Flight attendants union wants mandatory mask usage, suspension of leisure travel

Apr 24, 2020

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.

Everyone boarding a plane should be required to wear a mask to help protect both passengers and crews from the coronavirus, the world’s largest flight attendant union said this week.

In a letter to the secretaries of both the U.S. Transportation and Health and Human Services departments, the Association of Flight Attendants president Sara Nelson called for protective face masks to become required gear for flight crews and passengers alike.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news.

“Since flight attendant ability to practice social distancing is challenging in the aircraft cabin and on most other forms of public transportation, it is essential that we wear masks as often as possible so long as COVID-19 remains a threat to public health,” she said in the April 23 letter.

Nelson also recommended that the federal government put a temporary ban on leisure travel until the coronavirus pandemic is under control, underscoring the increasing scrutiny being placed on protecting the safety of those flying.

Related: Delta CEO raises prospect of ‘immunity passports’ for air travel.

“Airlines are continuing to deliver people, mail, and cargo, uniting families that are grieving or rushing to be with those who have fallen ill, and transporting others who require medical treatment unrelated to the pandemic. These are some of the many essential services provided by aviation to all of our communities — large and small — that must be maintained as the pandemic continues,” she wrote. “We believe that protecting this essential service and ensuring air travel is not aiding in spread of the virus requires a halt to all leisure travel until the pandemic is brought under control according to health authorities.”

Nelson’s request comes as the ongoing health crisis continues to wreak havoc on the airline industry.

Related: By one metric, Southwest is the world’s largest airline (for now).

Already, at least one carrier, United Airlines — perhaps not coincidentally where Nelson works — has adopted a mandatory mask policy for its crews. Other airlines around the world have adopted policies to give passengers and crews as much physical space onboard as possible.

But, even amid a historic downturn in travel demand, the occasional story about a crowded flight with few health-safety measures enacted continues to surface. Such scenes — like one on an American Airlines flight first reported by the New York Post earlier this week or another in Australia on Qantas last week — may become more common as states and countries move at different paces to ease social distancing restrictions.

Read more: Coronavirus may be making weather forecasts less accurate — and may even change the weather itself.

Nelson cautioned that until the virus is under control, airplanes are going to be a major vector for infection if stringent public health measures aren’t put in place around flights.

“While this global system is integral to our modern economy, its essential inter-connectedness also provides a convenient pathway for opportunistic pathogens to hitch rides on unsuspecting crewmembers and travelers and spread all over the world.”

Featured photo by Chandan Hkanna / AFP via Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.