United Airlines is taking an uncompromising approach when it comes to its onboard mask policy. From June 18th, the Chicago-based carrier will place any passenger who does not comply with its mask policy on an internal travel restriction list.
According to an official press release sent to Simple Flying, those on this list will lose their travel privileges on United for a length of time that will be determined following a comprehensive incident review. The operator requires all passengers to wear a face-covering onboard its services. This is a rule that will remain in place for at least another 60 days.
Regardless, there are some exceptions to this policy. Primarily, passengers with a medical condition or a disability that prevents them from wearing a face-covering are exempt. Additionally, small children and those who can’t put on or remove a face covering themselves may be exempted.
Nonetheless, most United passengers have been following this policy. Unless they physically can’t do so, they will face the consequences if they don’t continue these practices. They should wear a mask for the duration of the flight, except when eating or drinking.
Ultimately, if a passenger isn’t exempt, a flight attendant will notify the customer that face coverings are mandatory for the benefit of everyone onboard. If they don’t have a mask, the airline will provide one for free. However, if the flier continues to be non-compliant, crew members will do their best to de-escalate the situation. They will remind the customer of the policy and provide an information card.
If the passenger still refuses to wear a mask, the flight attendant will file a report of the incident, which will initiate a formal review process. Furthermore, after the flight has reached its destination and security has investigated the situation, United will make a final decision on the customer’s future flight benefits.
United chief customer officer Toby Enqvist spoke of how important it is to wear these coverings. With a plane being a tight environment, it’s important to adhere to the measures that are in place.
“Every reputable health institution says wearing a mask is one of the most effective things people can do to protect others from contracting COVID-19, especially in places like an aircraft where social distancing is a challenge,” Enqvist said, according to the press release.
“We have been requiring our customers to wear masks onboard United aircraft since May 4 and we have been pleased that the overwhelming majority of passengers readily comply with our policy. Today’s announcement is an unmistakable signal that we’re prepared to take serious steps, if necessary, to protect our customers and crew.”
Part of a broader strategy
This mask policy plays a crucial part in United’s CleanPlus program. This initiative involves collaboration with disinfectant specialist Clorox and some of the United States’ top medical experts at Cleveland Clinic.
Some aspects of United’s approach to passenger and employee safety include:
- State-of-the-art HEPA grade air circulation systems – these remove up to 99.7% of airborne particles onboard.
- Enhanced cabin sanitization – electrostatic spraying has been integrated into cleaning procedures on all inbound long-haul international flights, and mainline overnight aircraft at the operator’s US hubs.
- Reduced onboard contact – the minimizing of touchpoints by changing current food processes and the temporary removal of inflight items.
- Social distancing at the airport – while minimizing contact, there will soon be sneeze guards at key interaction points.
In it together
United joins other members of Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization representing the leading US carriers in their stance on masks. A4A president and CEO Nicholas E. Calio shares that airlines are very serious about requiring face coverings on their flights.
Moreover, he says that they are stepping up enforcement of the masks. Ultimately, they are implementing substantial consequences for those who do not comply with the rules.
This statement echoes the sentiments of Dr. James Merlino, chief clinical transformation officer at Cleveland Clinic. He vouches that wearing a mask is a critical part of helping make air travel safer. Additionally, he states that if more people in a given space wear them, there will be fewer viral particles in the space around them.
Altogether, during this sensitive climate, it is great to see US airlines taking a hardline approach to passenger safety. Despite most passengers complying, there may be some anomalies. Therefore, United is looking to deal with these incidents firmly.
What are your thoughts about United Airlines’ stance on face masks on their services? Is this a positive approach for the company? Let us know what you think in the comment section.
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