Flight execs are ready for mask mandates to end

The mask mandate for transit is maybe coming to an end — or so air execs hope.

Source: (Photo by Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A lot of places have loosened restrictions on masks — but not planes, trains, or buses.

In March, TSA extended mask mandates for transit until April 18, per CDC recommendations. But as the new expiration date approaches, there’s been some turbulence.

Is it really ending?

Maybe?

On the “Today” show, White House covid response coordinator Dr. Ashish K. Jha said the CDC was developing a “scientific framework” for masks on transit, and that an extension is “absolutely on the table.”

Airline execs really want the mandate to end

On March 23, several sent a letter to the White House arguing that extended mandates make “no sense” when people are unmasked in restaurants and schools.

Plus, crews are tired of enforcing it. Of all 5.9k+ unruly passenger reports in 2021, ~72% involved masks, per the FAA.

Recently, the FAA issued record-high fines…

… against 2 unruly passengers at $81.9k and $77.2k, respectively, for incidents in July 2021. Why so high? The FAA can issue fines up to $37k per violation — and they can stack.

One traveler allegedly threatened, hit, and spit at flight attendants; the other is accused of trying to kiss her seatmate and biting another passenger.

Those aren’t entirely about masks — though they probably would have helped with the kissing and spitting — but you can bet more fines are en route:

  • In January, a Delta passenger who refused to wear his mask allegedly mooned a flight attendant and threw a can at another passenger.
  • Last year, a woman pleaded guilty to punching a flight attendant in the face after being told to buckle her seat and fix her mask during a Southwest flight.

BTW: We’ve said this before but still can’t believe the FAA made memes to convince people to behave on planes.

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