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United requiring all flight attendants to wear face coverings or masks

April 23, 2020
3 min read
United requiring all flight attendants to wear face coverings or masks
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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."

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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:

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  • 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."

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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  • Annual Fee

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  • 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.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more