Airlines, protective masks, and social distancing have been very much in the news recently. Travelers complained of full flights — including at least one with some passengers not donning masks.
Most airlines — and several airports — announced mask-wearing requirements for all travelers.
But a highly-publicized, Reuters investigative report said the “top three U.S. airlines have told their flight attendants not to force passengers to comply with their new policy requiring face coverings, just encourage them to do so.”
So the rules aren’t really rules, are they?
A Tough Policy to Enforce?
According to the report, American, Delta, and United “told employees that they may deny boarding at the gate to anyone not wearing a face covering, and are providing masks to passengers who do not have them.”
But when people step foot on the plane, that’s when the mask requirement becomes an encouragement.
“Once on board and off the gate, the face covering policy becomes more lenient. The flight attendant’s role is informational, not enforcement, with respect to the face covering policy,” American told its pilots in a message seen by Reuters explaining its policy, which went into effect on Monday.
“If the customer chooses not to comply for other reasons, please encourage them to comply, but do not escalate further,” American told flight attendants in a message on Friday that it provided to Reuters.
“Likewise, if a customer is frustrated by another customer’s lack of face covering, please use situational awareness to de-escalate the situation,” it said.
It’s somewhat reminiscent of this situation that recently occurred during which a flight attendant had to use his de-escalation skills.
Television Doctor Wore a Mask During Flight – Still Got Coronavirus
Here’s one the anti-mask crowd will love.
NBC News’ virologist Dr. Joseph Fair revealed that he contracted COVID-19 — possibly during a New Orleans to New York flight.
My friends wondering where I’ve been: I came down with #COVID19 & am hospitalized. I’m on the other end of it, but not out of the woods yet. Please continue to social distance. I used max precautions, but still managed to contract it. Back as soon as I’m able, friends. #StaySafe pic.twitter.com/Ck75sKLOU3
— Dr. Joseph Fair (@curefinder) May 13, 2020
NBC News reports the “airline did not enforce social distancing measures.”
“I had a mask, I had gloves on, I did … my normal wipe-down,” Dr. Fair said, “but you can still get (COVID-19) through your eyes … I was seated right next to someone. The flight was full.”
And, of course, we received conflicting information: masks probably won’t help — but then a few weeks later, everyone must wear one because masks do work(?). (Frankly, I think the “masks don’t help” argument was a ploy to not get people to load up on N95 masks and other PPE needed for medical workers. That worked well, huh?)
Still Wise to Wear a Mask
As long as the rules are in effect, I think it’s still best to wear a mask. And that’s if you must travel at all.
Flight attendants are put in an ugly position here. Some people will be militant about not wearing masks — and that will certainly cause commotion flight attendants have to de-escalate.
Because masks very likely slow the spread of COVID-19 and add an extra layer of protection, I think it’s still prudent to follow the airliners’ rules requests — and wear one.
Featured image: ©iStock.com/Maria Argutinskaya
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