Skip to content

United and American may ban passengers who don't wear masks

June 16, 2020
4 min read
United and American may ban passengers who don't wear masks
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.

American and United Airlines are stepping up their mask policy enforcement.

Both airlines announced on Monday that all passengers will be required to wear masks per existing rules, but now those who refuse will face real consequences.

Beginning June 16 at American and June 18 at United, any passenger who does not wear a mask while traveling could be flagged for each airline's list of restricted flyers, possibly causing them to be barred from flying with the carrier again.

United offered slightly more details in announcing its policy, saying that the travel prohibition would last for a period of time that will be determined by the company after a "comprehensive incident review."

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

Both airlines have technically required passengers to wear masks onboard since May, but many U.S. carriers had reportedly advised crews not to be heavy-handed in enforcing the policy and risk an in-flight incident with a passenger that refused to comply.

Now, the companies seem ready to bring down the hammer on unmasked flyers.

“Every reputable heath institution says wearing a mask is one of the most effective things people can do to protect others from contracting COVID-19, especially in places like an aircraft where social distancing is a challenge," Toby Enqvist, United’s chief customer officer said in a statement. "Today’s announcement is an unmistakable signal that we’re prepared to take serious steps, if necessary, to protect our customers and crew.”

Read more: Airline unions say government is failing flyers by not implement coronavirus rules.

Sign up for our daily newsletter
(Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

Both airlines will permit passengers to fly without a mask if they have a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing one. And all travelers can temporarily remove their masks to eat, drink or take medicine.

United also provided a few more details about exactly how the policy will be enforced. Passengers who refuse to wear a mask will be reminded by cabin crews of the airline's policy, and those who continue not to refuse to wear a mask could eventually be flagged for possible future travel restrictions.

"Any final decision or actions regarding a customer’s future flight benefits will not occur onboard but instead take place after the flight has reached its destination and the security team has investigated the incident," the airline said in a press release.

Related: Sanitizer with your Stroopwafel? Many airlines are now providing cleaning supplies to passengers.

The policy updates by American and United's policy updates coincided with a Monday announcement from the Airlines for America (A4A) trade group, which said many of its members were stepping up enforcement of their onboard mask policies.

According to A4A, members would all enforce their mask requirements more strenuously and increase efforts to notify passengers about the rules before they travel. A4A represents big U.S. carriers, including American, Delta, Southwest and United

Related: United Airlines to mortgage MileagePlus for coronavirus funds, anticipates no impact to members.

Among current efforts: some airlines now require customers to acknowledge mask policies during check-in along with onboard announcements about the rules.

“U.S. airlines are very serious about requiring face coverings on their flights. Carriers are stepping up enforcement of face coverings and implementing substantial consequences for those who do not comply with the rules,” A4A president and CEO Nicholas Calio said in a statement. “Face coverings are one of several public health measures recommended by the CDC as an important layer of protection for passengers and customer-facing employees.”

Related: DOT will distribute almost 100 million face masks across the transportation sector.

For its part Southwest has required passengers to wear masks onboard since May 1, and said it will continue to bar passengers without a mask from boarding.

TPG has reached out to Delta to see if there are any changes to their mask policy enforcement practices. This post will be updated as that information becomes available.

United aircraft are seen at Newark Liberty Airport on March 23, 2018. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

This story was originally published on June 15, 2020 and was updated to reflect the new policy at American Airlines.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of United Airlines)

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
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.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • 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
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023