Skip to content

Is British Airways reversing course on face mask requirements?

March 17, 2022
5 min read
British Airways planes at Heathrow Airport
Is British Airways reversing course on face mask requirements?
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Days after British Airways became the world’s first major airline to scrap face mask requirements, the airline caused confusion amongst passengers after appearing to walk back its relaxed mask rules.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

In the same week that Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow Airport followed suit by loosening their own face mask policies, it would appear pushing the policy change through in time for March 16 has not been smooth sailing for the U.K.'s flag carrier.

TPG U.K's managing editor, Jordan Waller, flew with British Airways from London Heathrow (LHR) to Dublin Airport (DUB) on March 17 and found considerable confusion around face mask rules.

Upon boarding his flight he was informed by flight attendants that masks were required and was promptly provided one. Throughout the flight itself, however, he saw a number of passengers not wearing masks, with the rule not enforced by flight staff.

Related: Ireland ditches most of its COVID-19 rules: Americans welcome just in time for St. Patrick’s Day

The only mention of face masks, aside from boarding, was when the flight approached landing where an announcement was made saying all passengers would need to wear a mask for disembarkation. This echoed a conversation earlier in the day during which Jordan was told by fellow travelers at Heathrow airport that they'd been advised by BA that masks would only need to be put back on when entering airports where national rules made it mandatory.

To add further confusion, Heathrow Airport is still showing instructions that masks are mandatory on their announcement boards despite saying it would be ditching masks by March 16. Airport staff explained to TPG that the signs were incorrect, and travelers were free to go maskless in the airport -- they simply hadn't updated their signs. This is despite having several days since making the announcement that they were ditching mask requirements earlier this week.

British Airways crew members believe the carrier is already backtracking on its universal de-masking policy, according to industry chatter on the web forum FlyerTalk.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

FlyerTalk user EJetter wrote: “Masks still required for passengers and crew (on CityFlyer at least, I don’t have visibility of the mainline … The company is looking into some compliance issues so masks are required on all [British Airways] and BA CityFlyer flights for the time being.”

“We’ve been told an issue which they can’t disclose has arisen so masks will remain mandatory on all flights until further notice," an apparent crew member commented. "Great joy for the crew who will now have to police this after a jazzy social media campaign from BA about [the] removal of masks from today."

According to a BA source who reached out to TPG on social media following our initial story, the airline has "internally communicated that all routes still require face masks on board. Even domestic flights," adding that it seemed the earlier announcement on the face mask mandate was potentially premature.

Related: Virgin Atlantic is launching a new route to America going head to head with British Airways

BA's official website, at the time of writing, still states that face masks are mandatory, which is a change from several days ago. The site states that passengers are required to wear them "at all times” and even stresses that “one mask lasts four hours so please bring enough for your journey."

(Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

It’s been a big old week for the U.K. travel sector, which continues to inch back to normality after the brutal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a raft of airlines and airports now looking to welcome air travelers without the strict requirements of high-grade face masks as standard.

But is it a case of walking before they can run?

Hailed this week by BA COO Jason Mahoney as a “really positive step forward,” BA said it would only require face coverings on board if the destination they’re traveling to requires it, including the U.S., where masks remain mandatory for air travel until at least April.

What is for certain is the new rulings put the onus of COVID-19 safety firmly on passengers who could make a “personal choice and “[respect] each other’s preferences."

Naturally, the news was met with a mixed reaction on social media, with many frequent travelers welcoming the news as a sensible move. Others remain cautious, or even critical of the airline, enquiring about refunds as they search for alternative options on existing bookings.

As yet there's no official word from BA on how much it plans to walk back its new mask policy. We've reached out for comment and will update this story as soon as there is a development.

Featured image by (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review
Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

Fair/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

    Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    Fair/Good

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees