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Mask Mandate on Planes: Which Airlines Still Require Face Masks — and Which Don't

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Monday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's travel mask mandate -- a mandate set to expire May 3 -- saying the CDC failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking procedures that left it fatally flawed.

Following the ruling, the Transportation Security Administration said it will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs at this time.

Subsequently, many airlines, international and domestic, weighed in on whether or not they'll continue mask requirements for passengers on planes.

Based on that ruling, here's a look at which major U.S. airlines are lifting their mask mandates for domestic flights.

US Airlines

American Airlines: Masks No Longer Required

"In accordance with the Transportation Security Administration no longer enforcing the federal face mask mandate," American Airlines said in a statement Monday. "Face masks will no longer be required for our customers and team members at U.S. airports and on domestic flights. Please note face masks may still be required based on local ordinances, or when traveling to/from certain international locations based on country requirements."

Alaska Airlines: Masks No Longer Required

"Face masks have been like boarding passes for nearly two years — you couldn’t fly without one," Alaska Airlines said in a statement. "But, as of today, masks are optional in airports and onboard aircraft, effective immediately." 

"Due to a judicial decision in our federal court system, the mask mandate has been overturned, which means our guests and employees have the option to wear a mask while traveling in the U.S. and at work."

Delta: Masks No Longer Required

"Following the ruling of a U.S. district court judge on Monday, the Biden administration announced that the Transportation Security Administration will no longer enforce the federal mandate requiring masks in all U.S. airports and on board aircraft," Delta said in a statement. "Effective immediately, masks are optional for all airport employees, crew members and customers inside U.S. airports and on board all aircraft domestically, as well as on most international flights."

Frontier Airlines: Masks No Longer Required

"To mask or not to mask, the choice is yours," Frontier said in a tweet. "Masks are now optional on domestic flights, however, certain airports or countries may still require masks, so check the policy at your destination prior to departure and we'll see you in the sky."

Hawaiian Airlines: Masks No Longer Required

In alignment with TSA’s Security Directive, as of April 18, 2022, face masks are now optional for our guests and employees onboard Hawaiian Airlines flights," Hawaiian Airlines said in a statement. "We advise travelers to stay informed and follow mask requirements that may remain in effect at their origin or arrival airports. Guests who wish to continue wearing face masks are welcome to do so."

Southwest Airlines: Masks No Longer Required

"Effective immediately, Southwest Employees and Customers will be able to choose whether they would like to wear a mask on flights, at domestic ​airports, and at some international locations," a statement from Southwest Airlines read.

Spirit Airlines: Masks No Longer Required

"We require all guests to complete a Health Acknowledgement at check-in," Spirit Airlines says. "The wearing of face coverings is now optional in domestic airports and on Spirit flights. However, local laws and regulations must be followed at all our international airports."

JetBlue: Masks No Longer Required

"In line with Monday’s federal court ruling and the Transportation Security Administration’s guidance, mask wearing will now be optional on JetBlue," a statement from the airline read. While no longer required, customers and crewmembers are welcome to continue wearing masks in our terminals and on board our aircraft."
"Regardless of the U.S. rule change, customers and crewmembers who are traveling internationally should always have a mask with them in case they continue to be required at their destination." 

United Airlines: Masks No Longer Required

"Effective immediately, masks are no longer required at United on domestic flights, select international flights (dependent upon the arrival country’s mask requirements) or at U.S. airports," United Airlines said in a statement Monday.

International Airlines

British Airways: It Depends

The airline allows customers to fly without masks if the destination they’re traveling to doesn’t require them. 

"For destinations where we have established that the wearing of a face covering is not mandated, you are able to make a personal choice, and we kindly request everyone respects each other's preferences," the airline said in its guidance.

easyJet: Masks No Longer Required

All flights between England, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Isle of Man, Denmark, Sweden, Gibraltar, Switzerland, Hungary, Iceland and Poland no longer require face coverings. 

Given differing policies for each destination, masks are necessary for all other flights. More information is available here

Jet2: Masks No Longer Required

Jet2 was the first airline to remove its mask requirements. Travelers no longer have to wear face coverings at the British carrier’s domestic airports or flights, the airline says in a statement.   

Norwegian: Masks No Longer Required 

Mandatory face masks are not required on flights across the Norwegian network, meaning passengers can choose whether they wear one on board. 

The airline notes that the use of face masks may still be required at various destinations and suggests checking policies before traveling. 

Virgin Atlantic: It Depends

The airline no longer requires face masks for passengers on routes where the destination and departure location of the plane does not require them locally, including the United States and the Caribbean.

Other routes still will require face coverings, as guidelines differ for each destination. This list is expected to expand as regulatory requirements for destinations change, according to the airline’s website. 

As of April 19, for the following routes operating to or from the UK, masks are still required for customers aged 12 and above until further notice: Delhi, Islamabad, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lahore, Lagos, Mumbai, Shanghai, Tel Aviv.

Tui: It Depends

On flights to or from England, Wales or Northern Ireland, the British airline said it’s no longer necessary to wear masks, but recommends bringing them. 

Passengers ages 2 and older must wear face coverings if they’re traveling to the U.S.

Are Masks Still Required at O'Hare and Midway Airports?

Masks are no longer required at O'Hare and Midway airport.

According to a statement released Tuesday from the Chicago Department of Aviation, which administers all aspects Chicago O'Hare and Midway International Airports, masks will no longer be required at both airports, effective immediately.

“In order to align with recent changes in state and federal guidelines, the Chicago Department of Aviation will no longer require masks at O’Hare and Midway International Airports,” officials said.

Illinois is currently under an executive order set to expire April 30 that does require masks in some pubic places like healthcare settings.

The order previously contained language saying that face masks were required on public transportation and in public transportation hubs across the state, but on Tuesday, that specific language was removed.

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