US

Airlines allow return of some passengers banned for violating mask policy

Passengers who have been banned by airlines for failing to comply with the national mask mandate may soon be able to fly again. United, Delta and Alaska Airlines told CBS News they would review each case before making a decision.

Delta Airlines said it will reinstate flight privileges for certain banned passengers after they demonstrate “an understanding of their expected in-flight behavior”. Passengers who exhibited “egregious behavior” and who were already on the permanent no-fly list will remain banned.

“At Delta, nothing is more important than the safety and security of our customers and staff,” the airline said in a statement. “Any further disregard for the policies that protect us all will result in placement on Delta’s permanent no-fly list.”

Delta banned about 2,000 passengers while the mask mandate was in place.

United, which has banned about 1,000 customers, said it would remove passengers from the no-fly list “on a case-by-case basis”. Alaska Airlines told CBS News that more than 1,700 passengers have been banned for refusing to wear masks, and it is also reviewing those decisions.

US-HEALTH-VIRUS-MANDATE-MASKS
Airline passengers and crew members, some not wearing face masks after Covid-19 public transportation rules ended, walk to flights in the Denver, Colorado, airport terminal on April 19, 2022. – Mask mandates on public transportation are no longer in effect following a federal judge’s decision on April 18, 2022.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images


Airline announcements come after Tampa U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle canceled the nation’s mask mandate on public transport, and the Transportation Security Administration said it would no longer enforce the warrant. At least eight major airlines, including Delta, JetBlue, American, Frontier and Spirit, no longer requires passengers to wear masks for the duration of their flights.

But on Wednesday, the Ministry of Justice appealed Mizelle’s decision after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said masking in transportation corridors like planes and trains is “necessary for public health.”

Airlines began requiring passengers to wear face masks in 2020, and the CDC issued the federal requirement for mass transit in January 2021 after President Biden took office. But the aircraft warrant has been a source of conflict, and flight attendants were left to enforce it. Carriers have reported 1,150 unruly passenger incidents so far this year, 744 of which were related to face masks, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Ed O’Keefe, Melissa Quinn and Kathryn Krupnik contributed reporting.

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