US airlines drop face mask mandates: passengers celebrate on a Delta flight from New York

Delta, American Airlines, Southwest and several other major airlines have made mask wearing optional for passengers flying domestically

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

US authorities are no longer enforcing federal mask mandates after a judge ruled to overturn the US extension on wearing the coverings on flights.

The decision by US judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Florida led to several US airlines announcing that face masks no longer need to be worn onboard.

A video showing passengers on a Delta flight from New York to San Francisco went viral after travellers took off their masks and celebrated when a flight attendant announced that “masks are completely optional this evening for all crew and passengers as well “.

Delta Air Lines' official media statement confirms that masks “are optional for all airport employees, crew members and customers inside US airports and on board all aircraft domestically, as well as on most international flights.”

Several other US airlines have also announced that they no longer require passengers to wear face masks on flights, effective since Monday's ruling.

American Airlines — the biggest in the US by passenger numbers — said “in accordance with the Transportation Security Administration no longer enforcing the federal face mask mandate, face masks will no longer be required for our customers and team members at US airports and on domestic flights “.

Southwest echoed this sentiment, declaring that employees and customers “will be able to choose whether they would like to wear a mask on flights, at domestic ​airports, and at some international locations.”

JetBlue, which was the first major US airline to require all passengers to wear face coverings at the start of the global pandemic, also changed its ruling.

“Mask wearing will now be optional on JetBlue. While no longer required, customers and crew members are welcome to continue wearing masks in our terminals and on board our aircraft. Regardless of the US rule change, customers and crew members who are travelling internationally should always have a mask with them in case they continue to be required at their destination,” the airline confirmed in a statement.

Alaska Airlines released a statement confirming the same for passengers flying both with the Pacific Northwest carrier and its regional arm Horizon Air. “Face masks have been like boarding passes for nearly two years — you couldn’t fly without one. But, as of today, masks are optional in airports and on-board aircraft, effective immediately.”

Low-cost airlines also followed suit, with Avelo, Hawaiian and Frontier advising passengers that they can now choose whether or not they want to wear face masks on flights.

Reactions from the public have been mixed, with some people on social media welcoming the move and others saying it was premature and expressing concern for those not yet immunised or with compromised immune systems.

Updated: April 20, 2022, 12:32 PM