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

April 24, 2020
3 min read
Flight attendants union wants mandatory mask usage, suspension of leisure travel
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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.

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"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 image by AFP via Getty Images

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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    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.

    670-850
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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases