As airlines grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they are continually recalibrating air travel requirements in support of passenger and staff well-being.
In accordance with public health guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), major US carriers have announced that they will expand the face covering requirements for all passengers above the age of two (2). Evidence has shown that COVID-19 can be spread by individuals who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected with the virus.
The only time face coverings may be removed at the airport or on board is when a passenger is eating or drinking. Those unwilling to comply with this face covering requirement may be barred from future travel for the duration of this face covering requirement.
Effective July 24, United Airlines will require all customers to wear a face covering in the more than 360 airports where the airline operates around the world. This includes United customer service counters and kiosks, United Club locations, United’s gates and baggage claim areas.
If customers refuse to comply, they may be refused travel and banned from flying United at least while the mask requirement is in place. This applies to all customers regardless of when their ticket was purchased.
United also will strengthen its mask exemption policy by only excluding children under the age of two. If a passenger believes that there are extraordinary circumstances that warrant an exception, they should contact United or speak to a representative at the airport.
Effective July 27, due to the safety risk of COVID-19 transmission by individuals not wearing a face covering, Southwest will require that all Southwest Customers wear a face covering or mask over their nose and mouth, and there will be no exemptions to our face covering requirement, except for children under the age of two.
If a Customer is unable to wear a face covering or mask for any reason, Southwest regrets that we will be unable to transport the individual. In those cases, we hope the Customer will allow us to welcome them onboard in the future, if public health guidance, or other safety-related circumstances, regarding face coverings changes.
Effective July 29, American Airlines will require all customers over the age of 2 to wear face coverings at airports and on board, strengthening the airline’s commitment to keep customers and team members safe.
Due to safety risk of asymptomatic COVID-19 transmission by individuals without face coverings, all customers must wear a face covering from the time they enter their departure airport and not remove it until they exit their arrival airport.
This updated policy expands American’s face covering requirement to include all areas of the airports at which American operates, including Admirals Club lounges, as well as on board all American flights and does not allow for exemptions for those over 2 years old.