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Mandatory Masks On U.S. Airlines Could Be Dropped By September

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The CEO of Southwest Airlines has claimed that there is no push amongst those in the industry to extend the mask mandate once it expires in just a few weeks. Whilst other mask mandates in everyday life seem to be being phased out, the wearing of face masks onboard aircraft is still very much a live policy.

Airline CEO Claims Theirs No Push For Mask Mandate To Be Extended

As the number of people traveling continues to rise – and wish case numbers going up once more – here’s a look at the mask mandate as it currently is for airline passengers, plus a look at whether or not the rule is likely to be extended in the coming weeks.

traveler mask airport

Current Mask Mandate – Information For Travelers

Those who have been on a flight since the dawn of the pandemic will be all too familiar with the mask mandate and all the other Covid-19 related in-flight restrictions. Flying now compared to flying in the years before the pandemic is almost unrecognizable. Mandated by the TSA, masks now have to be worn across all transportation networks throughout the US, including at airports, on board commercial aircraft, on busses and on commuter bus and rail systems until September 13th.

woman mask airline passenger

There are some exemptions to the mask requirements. For example, travelers under the age of 2 do not need to wear a face mask, nor do those with certain disabilities who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of the disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, those who do not cooperate with the requirement will be liable for fines of up to $1,500 for repeat offenders. However, with the mask requirements’ expiry date of September 13th drawing ever closer, we could be about the see end of it.

waiting airport flight delayed

No Push For Mandate Extension – What Travelers Should Know

For travelers who are not fans of the mandatory wearing of facemasks onboard aircraft, some good news was delivered this week courtesy of Southwest Airlines CEO and chairman of industry lobbying group Airlines for America (A4A) Gary Kelly. Speaking on Thursday, Kelly said that both his airline and the trade group were not advocating for an extension of the federal transportation mask mandate when it expires in September, meaning the mandatory wearing of masks on board a flight may soon be a thing of the past.

woman mask passenger airline

However, it wasn’t the only thing that Kelly had to say about the wearing of masks – he also compared wearing them to wearing pants. Speaking during an interview on CNBC, the airline CEO came out in favor of the widespread wearing of masks during a pandemic, but felt that it shouldn’t be just airlines that have to mandate the wearing of them.

Kelly said:

“I have no problem with a mask mandate, I just don't think that it should think that it should be only for air travel. Let's mandate masks. I mean, you have to wear pants, why can't we mandate that you have to wear a mask in a pandemic?”

Whilst allowing the mandate to run its course without extension may be a symbolic victory in the battle against Covid-19, it may not be practical – particularly given the rate at which cases are starting to pick up once more. With 83% of flyers backing the mask mandate too, perhaps September would be a tad too early for a return to mask-free air travel.


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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Sunday 15th of August 2021

There is literally zero data proving that wearing masks on an airplane with HEPA filters does anything to slow the spread of respiratory pathogens. None. Masking healthy, asymptomatic people and young children will go down as the most idiotic, science free, panic based policy of all time.


Sunday 25th of July 2021

Wondering who was polled to get that 83% in favor of masks


Sunday 25th of July 2021

While I’m vaccinated and would love to not wear a mask on a plane I can’t see them dropping the mandate as the Delta variant is rampant your just inviting an outbreak. If things were going In the right direction I could see them removing it but not now


Sunday 25th of July 2021

It is worth to note that the claim that 83%of flyers are backing the mask dictate comes from a poll that took place in only 11 different markets. This is hardly reliable.


Sunday 25th of July 2021

That would be great news. Everybody can still decide on their own if they want to use one.