If you think you can get away without wearing a mask during a flight with U.S. airlines, you may want to think again. More than 700 passengers-to-date have been banned for refusing to have a face covering since the domestic carriers mandate went into effect in early spring. Just like many restaurants and other retailers stipulate, U.S. domestic airlines have adopted their version of ‘no shoes, no shirt, no service.’
Leading the way, not surprisingly, is Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, which currently has more than 270 travelers on its no-fly list. Delta has been the most adamant airline about wearing a face mask, stating multiple times that the rule is in place to protect not only other passengers, but its airport employees, cockpit and cabin crew. Other airlines reporting their banned traveler numbers include United with 150, Spirit with 128, Frontier with 106, American with 78 and Hawaiian Air with six. American and Southwest also ban customers who refuse to wear a mask, but so far have not reported how many people that entails.
Delta made national news a few weeks ago when former Navy Seal Robert O’Neill, who claims that he personally killed Osama Bin Laden during the raid on his hideout, openly defied the airline’s mask wearing rule on a flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Newark (EWR). He has since been indefinitely banned from flying with the airline.
Unfortunately, airlines cannot fine mandate violators as there is no federal regulation requiring passengers to wear a mask. The airlines as a group, to no avail, has repeatedly asked the federal government to impose such a requirement, much like the national no-smoking ban on airliners.
The mask policy is expected to remain in effect with all U.S. airlines until the COVID19 pandemic is controlled, or a vaccine is widely available. Travelers banned by an airline may still fly with other carriers, as the banned travel list is not shared between carriers.