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Airlines respond to new ruling dropping mask requirement for transport

With the White House acknowledging the mandate is no longer in effect, airlines are now updating travelers and new guidelines for air travel.

WASHINGTON — After a federal judge struck down the federal mask mandate covering air travel and other public transportation Monday, major U.S. airlines are confirming that masks are now optional for passengers on most flights. 

Likewise, the White House has acknowledged that the mandate is “is not in effect at this time," but added that federal agencies are currently deciding how to respond to the judge’s order. 

United Airlines said in a statement that both employees and passengers will no longer be required to wear face coverings onboard all domestic flights, effective immediately. Some international flights could still require passengers and crew to wear face masks depending on the arrival country's mask policy, the airline added. 

United said that passengers will still have the option to wear a mask as current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines strongly recommend wearing a mask on public transit.

American Airlines also said it will no longer be required on domestic flights, but may be required on some flights if local or international rules require it.

Alaska Airlines passengers will also no longer be required to wear face masks, according to a statement on the company's website.

"It has been a long 24 months with nearly constant change. I could not be prouder of our frontline employees who have handled every pivot focusing on safety and the care we’re known for,” said Max Tidwell, VP of safety & security at Alaska Airlines. “We’re also thankful for our guests who remained considerate, patient and stood by us throughout every twist and turn.”   

In a press release, Delta Air Lines said that employees and passengers are also no longer required to wear masks onboard planes or at U.S. airports. The airline added: "We are relieved to see the U.S. mask mandate lift to facilitate global travel as COVID-19 has transitioned to an ordinary seasonal virus."   

Delta also urged passengers to be patient with the new guidance for at least 24 hours as not all airline and federal employees may be hearing about the change right away.

Southwest Airlines announced that because the TSA is no longer enforcing the policy, employees and passengers will similarly no longer be required to wear face masks. 

Amtrak also said passengers and employees are no longer required to wear masks on trains or in stations, but are welcome to do so if they wish.

Frontier Airlines, Allegiant Air, Spirit Airlines and JetBlue have yet to comment on the policy change, and their websites still indicate that masks are required as per the now-defunct mandate. 


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