Flight attendant union calls for federal enforcement to airline’s mask policy

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The governor said people should not travel to the mainland but said neighbor island flights are not as risky if safety measures are followed by passengers, but enforcing them could be a challenge for crew members.

While most flight passengers follow COVID-19 safety rules set by the airlines, KHON2 News viewers have reached out with concerns over some who remove their required face-covering.

Hawaiian Airlines said flight attendants monitor and remind guests to keep the masks on. A spokesperson said not complying will affect a traveler’s ability to fly with the airline.

Governor David Ige said these regulations should be followed to keep passengers and crew members safe.

Ige said, “It is still safe to travel inter-island as long as you take the common-sense precautions, social distancing and stay physically six feet away from people, wear your face covering at all times.”

Enforcing the policies by the airlines may be a challenge for flight attendants without a mandate from the federal government that backs them.

Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said federal agencies in charge of overseeing aviation could set penalties for passengers who refuse to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

“There should be a mandate that also comes with consequences like any other issue onboard,” Nelson said. “Just like if you were smoking on the plane or if you were failing to comply with safety instructions from a crew member and interfering with our duties to keep everyone else safe.”

Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines have exceptions to the face-cover rule for young children and passengers with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask. Passengers can temporarily remove their masks for eating or drinking.

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