Jet2 becomes first airline to scrap face masks on flights
Jet2 has become the first U.K. airline to scrap the requirement to wear masks on its planes.
The budget carrier relaxed its rules on March 1, telling passengers they can now fly barefaced for the duration of its flights after the U.K. lifted all COVID-19 protection measures last month.
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The airline did, however, warn travelers that wearing masks is still mandatory in many airports across the world and recommended that travelers continue to carry them in case they’re needed upon arrival at their destination.
Because of this, the airline also asked passengers to wear their masks for takeoffs and landings in foreign countries. This is because, while a plane is governed by the laws of its registered nation during a flight, it becomes subject to local jurisdiction as soon as it touches down.
“It’s no longer a legal requirement to wear a face mask at our airports or onboard our planes,” Jet2 said in a statement on its website. “However, as per U.K. government guidance, we recommend that you continue to wear a face mask in these spaces, and you will need to wear one when you get to your overseas destination.”
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The guidance does not, however, apply to flights to and from Scotland, where mask-wearing is still compulsory in airports. “This is the case even if you’re fully vaccinated,” the statement added.
The announcement was met with mixed reactions on social media.
"Well done #Jet2 for following the rules on no masks needed, come on #Ryanair #wizz #easyjet let’s follow the guidelines laid out in the law," tweeted one jubilant traveler.
Another wrote: "@jet2tweets have now become my airline of choice. Well done for getting rid of masks on board. I’ve never flown with you but I’m Googling flights right now ✈️"
Others, however, were less excited about the move.
"Just because you can doesn't mean you should," wrote Jeff Noon. "Interesting to see if anyone keeps it because they see a commercial advantage. Also wonder how long before Jet2 has to cancel flights because their staff are off with Covid."
Jet2 is the U.K.'s third-largest airline, flying from ten U.K. airports to more than 60 destinations across Europe. "Since our first flight in 2003, we've grown our fleet with the delivery of 34 brand-new Boeing 737-800NG planes and order of 36 new Airbus A321neo planes," its website boasts. "We’ve also sold more than 96 million seats!"
It remains to be seen whether other airlines will follow suit. The Points Guy understands that British Airways has taken the view that it is easier to just ask passengers to keep their masks on throughout flights given the many different countries in which the airline operates worldwide.
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EasyJet is also clear on its position regarding masks. "Face masks must be worn at the airport, at the gate when boarding the aircraft and throughout the flight," its website said. "Passengers not wearing a mask will not be able to board the aircraft."
Tui, meanwhile, strikes a softer but similar tone: "It's really important that everyone age 12 and over wears a mask throughout their journey, even if they’re fully vaccinated."
Since the government lifted all rules protecting Britain from the spread of COVID-19 last month, airports across the country have begun to remove requirements to wear masks and switch to guidance instead.
Manchester, for instance, says that it "strongly recommends the wearing of face coverings in all parts of the airport campus, including on airport buses". Heathrow, on the other hand, still insists on its website that "wearing a face covering will still be required while in our terminals unless you are exempt".
And just because masks are no longer mandatory on Jet2 flights, in most European countries -- including Spain, France, Portugal, Italy and Germany -- they remain a compulsory part of everyday life.