Southwest Airlines is the first U.S. airline to make wearing face masks mandatory for all passengers except for children under 2 years old.
Most airlines exclude passengers to wear face mask in case of certain medical conditions. However, with the change of rules at Southwest the airline will not make anymore exceptions effective July 27. In a recent statement Southwest explained:
“If a Customer is unable to wear a face covering or mask for any reason, Southwest regrets that we will be unable to transport the individual. In those cases, we hope the Customer will allow us to welcome them onboard in the future, if public health guidance, or other safety-related circumstances, regarding face coverings changes.”
The new, stricter Southwest requirement about having a face mask comes admits surges of Covid-19 cases across the U.S.
“[ … ] due to the safety risk of Covid-19 transmission by individuals not wearing a face covering, Southwest will require that all Southwest Customers wear a face covering or mask over their nose and mouth, and there will be no exemptions to our face covering requirement, except for children under the age of two.” reads the statement.
American Airlines is the first to follow the Southwest example and impose its own rule that passengers should wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth with the exception of children under 2 years of age. United Airlines still doesn’t have have that strict of a rule.
Airlines have implemented procedures to clean airplane cabins thoroughly. Additionally, airplanes have been supplied with hospital-grade air filters that take out pathogens form the air to a high degree. When passengers wear face masks, exercise social distancing, and practice personal hygiene, it decreases the spread of the virus greatly.
What happens to passengers that are not allowed to board because of the airline rules on Covid-19 is a question that still remains unanswered? What happens to their flight reservation? What governing agency would stipulate the passenger rights?
Airlines are desperate to regain travel demand as their very own survival is at stake. In fact, what Southwest does is nothing more then to respond to a new reality, namely, it will require passengers to wear masks for the unforeseeable future admits the coronavirus pandemic.