Airlines stepping up mask enforcement on flights


HONOLULU (KHON2) — With COVID-19 spiking across the U.S., airlines are rolling out stricter rules when it comes to face coverings and masks.

One of the recent airlines to announce an enforcement change is Alaska Airlines.

“Unfortunately, our flight crews encounter moments when some travelers disobey or just disregard our mask requirement, and so it creates some tension and anxiety for passengers who do have their face coverings on,” said Daniel Chun, Alaska Airlines spokesperson.

That is why Alaska Airlines developed yellow cards, which let passengers who repeatedly refuse to wear a mask know a report will be made. This could result in a suspension from future travel on the airline.

“It’s something we needed to put in place because we were getting a lot of feedback from our guests that they didn’t feel comfortable when they sat next to someone who didn’t put their mask on,” said Chun.

It’s also a way for flight attendants to firmly communicate the final warning.

However, Chun said that people will be allowed to remove their masks when they eat or drink during the flight, but they have to put it back on right after they are done.

Exceptions will also be made for people who are unable to wear a mask due to a disability, medical condition or children under the age of 2.

Alaska Airlines joins others like American Airlines and Delta Airlines, which said they may ban people from future flights if they don’t comply to face mask rules.

Some airlines are even taking action before people get onboard. Hawaiian Airlines said it won’t let anyone board the plane without a mask or face covering, unless they have a disability or medical condition that prevents them from doing so.

But once on the plane, people can take off their masks when they sit down.

“We don’t have a strict policy of if you don’t put your mask back on you’re not going to be allowed to fly on Hawaiian airlines, said Jaci-Ann Chung, local executive president for Hawaiian Airlines Flight Attendants in Honolulu.

Chung said even though it is not required, most passengers opt to keep their masks on.

Earlier in the year, flight attendants had to fight to be allowed to wear masks in-flight.

Chung said since then, the airline has added new safety measures.

“We were kind of really on the front line in terms of… I think January [and] February [is] when we were starting to push for these safety provisions, and now more and more are getting implemented, and I think it’s a good thing,” said Chung.

She said different airlines have different policies when it comes to masks and social distancing, so people need to check before they book a flight.

“We’re all trying to feel it out and I think the airlines are trying to find a policy that really works for their company but also their passengers,” said Chung.

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