Westjet has introduced a “zero tolerance” policy surrounding the wearing of face coverings inflight.

From today (September 1) non-compliant guests “face penalties including denied boarding, return of the aircraft to the gate to offload the passenger and the suspension of travel on any Westjet Group aircraft for up to one year”.

Face mask are compulsory for all travellers over the age of two years – those requiring exemption for health reasons must produce a certified medical note.

The carrier said that the policy will be managed through a three-step process:

  1. Passengers will first be asked to put the mask on in a discussion with cabin crew.
  2. Passengers will be given a warning that masks are required, and compliance is necessary.
  3. Passengers will receive notice that non-compliance will result in follow up notification that they will be placed on a no-fly list for 12-months.

In addition the carrier has made it mandatory for travellers to input contact tracing information during the online or kiosk check-in process.

Westjet said that “guests will no longer be able to bypass the information screen and will be required to input up-to-date information prior to the issuance of a boarding pass”.

Commenting on the news WestJet Group President and CEO Ed Sims, said:

“Canadian travellers and all of our Westjet Group employees are counting on us to keep them safe and it is our utmost priority to do so. Masks are mandated by our regulator and the vast majority of our guests are happy to keep themselves and each other safe by complying.

“This enhanced policy provides clarity on how we will enforce the regulation for those who don’t. Travellers must understand if they choose to not wear a mask, they are choosing not to fly our airlines.

“We continue to work collaboratively with our health partners to adapt our procedures. A coordinated approach is essential, and we are advocating for contact tracing enhancements along with the introduction of testing.”

Carriers worldwide have gradually been tightening their policies on the usage of face masks inflights.

Lufthansa Group passengers wishing to be exempt from the requirement for medical reasons now have to present proof of a negative Covid-19 test not older than 48 hours at the scheduled beginning of the journey, as well as a medical certificate confirming that they should not be required to wear a face mask.

And American Airlines and other US carriers have recently banned the use of face masks with exhaust valves or vents.