opposite effect. The message becomes, "We're not sure if the air is safe on our planes, so for everyone's safety, please keep your mask on."

    No thanks.

  45. The Original Donna

    My reading of the tea leaves is that the mandate will be removed in January 2022. Even though I’m low risk and vaccinated, I’ve been on many flights surrounded by coughing people so I will continue to carry a mask on board and use it well into the future if I feel the situation dictates it. Why tempt fate?

  46. S

    Agree with others that there will be an increasing amount of very ugly incidents if masks are required on planes/in airports for much longer than maybe this autumn (and even past this summer maybe). Good or bad, many people, possibly a majority of travelers, simply will not be OK with it.

  47. Samo

    Out of those 4 examples, only one applies to Europe and most of the world outside the US. It might be the same with masks. There may be regions / airlines where they remain a thing, but the requirement will be removed in most of the world. Airlines are bleeding money over this and many people will continue to choose another modes of transportation while the requirement exists. Restrictions will go away, all of them,...

    Out of those 4 examples, only one applies to Europe and most of the world outside the US. It might be the same with masks. There may be regions / airlines where they remain a thing, but the requirement will be removed in most of the world. Airlines are bleeding money over this and many people will continue to choose another modes of transportation while the requirement exists. Restrictions will go away, all of them, it's a matter of months until enough people are vaccinated.

    Mask mandates are pushed by certain part of the population that is very worried about catching covid. Once they are protected, they will no longer create a demand for this kind of policy.

    Personally, I'm not getting on a plane as long as it exists. If I'm indeed wrong and the requirement remains, I won't ever fly again. I'm happy taking train trips around a mask-free country I'm staying in :)

  48. Aaron

    It seems every few years, there is some sort of global disease. Think bird flu, swine flu, ebola, as of late. These diseases came and went, and we didn't pay much attention to them (relative to the attention we give to covid). Anyway, after covid is no longer a pandemic, there will be some new disease arise we'll have to worry about it, and it will be back to mask wearing. So it seems we'll be a in perpetual state of mask wearing due to new diseases manifesting.

  49. Brian L.

    I agree with Hugh Edwards, although I'm skeptical about his time frame. Once the numbers drop to a certain level and other restrictions are lifted, this one will be too. If it's not, you'll see A LOT more mask incidents.

  50. B

    There is a distinct difference between security policies implemented in order to prevent a terrorist attack (and largely U.S. specific) and a request for PPE due to a transient pandemic. The biggest difference is that the former is government mandated and the latter only became government mandated within the last couple months....after close to a year with Corona.

    I'm perfectly okay with all the measures possible so I don't get blown up on a...

    There is a distinct difference between security policies implemented in order to prevent a terrorist attack (and largely U.S. specific) and a request for PPE due to a transient pandemic. The biggest difference is that the former is government mandated and the latter only became government mandated within the last couple months....after close to a year with Corona.

    I'm perfectly okay with all the measures possible so I don't get blown up on a plane. I will, however, gladly take my chances of getting an illness with a near zero mortality rate for those that are vaccinated (and we have herd immunity). I could see the personal preference for wearing a mask forever. As you point out, there are upsides. I just don't think it's justifiable to maintain the requirement for all once the pandemic is over.

  51. Quo Vadis?

    @Lucky -- Can hardly recognize Winston with the mask on, lol. :-)

    Hope he didn't put up too much of a fuss.

  52. Tim Dunn

    Mask requirements say that the environment is unsafe. Airlines cannot continue to project that image while trying to rebuild their business.

    Most significant in the rationale for not keeping mask mandates is that officials in Michigan are saying that they have yet to hospitalize a vaccinated person even with their spike.
    It is more likely that airlines will be able to require unvaccinated passengers sign a waiver as the onus of responsibility shifts...

    Mask requirements say that the environment is unsafe. Airlines cannot continue to project that image while trying to rebuild their business.

    Most significant in the rationale for not keeping mask mandates is that officials in Michigan are saying that they have yet to hospitalize a vaccinated person even with their spike.
    It is more likely that airlines will be able to require unvaccinated passengers sign a waiver as the onus of responsibility shifts back to individuals rather than group requirements.

  53. Bill

    Covid cases and hospitalizations are increasing in the US as it looks like we are moving into a fourth surge, so talking about getting rid of the mask mandate seems rather premature. If enough people take the vaccine and we get the country under control the mask mandate will be removed. This is in no way comparable to the other regulations you mentioned that deal with terrorism. The real question is will people do what...

    Covid cases and hospitalizations are increasing in the US as it looks like we are moving into a fourth surge, so talking about getting rid of the mask mandate seems rather premature. If enough people take the vaccine and we get the country under control the mask mandate will be removed. This is in no way comparable to the other regulations you mentioned that deal with terrorism. The real question is will people do what is necessary to get covid under control. Unfortunately there are a number of anti-vaxxer, anti-mask, anti-science people in the US that may keep the pandemic going with their refusal to take even the minimal steps necessary to avoid the spread. Best thing that could happen is if airlines only allowed vaccinated people to fly. No reason a plane full of vaccinated people would need to wear masks once the case count comes down.

  54. Luke

    @Tom, but this like fuel surcharges can and does make money too indirectly by having the excuse for limited service and lack of food/alcohol. So more profit margins for the airlines to not have those costs.

    Of course this is assuming all airlines follow the policies uniformly as competition would kick in if one airline starts deviating to re-offer these.

  55. Tina

    I personally think it would be advantageous for airlines to keep the mask mandate. Not only is it healthier and sanitary. Flying international on flights 6-18 hours on a flight, people sleep with their mouths open exposing everyone to their bad breath as well as there colds, flu and every other transmissible illness. They can always remove there mask to eat, drink And brush their teeth.
    It’s the most logical thing to do.

  56. Alonzo

    I flew from STL-PHL yesterday. Woman in front of me with a small child had her mask off for 95% of the 2 hr flight while making faces at her crying child. Not one FA said anything. Mask mandates will be in place for all of 2021 and part of 2022 imo. If I only have to wear it on planes and nowhere else starting in 2022, I'm cool with it.

  57. Hugh Edwards

    Give me a break. The US will be down to 200 or so COVID deaths per day in a month. Same as flu deaths. No mask rules can be justified at that point. This will end this summer, and if it doesn't, you're going to start to see much more serious resistance.

  58. Tom

    The fuel surcharge is because they can make money. The mask policy does not generate income and as you said once mask mandates are lifted by health officials then it becomes a competitive advantage to offer a mask optional policy on airlines. If some airlines do not lift their own police, I can tell you MILLIONS of people (once vaccinated) around the world will opt to fly airlines where they can sleep in comfort without...

    The fuel surcharge is because they can make money. The mask policy does not generate income and as you said once mask mandates are lifted by health officials then it becomes a competitive advantage to offer a mask optional policy on airlines. If some airlines do not lift their own police, I can tell you MILLIONS of people (once vaccinated) around the world will opt to fly airlines where they can sleep in comfort without a mask instead of flying these nonsensical virtue signaling airlines. This will undoubtable result in a hit to the wallet and then all other airlines will fall inline. In short, no, the mask policy will not be forever because it just won't make $en$e.

  59. Alpha Golf

    "like reinforced cockpit doors, which are an easy, permanent solution, that don’t inconvenience anyone."

    You can make a good argument that reinforced cockpit doors have killed two planeloads of people (Helios and Germanwings). So far.

  60. AlanD

    I think that many passengers will wear a mask voluntarily for a long time, it could be a decade or two before we see the behavior return to pre-COVID. I also foresee seasonal masking requirements in more than just aviation. While masking only seems to go so far in terms of preventing COVID transmission, look at how small of a flu season the northern hemisphere had this winter with not much greater flu vaccination than...

    I think that many passengers will wear a mask voluntarily for a long time, it could be a decade or two before we see the behavior return to pre-COVID. I also foresee seasonal masking requirements in more than just aviation. While masking only seems to go so far in terms of preventing COVID transmission, look at how small of a flu season the northern hemisphere had this winter with not much greater flu vaccination than other years. I wouldn't be surprised to see masks required in a lot of places from October to March every year going forward. The difference will be that other social distancing measures etc. won't be around. I also don't think they'll be required as rigidly as right now.

  61. Santastico

    @RCB: Is your family doing well? Have you had your barbiturate prescription this morning?

  62. David

    I mean, people use them like chin straps and elbow bands even during a pandemic, I don’t think this is gonna stick around de facto. Still I think more people will wear a mask than pre pandemic, and it’ll be more socially acceptable, which is a good thing for everyone, whether or not you wear it personally.

  63. derek

    It will go away. However. For many years, it will be possible to wear a mask without being thought of as a weirdo.

  64. Nelson

    @ The nice Paul,
    Thanks for enlightning. I had it on a departure in LIS. Due to this actual Corona I was grounded since FEB2020 while in years before I travelled an average of 400k miles a year and was always anywhere asked to remove it, so I have no big experience since FEB2020 since this was the only flight I took in the last big year.

  65. Jumpseatflyer

    I personally do not believe that it will stay forever, whatever that may mean. At least not generally speaking.

    1. Mask mandates are predominately government requirements and many airlines were very reluctant to introduce them in the beginning. Without the regulatory part, it's a question of customer demand.

    2. People forget very easily. Once treatment and prevention (vaccine) will be better and widely available, media focus will shift and the fear will disappear eventually. I...

    I personally do not believe that it will stay forever, whatever that may mean. At least not generally speaking.

    1. Mask mandates are predominately government requirements and many airlines were very reluctant to introduce them in the beginning. Without the regulatory part, it's a question of customer demand.

    2. People forget very easily. Once treatment and prevention (vaccine) will be better and widely available, media focus will shift and the fear will disappear eventually. I think the virus will be normalized to some extent.

    3. The examples you mentioned are very U.S. specific and I don't think those two problems can be compared.

    4. Time heals all wounds. My personal prediction is that much of the sensationalist media coverage will NOT turn out to be true. Cities will remain the center of living, offices will remain the center of working (while added flexibility is always welcome), and personal interaction will remain key.

    What I do believe is that people will be more willing to wear masks on a voluntary basis, which I absolutely welcome and which is the standard in Asia anyways. Probably one of the reasons why they were vastly more successful fighting the pandemic than most of the "West".

  66. Nige

    Wouldn’t it be best just to ban air travel entirely? Think of the lives saved, environmental damage prevented, and diseases controlled!!!! Isn’t giving up your travel and holiday desires a small price to pay for such safety?

  67. Christopher Smith

    You're finally starting to get it.

  68. Miamiorbust

    As with nearly all discussions of COVID, this blog and others suffer from tunnel vision on the US experience. In my roughly 15 flights with ex US airlines during COVID, reductions in service have tended to be limited, targeted and generally reasonable. Using COVID as an excuse to bludgeon airline customers has been (largely) a US creation. Ditto for hotels. Airlines are a global business and my sense is almost no ex US countries are...

    As with nearly all discussions of COVID, this blog and others suffer from tunnel vision on the US experience. In my roughly 15 flights with ex US airlines during COVID, reductions in service have tended to be limited, targeted and generally reasonable. Using COVID as an excuse to bludgeon airline customers has been (largely) a US creation. Ditto for hotels. Airlines are a global business and my sense is almost no ex US countries are looking to FAA for guidance on COVID policies. Would be interesting to hear from people based outside US

  69. Endre

    I could see a permanent implementation of wearing face masks and all FA interactions with passengers through the IFE screen (isn’t JetBlue testing this for their catering on their TATL flights?)

  70. RCB

    I can't wait for Santastico to come in here and tell us masks are stupid because Covid is fake because he had it and recovered just fine. There, saved him the trouble of posting his incessant idiotic comment.

  71. Al

    I think US airlines will require masks through Jan 1 2022, at that point, if things go to plan, the USA will have reached herd immunity (if everyone gets a shot) and deaths will be below or at the same level as the flu. I think at that point, there won't really be a huge need for masks on planes.

    At the same time though, US airlines could make masks optional on domestic flights but...

    I think US airlines will require masks through Jan 1 2022, at that point, if things go to plan, the USA will have reached herd immunity (if everyone gets a shot) and deaths will be below or at the same level as the flu. I think at that point, there won't really be a huge need for masks on planes.

    At the same time though, US airlines could make masks optional on domestic flights but still require them on international flights since the rest of the world is no where near the US's pace of vaccination. That of course would create an issue at airports where you have both domestic and international travelers leaving from the same terminals and it would be a bit odd to require domestic travelers to wear a mask in the airport but not on the actual flight.

    Therefore, I think the mask requirements for all air travel in/from the USA will end at the end of this year. That said, I would expect foreign carriers in some countries to require them for a while longer.

  72. Joe Chivas

    Keep your masks on, bitches

  73. Richmond_Surrey

    I'm not flying anywhere, until mask requirement is removed. I will burn my miles on something else.

  74. Robin

    @mjonis

    Yup, of course, and an asteroid will probably hit the Earth, too, probably in a week or two. Oh, and WWIII will break out also, probably tomorrow. And the Black Death will come back the day after that. People will never, ever be able to celebrate a birthday again because everything is bad and awful and terrible and a party might offend some people.

    GTFO with your STUPID, braindead pessimism. I'm sick and...

    @mjonis

    Yup, of course, and an asteroid will probably hit the Earth, too, probably in a week or two. Oh, and WWIII will break out also, probably tomorrow. And the Black Death will come back the day after that. People will never, ever be able to celebrate a birthday again because everything is bad and awful and terrible and a party might offend some people.

    GTFO with your STUPID, braindead pessimism. I'm sick and tired of all of you with your ridiculous, over the top glass-isn't-just-half-empty-there-isn't-even-a-glass-anymore attitude.

    PEOPLE: gain some historical perspective. ALL pandemics do go away eventually. ALL things end. If you had lived through WWII, you would have said "this war will never end...even if it does, another one, even bigger, will break out right after". Do you understand how ridiculous that sounds?

    A modern-day pandemic does not spell the end of all social customs, and, sorry, @Lucky, I have to say, I think you're vastly underestimating the power of social attraction us extroverts feel.

    Take a deep breath. Things will be normal again and, yes, it will even be okay to...GASP...shake someone's hand or...GASP...celebrate something with friends and family.

  75. Peter

    The mask policy is viewed as much more of an annoyance than the others (although perhaps we've just gotten used to the others whereas masks are still new in the grand scheme of things). I could see it sticking around for another year or so, but I could also see it just naturally going away (i.e. not being enforced).

    At a certain point they do not make sense anymore. We didn't have them before...

    The mask policy is viewed as much more of an annoyance than the others (although perhaps we've just gotten used to the others whereas masks are still new in the grand scheme of things). I could see it sticking around for another year or so, but I could also see it just naturally going away (i.e. not being enforced).

    At a certain point they do not make sense anymore. We didn't have them before for flu, yellow fever, and other things you need vaccines for. Why would we continue to have them for COVID, especially when most of the population is vaccinated down the road? (for the record, I am pro-mask and have no problem wearing one on a long-haul flight).

  76. john

    The unions will bitch about having to enforce the rules.

  77. The nice Paul

    @Nelson
    I've encountered this too (and not just in Europe) -- some airports now have new generation scanning equipment which apparently doesn't require electronics to be removed from bags. I think it's some whizzy clever 3D scanner thingy.

    Oh -- it's not everywhere in Europe, either.

  78. JG

    Ben, one big difference between all the silly rules you mentioned and this one is that those do not require the FAs onboard to enforce them. This will die out onboard because if it does not it means more work for the FAs to enforce it and potentially more conflict points. Both of which I can see the FAs (aka the union) not wanting to deal with, especially once we are all more or less vaccinated.

    1. Ben

      @ JG -- I don't disagree, though at the same time airlines could permanently use a mask mandate to justify offering limited service, which would be less work for flight attendants. So I could see that going either way. And if the mask mandate remains in place permanently, perhaps it will eventually become less of a point of contention, just like people don't object to wearing seatbelts on planes (well, generally).

  79. Kevin

    I think it’ll end at some point. It would be nice if someone who has a cold will put on a mask while traveling on an airplane. You know in Asia that will always be the case, but in US, that will be a tall order since we are in the land of me me me.

  80. Mark F

    I don't think it will be a permanent mandate, but I can see it being more common practice to wear a mask when flying during certain times.

    For example, I can see wearing a mask on a full flight in December with holiday travelers. Even if it is just to protect my older relatives from the flu once I get to my destination. I can remember getting on a full plane to travel for the...

    I don't think it will be a permanent mandate, but I can see it being more common practice to wear a mask when flying during certain times.

    For example, I can see wearing a mask on a full flight in December with holiday travelers. Even if it is just to protect my older relatives from the flu once I get to my destination. I can remember getting on a full plane to travel for the holidays and half the plane sniffling and coughing. Or anytime during cold/flu season.

    In the past, people would give you a crazy look. Hopefully, it will become more acceptable in the future.

  81. BC

    Once the mask mandate goes away the airlines will remove their mandates also - it's just not a competitive advantage for any of them to keep it and once the first airline moves the others will quickly follow.

    Now, maybe a good % of people will want to keep wearing a mask, especially when they're unwell (as in Asia) - that'd be a good thing!

    1. Ben

      @ BC -- Personally I'm not convinced the federal mask mandate for transportation will ever go anywhere. So perhaps I shouldn't have phrased this purely as a question of individual airline policy, but rather as a question of industry policy overall.

  82. jem

    Once vaccines are widely available to all (in the US, soon) then personal responsibility has to come in to play at some point. There is a simple step that we can take to prevent yourself from dying, so take it. It should not be the duty of the socially and personally responsible to protect those unwilling the get the vaccine. I agree, COVID-19 will likely be with us forever, so, just like the flu, get your vaccine, don't die. Simple.

    1. Ben

      @ jem -- Totally agree with you, but that's also why I think the mask mandate will stay in place for at least a year or more. Yes, in the US we'll all soon have access to vaccines, but that's not the case around the world, and ultimately air travel is global.

  83. mjonis

    It'll never go away. This way the airlines can discontinue food/beverage (or keep it as little as possible) to avoid folks taking their mask off to eat/drink. COVID is here to stay and probably by the time it gets down to a "small" amount, some new virus will come out and we'll have this all over again.

    The days of F travel (especially on 12+ hour flights) are gone and who'd want to wear a...

    It'll never go away. This way the airlines can discontinue food/beverage (or keep it as little as possible) to avoid folks taking their mask off to eat/drink. COVID is here to stay and probably by the time it gets down to a "small" amount, some new virus will come out and we'll have this all over again.

    The days of F travel (especially on 12+ hour flights) are gone and who'd want to wear a mask anyway for that long (let alone when you're trying to sleep on a lie-flat)?

  84. Nelson

    My last flight on AUG27 2020 at security in a European Airport for the first time in years I was not requested to remove my laptop out of the suitcase. Don't know if it's a new rule or simply luck. But I don't think it was luck because when I was starting to remove it I was told by a security guy that I don't need to remove it.

Featured Comments Load all 88 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Elisa Lazier

In case they will never lift the mask mandate I will never ever again be able to fly because I have severe phobia of masks. That would be very sad for me because I love flying and airplanes, then I really hope that, once we are all vaccinated and Covid 19 is not pestering us all anymore, masks will be no more required. I am really looking forward to flying again.

Lastmate

There is little doubt in my mind that masks will be required on aircraft, in airports and likewise on all ground transportation....forever...within the US and on any transportation originating and terminating in the US. Furthermore I foresee the ban on any service of alcoholic beverages in any class of service with and to and from the US....again on a permanent basis. It's part of the totalitarian regime.

Martin

I too personally do not want to fly again until mask wearing is not compulsory. Its just the thought of being on a long haul flight wearing one for the duration of the journey, just doesn't do it, not part of my holiday I'm afraid!

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