federal mask mandate

Travel Mask Mandate: Masks No Longer Required on These US Airlines

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Monday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle voided the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's current national mask mandate on airplanes and mass public transit.

The 59-page ruling from the Florida judge said the CDC failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking procedures that left it fatally flawed.

The CDC had recently extended a federal mask mandate on public transit and in public transportation hubs until May 3, to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the U.S.

Regarding the ruling, a White House administration official on Monday said, "The agencies are reviewing the decision and assessing potential next steps. In the meantime, today’s court decision means CDC’s public transportation masking order is not in effect at this time.

Therefore, TSA will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs at this time."

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

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.

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

Per the previous mask mandate, masks were required by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which meant masks were required to be worn at airports.

However, when Judge Mizelle voided the mandate, that changed.

Regarding the ruling, a White House administration official on Monday said, "The agencies are reviewing the decision and assessing potential next steps. In the meantime, today’s court decision means CDC’s public transportation masking order is not in effect at this time.

Therefore, TSA will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs at this time."

According to a statement from The Chicago Department of Aviation, which administers all aspects Chicago O'Hare and Midway International Airports, the CDA is following federal, state and local guidance.

"The CDA will continue to follow, observe and enforce all current and future guidance by federal, state and local health and security authorities. For additional information on the federal mask mandate for public transportation, please refer to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)."

O'Hare and Midway Airports both tweeted Tuesday that they will continue to follow an executive order in Illinois requiring masks on public transportation. That order remains in effect through at least the end of April.

Are Masks Still Required on Chicago Public Transportation?

Right now, some agencies are requiring them, and others are not. Here's a breakdown:

  • CTA: Still required. "Masks are still required on CTA trains and buses," CTA said in an email to NBC Chicago Monday. "If that requirement changes, we will notify customers."
  • Metra: Still required. "We are not making any immediate changes to the mask requirement while we assess the situation," Metra said in an email to NBC Chicago Monday.
  • Pace: Still required.
  • South Shore Line, operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District: Not required. The line says that it will eliminate its mask mandate after the court ruling.

Are Masks Required in Rideshares in Chicago?

Uber: Not required. According to a statement from Uber, "As of April 19, 2022, riders and drivers are not required to wear masks when using Uber. However, the CDC still recommends wearing a mask if you have certain personal risk factors and/or high transmission levels in your area."

Lyft: As of Tuesday morning, Lyft did not issue a statement on the ruling.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

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