JetBlue Becomes First US Carrier To Make Face Masks Compulsory

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From the 4th of May onwards, JetBlue Airways will require that all passengers wear compulsory face masks. The low-cost carrier is the first US airline to make face masks mandatory for travelers on its flights, or what it is calling “the new flying etiquette.”

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JetBlue is the first US airline to require that passengers wear face masks. Photo: JetBlue.

“The new flying etiquette”

New York-based budget airline JetBlue is requiring that any passenger traveling on its flights from Monday next week onwards wear a face mask. US airlines have been progressively implementing safety precautions to curb the spread of coronavirus. Still, JetBlue is the first airline in the country to require that all on its aircraft, not just crew, don masks before boarding.

“Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself it’s about protecting those around you,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer for JetBlue in a statement issued Monday. “This is the new flying etiquette.”

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Beginning on the 4th of May, all JetBlue passengers must wear masks. Photo: Getty Images

May the 4th

Beginning on the 4th of May, JetBlue’s new policy will require that passengers wear a face covering over their nose and mouth throughout their journey. This includes check-in, boarding, while in flight, and when deplaning.

JetBlue customers will be reminded of the conditions before their flight via email. Small children are exempt from the requirement. Although not obligatory, the airline also asks that customers would follow the guideline of wearing face masks while at the airport.

Since late March, JetBlue, which has parked about 40% of its fleet, has limited the number of seats it sells on most flights. Before each flight, the carrier says that it reviews seat assignments to ensure as much personal space as possible. Furthermore, the airline blocks off rows near crew member jump seats to create buffer zones.

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The AFA has commended JetBlue for the new rule. Photo: JetBlue

The AFA approves

Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), commended JetBlue on its move and communication in a statement shared with CNBC News.

“All airlines should follow JetBlue’s lead, including its efforts to fully communicate the change before it becomes effective next week so that Flight Attendants are not put in the position of being enforcers without information and backing from the airline.”

Nelson has previously called on the US government to make the wearing of masks obligatory for crew members and passengers across the board and to prohibit all leisure travel at this time. She is also slamming airlines for not implementing adequate social distancing on flights or providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

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US airlines ramping up precautions

Following initial inertia, US carriers have been ramping up their requirements for protective gear over the past few weeks. Last Friday, United became the first major airline (budget carrier Frontier had already implemented the rule) to make masks mandatory for flight attendants. Just earlier today, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines followed suit. They will also supply masks for passengers, but have yet to make them mandatory to be allowed to board.

Do you think it is the government’s job to make masks mandatory, or should it be left to the airlines to implement their own policies? Would you bring your own personal mask or accept one the airline provided? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

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