When Will American Airlines End Its Mask Requirement?

This year has seen carriers implement policies that make it mandatory to wear face masks on board aircraft amid the global health crisis. Simple Flying this week had the opportunity to speak with American Airlines MD of Customer Experience Innovation Kim Cisek, about her company’s expectations for 2021.

American Airlines 787
American Airlines is firm with its mask requirements. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | JFKJets.com:

Important lessons

Cisek explains that with the rise of the pandemic, American Airlines learned right away to have important medical partnerships. So, the company linked with the likes of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. These moves helped it have the right foundation to handle the challenges that were to come.

The airline learned well about the importance of masks from its medical experts and across the board. Subsequently, the firm introduced a no-exception policy to the wearing of them. Cisek shares that studies started to show that there is a less than 1% chance of contracting the virus on an aircraft with the support of a mask. Therefore, knowing this, the airline made pivotal changes to its policies as it was learning.

American Airlines flight schedule
The airline adapted quickly this year. Photo: Getty Images

Consulting the right people

Key introductions include testing initiatives and improved hygiene measures. Nonetheless, it is the compulsory wearing of masks that has stuck out this year. There have been mumbles that masks may not be needed by the middle of next year. However, they will be required across American Airlines’ services until medical experts advise that its safe to stop.

“For now, masks stay in place. It’s something that we know reduces any risk of customers. I think this is where the medical experts come into play. We’ve been holding many calls with our experts to say, “When do we see testing and vaccinations come together, and at the rate that we’re seeing COVID increasing, at what point is it safe again when you start to have that immunity, and you start to have more people taking the vaccinations?” Cisek told Simple Flying.

“There’s been some dates thrown out there – does this happen summer of 2021? And so I think, for American Airlines, we rely on the medical experts to give us some direction on when you start to see us being able to remove any type of mask policy. But for now, it will be in place. We know it’s safe, and we know that’s the number one thing you can do when you get onboard an aircraft.”

American Airlines Mask
There carrier won’t take any risks. Photo: Getty Images

Looking ahead

There is hope for the industry heading into next year with the introduction of a vaccine to tackle the spread of the virus. Airlines will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on this progress.

Altogether the first few months of 2021 will be crucial in the bid the open up travel again. If the vaccine rollout is successful and the virus can be contained, then masks may be less of a requirement by the summer. Regardless, they are here to stay until health institutions advise otherwise.

What are your thoughts about the mask policy of airlines? How long will face coverings be a general requirement for passengers? Let us know what you think in the comment section.