One week ago, the TSA ended the mask mandate on U.S. public transport after a Florida judge overturned it.
Many Americans were delighted at the news; others were less than impressed. So much so, that some travelers are seeking refunds for flights because they’re concerned about mask-free planes.
One passenger said: “Here we are, trapped in the sky with our eight-month-old unmasked baby (you can’t actually mask a baby that young) under the supposition that everyone who can be masked would be masked, and the flight 325 crew has taken our choices away from us. Very very angry about this.”
A divided topic this will always be, but some U.S.-based airlines have agreed to come to the table to give concerned passengers refunds.
1. United Airlines
The United CEO says passengers worried about mask-free planes “could get a refund.” Scott Kirby, the United Airlines CEO, said: “We are working with those customers … to find another option, give them a credit, or if they just don’t ever want to fly again, we are actually willing to give them a refund.”
“But like we do in all these events, we are taking a look at our policies and … asking them to get in touch with our reservations office, and we will make sure that we accommodate them in an appropriate fashion,”
He also suggested all United airlines customers—except those on the lowest level ‘basic economy’—could delay their journey with no extra fees if they’re worried about mask-free flights. He suggested passengers should call the customer service helpline to discuss the best options.
Scott Kirby also said: “The science really indicates – and we helped work on the studies – that an airplane, particularly due to the airflow, is literally the safest place you can be indoors and be around other people.”
“COVID is going to be with us, it’s going to be endemic and it’s going to be here a long time, but we’re learning to live with that, including in airports, in restaurants or at sporting events,” he added.
2. Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines have said they will “work with guests on a case-by-case basis if they’re not comfortable flying.”
They haven’t suggested they will allow every customer who is uncomfortable about mask-free flights to cancel/change their booking.
3. Southwest Airlines
The CEO of Southwest Airlines hailed the end of the plane mask mandate as a “great thing.” He added: “I’m just happy that our employees and customers have a choice now.”
“The data has told us over a long period of time here that customers are increasingly comfortable flying,”
“Taking every barrier that we can out of the process to bring back our travelers is terrific, and here’s one more barrier down.”
However, Southwest Airlines will allow all passengers to cancel tickets in exchange for flight credit.
4. Delta Airlines
Delta Airlines have said any customer looking to cancel a trip should contact the airline. The spokesman added that Delta makes all decisions on a case-by-case basis.
What About Other U.S. Airlines?
Some of the U.S.-based airlines have not yet come to the table with options for concerned passengers.
American Airlines said AAdvantage members may use their flight credits for travel through the end of 2022; however, any basic economy tickets purchased after March 31, 2021, are no longer eligible for any changes or refunds.
The airline added: “We work to accommodate customers in their individual situations and we do have an existing policy (pre-Covid) that makes exceptions for people with illnesses or health-related issues prior to traveling on American,”
American Airlines didn’t suggest they would allow refunds or changes if passengers didn’t want to fly on mask-free flights.
Many U.S. airlines haven’t yet commented on refunds due to mask policies.
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