Calgary, Alberta-based WestJet is introducing new face mask rules that could lead to passengers being banned for up to one year for non-compliance. The Canadian airline’s zero-tolerance face mask policy starts on September 1 and outlines the repercussions for passengers who do not comply with the new rules.
According to a press release, customers who refuse to wear a face mask will be prevented from boarding the aircraft. The removal of a face mask once onboard the aircraft will result in the plane returning to the gate. Once back at the gate, the passenger will be removed from the plane and subjected to a one-year ban of flying with WestJet.
Children under two are exempt
The new rule’s only exception is for children under the age of two and for passengers with pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering. Those with a health condition will need to show a doctor’s note indicating why they cannot wear a face mask.
Should a passenger decide to take the mask off once the aircraft is airborne, there is a three-step process for addressing the issue which includes the following procedures:
- A request from a member of the cabin crew politely asking the passenger to put the mask back on
- A warning from a member of the cabin crew reminding the passenger that the wearing of a face mask is mandatory and that it must be put back on
- A notice to the passenger that they will be placed on a WestJet no-fly list and will not be allowed on any WestJet aircraft for a year
“Canadian travelers and all of our WestJet Group employees are counting on us to keep them safe, and it is our utmost priority to do so,” said Ed Sims, president, and CEO. “Masks are mandated by our regulator, and the vast majority of our guests are happy to keep themselves and each other safe by complying. This enhanced policy provides clarity on how we will enforce the regulation for those who don’t. Travelers must understand if they choose to not wear a mask, they are choosing not to fly our airlines.”
Face masks are mandatory on Canadian flights
Canadian government-run Transport Canada made the wearing of face masks mandatory on all Canadian airlines back in April. The government authority’s move was created to help stop the spread of COVID-19 during the global pandemic.
Since March, WestJet has flown more than 725,000 guests on 19,370 flights. Of these flights, 230 had individuals onboard who later tested positive for the coronavirus. This figure amounts to less than 1% of all WestJet flights. There have been no reported cases of anyone contracting the coronavirus while onboard any WestJet flights.
Is a one-year ban enough?
In the WestJet press release, there was no mention of whether or not a passenger could remove the face mask while eating or drinking as per Canada Transport guidelines. Simple Flying will reach out to WestJet to confirm if that is also the airline’s policy.
Banning a passenger from flying with you for a year does not seem that harsh of a punishment. If there was also a financial penalty of say CAD 1,000, it might make people think twice about breaking the rules.
What do you think? Please let us know in the comments.