To say that the airline industry has inconsistent policies when it comes to wearing face masks in airports and on planes is an understatement, to say the least.
The Federal Aviation Administration has stopped short of making face masks mandatory during flights. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires employees to wear masks during the screening process but does not require passengers to do so.
Yet many airlines have been cracking down to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. Within a matter of days last week, an unruly WestJet passenger was arrested after refusing to wear a mask and then lighting a cigarette on board, and an American Airlines passenger was removed from a flight for also refusing to wear a mask.
Now an exasperated industry is looking to the federal government for help.
Airports and airlines are asking the feds to intervene and establish a national guideline for wearing masks during air travel, the Washington D.C.-based publication The Hill reported.
“I can’t emphasize that enough – we would welcome regulations on a temporary basis that you should wear a mask in an airport when you’re transferring through it,” Airports Council International – North America President Kevin M. Burke said. “If in fact you have to wear it on an airplane, you should be wearing it during your trip through the airport. You can infect as many people without a mask going through an airport as you would getting on an airplane.”
Burke made his comments during testimony at a hearing Thursday hosted by the House Homeland Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security.
Many airports have differing policies on masks; many airlines, particularly those represented by the Airlines for America (A4A) trade group, said this past week that customers could be put on a carrier’s do-not-fly list if they refuse to wear a face mask on flights that require them.
Hence the confusion among fliers.
“A4A member carriers will be vigorously enforcing face covering policies, putting rigor around rules requiring passengers and customer-facing employees to wear facial coverings over their nose and mouth,” an A4A spokesperson said.
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