With mandates for travel and airport masks set to be lifted in the US next month, the flight attendants union is pushing the Biden administration to extend the requirement until more people are vaccinated.
In a statement, the Flight Attendants Association-CWA said the Transportation Security Administration’s plan to raise mask requirements on March 18 would put at risk medically vulnerable travelers and passengers under the age of 5, who have not been authorized by federal health authorities to get the vaccine.
“The multi-layered approach to safety and security includes masks,” the union said in a statement on Tuesday.
If the mask mandate is rescinded next month as planned, it will come weeks after local and state authorities lifted mask mandates across the country as cases of the novel coronavirus decline. The federal government regulates air travel, however, mask requirements on planes remain in place.
The Biden administration imposed a mask rule on flights a year ago During the brutal rise in cases across the country before vaccines were widely available. Those who did not comply were fines. Officials extended the mandate twice As deadly waves of the virus continue to sweep the nation.
TSA spokeswoman Patricia Mancha said Tuesday night that mask validity is on track to expire on March 18, despite previous extensions. “If there is a change to stop or extend the mask requirement, we will make an announcement,” she said in an email. “So far, there is nothing new to share.”
Many flight crews faced this looming deadline with apprehension.
Disagreements over the masks and the refusal of some passengers to wear them has led to repeated shouting matches, fights and other problems with unruly passengers during the pandemic. From January 1 to February 15, the FAA received approximately 400 reports of troubled passengers, including 255 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal mandate that they wear masks on planes.
Last month, a man boarded a Delta Airlines flight from Dublin to New York who refused to wear a mask He pulled down his pants, exposing his buttocks. Nearly two weeks later, American Airlines flight to London from Miami He turned around an hour on his journey Because a passenger refused to wear a mask.
However, many flight attendants support maintaining mask requirements. “It is also important that we maintain passenger confidence in the safety of air travel,” the association, which represents 50,000 flight attendants on 20 airlines, said in its statement.
Last week, the Republican Attorney General of Texas File a lawsuit against mask authorization On public transport, including on planes and airports.
Some airline executives have questioned the effectiveness of masks on planes. at Senate session in December“The case is too strong for the masks to add much, if anything, to the aerodynamic cabin environment,” said Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly.
A few days later, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, Travelers urged to wear face masks At airports and during flights.