More airlines announce stricter face mask policies
Despite no mandate from the federal government, airlines continue to get tougher with their face mask requirements this summer, with Alaska Airlines, JetBlue and Spirit Airlines among the carriers adopting a new policy of no mask, no travel, no exceptions moving forward.
Effective Friday, all Alaska passengers age 2 and older will be required to wear a cloth mask or an approved face covering over both their nose and mouth. Those travelers who are unwilling or unable to cover up will not be allowed to travel, regardless of the reason.
Meanwhile, Spirit's requirement that customers with the exception of infants and toddlers wear a mask from check-in through baggage claim took effect Wednesday, while JetBlue will enforce its updated policy from Monday.
Alaska, JetBlue and Spirit are also the latest airlines to ban face coverings with direct exhaust valves _ joining Delta Air Lines _ in addition to masks that don't fully cover the nose and mouth such as bandanas that aren't secure below the chin and face shields worn without a mask. Acceptable face coverings must be made from cloth or other barrier material that protects against the release of respiratory droplets.
Passengers refusing to wear a mask after boarding risk suspension from future travel, according to all three carriers.
"We decided to remove exemptions to further protect our team members and guests on board and give them greater peace of mind," Spirit said in a statement. "Guests who travel with us and choose not to comply with our face-covering requirement will lose future flight privileges with Spirit."
"We all need to look out for each other during this health emergency, and the best way we can do that _ and prevent the spread of the virus _ is to simply wear a mask or face covering when we're around each other," said Max Tidwell, Alaska Airlines' vice president of safety and security, in a statement. "Safety remains priority No. 1 for Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. Our tougher policy shows how important this issue is to us and our guests. If you don't wear a mask, you won't be flying with us."
Last month, Delta encouraged anyone unable to wear a proper mask due to a health condition to reconsider travel but will allow those individuals to complete a virtual medical evaluation with STAT-MD prior to departure to determine whether they are fit to fly and can do so without a mask.