LIST | Airlines making masking optional after federal judge ruling

Travel Mask Mandate
Posted at 9:35 PM, Apr 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 17:46:38-04

A federal judge in Florida voided the national mask mandate covering airplanes and other public transportation as exceeding the authority of U.S. health officials.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of Tampa also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention improperly failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rule making.

The White House announced it will be reviewing the decision but confirmed the Transportation Security Administration will stop enforcing a mask mandate.

Late Monday, Tampa International Airport announced masks are now optional throughout airport property effective immediately.

On Tuesday, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport also announced masks would be optional.

In response, airlines have issued revisions to their safety guidelines for passengers. At this time, airlines like Allegiant, Breeze, and Frontier, among others have yet to revise their policy on their respective websites.

This list will be updated as airlines may revise their respective policies.

Here's a list on updated guidance:

Alaska Airlines
"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."

American Airlines
"American Airlines has prioritized the health and safety of its team members and customers throughout the pandemic and has supported the federal government’s measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. "

"In accordance with the Transportation Security Administration no longer enforcing the federal face mask mandate, face masks will no longer be required for our customers and team members at U.S. airports and on domestic flights."

"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."

"Delta employees and customers may continue wearing masks if they so choose. Wearing a well-fitting mask protects the wearer, even if others around them are not wearing masks."

"In line with Monday’s federal court ruling and the Transportation Security Administration’s guidance, mask wearing will now be optional on JetBlue. 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."

"On Monday, a federal judge issued a decision stating the federal mask mandate for public transportation, including on airlines and at airports, is no longer in effect. Thereafter, the White House announced the masking order is not in effect, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will not enforce the federal mask mandate at this time."

"As a result of this development, effectively immediately, Southwest Employees and Customers will be able to choose whether they would like to wear a mask, and we encourage individuals to make the best decision to support their personal wellbeing."

United Airlines
"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."

"While this means that our employees are no longer required to wear a mask – and no longer have to enforce a mask requirement for most of the flying public – they will be able to wear masks if they choose to do so, as the CDC continues to strongly recommend wearing a mask on public transit."

Spirit Airlines
"Face coverings are now optional for Spirit Team Members & Guests onboard our flights following the federal court ruling and TSA guidance. We understand some Guests may want to continue wearing face coverings on flights, and that's perfectly fine under our optional policy. For our Guests traveling internationally, please remember to check country-specific airport requirements before traveling."

Tampa International Airport employees spent several hours between Monday night and Tuesday yanking down mask requirement signs. The airport will continue its enhanced cleaning protocols and is encouraging everyone to make the best decisions regarding their own health.

Tampa International Airport passengers have various opinions on the new rulings.

Patsy Giacona supports the change in mask policy, especially since he said it's been difficult flying with young kids and ensuring they wear their masks.

"It has been extremely difficult. It was every 5 mins 'hey, put your mask on, hey put your mask on' so this is much easier and a better experience," he said.

Kathy Hunt, does not support the change in mask policy. She said she and her husband are at a higher risk if they contract COVID-19.

“I do think it’s jumping the gun. I think the numbers of cases of COVID are going up again and I think it’s too soon," she explained.

Megan Straub, her husband and daughter decided to wear their masks Tuesday on their flight from Tampa to Chicago, despite the change.

“I feel like for travel it’s too early to loosen mask rules. I feel like people are coming and going from everywhere and things are spreading and you don’t know where people are coming in from or if they’ve been exposed. I’m not too worried about my own community but when you’re some place international like this, I just feel like you need to take that step to protect yourself," she added.

Meanwhile Jeffrey Mercado, who just flew back to Tampa from Mexico, said he was overjoyed when he found out he wouldn't need to wear a mask on his international trip.

“Couldn’t have come soon enough. We were super happy. We got on the plane, I was wearing a mask and said do I still need to wear this? The flight attendant said only if you choose to and after I took it off everyone started taking them off around me so you know it was welcome," he elaborated.

Emily Nipps, the Tampa International Airport spokesperson, said the change will relieve some responsibilities thrust onto airport workers two years ago.

“Certainly there were a lot of resources on the mask enforcement. Our guest services team, our police were doing the best they could to enforce the masks and it takes up resources from other things that might be happening or need attention in an airport. There's a lot of people who come through here so it alleviates some of the pressure on those resources," she said.

Tampa International Airport is asking passengers to respect others choices whether to wear a mask or not.