Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have made face masks mandatory for all passengers and crew on board their aircraft. They will be providing them to passengers who do not have them, and the new rules will go into effect immediately.
Why are facemasks effective?
Face masks are proving to be a useful tool to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The primary benefit being that those who have the virus are less likely to spread it if they wear a mask. In many cases, people can be asymptomatic but could still spread the virus. As the virus disperses through breathing and saliva particles, the mask acts as a physical barrier and reduces the risk of passing it on.
There are also some benefits of facemasks for those who do not have the virus, with the masks proven to reduce the infection rate. Those who wish to know more about facemasks and the coronavirus can read about it here.
New rules from the CDC in the United States have suggested that if passengers can’t be more than six feet away from one another at all times, then they should wear a face mask. As an aircraft is so narrow and confined that that is practically impossible (we would argue that even those in first-class are less than six feet away from one another), all onboard will need to wear facemasks.
Following these recommendations, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have made wearing a facemask mandatory.
What are the new rules on Delta and American?
American Airlines has already issued a rule that all its cabin crew must wear a facemask at all times. Now that same rule will apply to all passengers form the 1st of May, 2020 (with exceptions given to very young children and those who can’t wear one for medical reasons – which is kind of ironic!).
“The American Airlines team continues to prioritize the safety of our customers and team members, and requiring a face covering is one more way we can protect those on our aircraft,” said Kurt Stache, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience in a press release. “We ask customers to bring their own masks or face coverings they’re comfortable with when they travel. American is working to procure face masks and hand sanitizer as a supplement.”
Delta Air Lines has followed with similar rules to protect passengers and crew members. They will not only require all passengers and crew members to wear masks but also will implement temperature checks for crew members before every flight.
“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our people and our customers,” said Bill Lentsch, Chief Customer Experience Officer in a press release. “While we remain committed to our new standard of clean and to providing more space for our customers when they travel, we take seriously the CDC guidelines for adding this extra layer of protection. We believe this change will give customers and employees some additional comfort when traveling with us.”
Both airlines will also be distributing hand sanitization and other disinfectant materials to ensure that passengers are as safe as possible.
The future of face masks on aircraft
There is nothing more permanent than a temporary solution. If these facemasks are proven to be effective in not only combating the spread of COVID-19 onboard but other viruses as well, then they might be here to stay.
In Asia, face masks are considered an essential tool for anyone who is sick, and seeing them in public (outside of a hospital) is commonplace. Now in the west, we may see the same shift in usage, and that airlines may not relax these new rules anytime soon.
What do you think of these new rule changes? Let us know in the comment.