United, Alaska First U.S. Airlines to Drop Mask Mandates After Judge’s Ruling

Skift grip

A federal judge in Florida and a Trump appointee have freed US airlines from the tyranny of having to enforce mask mandates. United and Alaska airlines wasted no time in supporting the decision by dropping their own mask requirements.

Tom Lowry

United Airlines and Alaska Air became the first U.S. airlines Monday night to drop their own mask mandates just hours after a federal judge in Florida ruled that the U.S. government’s mask mandate requirement for planes, trains and other public transport was legal.

“As of today, masks are no longer required at United on domestic flights, certain international flights (depending on the arrival of the country’s mask requirements) or at U.S. airports,” the company said Monday. airline in a press release. “While this means our employees are no longer required to wear a mask — and no longer have to enforce a mask requirement for most travelers — they will be able to wear masks if they choose to, as the CDC continues to strongly recommend wearing a mask on public transport.

United CEO Scott Kirby was among the airline CEOs who testified before Congress in December that mask mandates were no longer needed.

Alaska said in a press release: “Face masks have been like boarding passes for almost two years – you couldn’t fly without them. But, from today, masks are optional at airports and on board planes, with effect immediate.

“Due to a court order by our federal court system, the mask mandate has been revoked, meaning our guests and employees have the option to wear a mask while traveling in the United States and at work.”

However, not everyone in travel circles was as clear on the decision as United and Alaska. Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy at the US Travel Association, said “today’s court decision on the federal mask mandate demands clarity from the federal government. and agencies for the benefit of the traveling public and travel industry employees. .”

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki expressed disappointment with U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s ruling, adding “we would say to anyone sitting there, we recommend you wear masks in the plane”.

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