Passengers flying with some US carriers during the coronavirus pandemic who refuse to wear a face mask could have their flying privileges revoked, an industry trade organisation that represents leading US airlines said in a statement posted on its website.

Airlines for America (A4A) said each carrier “will determine the appropriate consequences” for passengers who don’t comply with the respective airline’s face covering policy, up to and including the “suspension of flying privileges on that airline”.

“U.S. airlines are very serious about requiring face coverings on their flights. Carriers are stepping up enforcement of face coverings and implementing substantial consequences for those who do not comply with the rules,” said A4A president and CEO Nicholas E. Calio.

According to A4A, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines will be implementing a series of policy updates regarding face coverings. These include the following:

  • Each airline will “clearly articulate” its individual face covering policy to passengers, which may require passengers to acknowledge the specific rules during the check-in process.
  • Onboard the aircraft, crew members will announce specific details regarding the carrier’s face covering policy including the consequences passengers could face for violating the policy.
  • Each carrier will determine the appropriate consequences for passengers who are found to be in noncompliance of the airline’s face covering policy up to and including suspension of flying privileges on that airline.

The new measures are expected to remain in place throughout the Covid-19 public health crisis, A4A said.

United to put non-compliant passengers on “internal travel restriction list”

United said in a statement posted on its website that any passenger that does not comply with the carrier’s face mask requirement when onboard a United flight will be placed on an internal travel restriction list starting on June 18. 

“Customers on this list will lose their travel privileges on United for a duration of time to be determined pending a comprehensive incident review,” reads a statement from United.

The Chicago-based carrier currently requires all passengers to wear a face covering onboard its flights and “expects that policy to remain in place for at least the next 60 days”. Customers are expected to wear a mask for the duration of the flight, except when eating or drinking, said the airline.

The only exceptions to this policy are individuals who have a medical condition or a disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering, those who cannot put on or remove a face covering themselves and small children.