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Federal Judge Overturns Mask Mandate: Do You Still Need to Wear Masks?

  • Air Travel
  • Renee Martin
  • 4 minutes

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After a federal judge ruled against it, it appears that the mask mandate on airlines will not be extended. With some airports still requiring face masks, travelers could be a little bewildered by all of this. Here’s what you need to know:

A recent U.S. federal court judgment by Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle stated that the U.S. mask rule on flights and public transportation is no longer lawful. Following that, several airlines published statements regarding the mask mandate.

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Do you still need to wear masks on airplanes?

Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, United, and several other airlines said late Monday that they would no longer force passengers to wear face masks. This would be effective immediately. It was in response to a federal judge’s judgment in Florida and the White House’s response.

What airlines are saying about the mask mandate judgement

  • Face masks will no longer be required for customers and employees at U.S. airports and on domestic flights, according to American Airlines.
  • Masks are now optional for passengers inside U.S. airports and onboard Delta Airlines. Delta passengers, employees, and customers may continue to wear masks if they so desire.
  • Masks are no longer required on domestic United Airlines flights, select international flights (depending on the arrival country’s mask requirements), or at American airports as of today.
  • Southwest Airlines also stated that passengers and employees would be able to choose whether or not to wear a mask.
  • JetBlue also made masks optional but stated that customers and crew members were welcome to continue wearing masks. They further stated that, regardless of the rule change in the United States, customers and crewmembers traveling internationally should always have a mask with them. This is in case masks are still required at their destination.
  • According to Alaska Airlines, masks are now optional in U.S. airports and onboard aircraft.
  • Frontier Airlines stated that passengers and employees on Frontier flights are no longer required to wear masks. Mask requirements for international travel are still determined by the regulations of the country of arrival/departure.
  • Face masks are optional on Spirit Airlines flights for both passengers and crew.
  • Allegiant Airlines has announced that the mask requirement will no longer be enforced for passengers or employees.
  • Face masks are no longer required for Hawaiian Airlines guests and employees.
  • Passengers and employees on Sun Country flights may choose to wear masks, but they are no longer required.
  • Avelo Airlines stated that customers and crew members are no longer required to wear masks.
  • Guests and employees on Breeze flights are no longer required to wear masks.

While all this is happening, the Department of Justice indicated that if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deems it essential, it will appeal the recent verdict that nullified the federal mask rule on public transportation.

Do I still need to wear a mask at the airport?

The situation is still up in the air when it comes to the airport. Some airports like LaGuardia and JFK still have mask requirements. Newark and SeaTac have made masking optional.

What the mask mandate was

Air travel picks up

The mask mandate, which was announced in January 2021, was set to expire on Monday. The CDC announced last week that it would remain in place until May 3 to give researchers a little more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus, which is responsible for the majority of cases in the country. Despite repeated requests from airlines and other travel industry officials to relax restrictions, it was the fifth extension of the mask mandate.


What will happen to banned passengers?

Decisions on unbanning passengers who were barred during the mask mandate are likely to be made on a case-by-case basis, airline by airline.

Unruly passengers

Traveling during the pandemic in 2021 got quite a few passengers hackles up. If you remember, there was a massive spike in the numbers of unruly passengers.

We recommend that you check with the airport you’re flying from and the airport you’ll land at. It might be better to carry a mask with you while flying because the situation can change at any time.

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