United requiring all flight attendants to wear face coverings or masks

Apr 23, 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.

Earlier this month, United Airlines shared a video featuring a repatriation flight, bringing Australians home from San Francisco to Melbourne. The flight took place after the Centers for Disease Control initially recommended wearing “cloth face coverings in public settings,” so I was surprised to see that although most of the passengers had their faces covered, not a single flight attendant appeared to be doing so.

Fortunately, the airline has since reversed course, and is even leading the way when it comes to this important protective measure. As of tomorrow, April 24, all United flight attendants will be required to wear a face covering or mask while on duty — either a surgical mask, which the airline will provide, or an employee’s own cloth mask. JetBlue has asked flight attendants to wear face masks in public as well.

In a note to employees, United acknowledges that it may not always be possible for flight attendants to cover their faces, for example, “during taxi, takeoff, landing, or crew rest, you may need to remove your mask to perform your responsibilities (e.g. making an announcement). In decompression situations, you will need to remove your face covering and don an oxygen mask.”

United will board surgical masks for each flight attendant, though the airline asks that crew members only take one for each work day, and carry theirs along to a connecting flight. Additionally, N95 masks are available, but “should only be used for customers showing symptoms and for the flight attendants providing direct assistance.”

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

While face masks can give the wearer a false sense of security, United acknowledges that “wearing a face covering alone will not prevent you from getting sick.” The airline recommends the following additional precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home while you are sick
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • If you use a tissue, discard it right away and wash your hands
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces

As with other U.S. carriers, United is also taking extra steps to sanitize aircraft, including using electrostatic sprayers on wide-body aircraft arriving from international aircraft, with additional measures following flights that carried a passenger or crew member exhibiting coronavirus symptoms.

United’s move comes on the same day that the Association of Flight Attendants — the world’s largest flight attendant union that also represents United’s attendants — asked the government to “mandate” the use of masks for flight crews and passengers.

“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,” AFA president Sara Nelson said in a letter to both Department of Transportation secretary Elaine Chao and Department of Health Human Services secretary Alex Azar. “In addition, passengers on all modes of public transport should be encouraged to wear masks in the short term and mandated by emergency regulation as soon as practicable.”

Featured photo courtesy of United Airlines.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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.