“Customers on this list will lose their travel privileges on United for a duration of time to be determined pending a comprehensive incident review.” It’s about time.
United Airlines took a major step in the enforcement of face mask policies when traveling. Following the Airlines for America announcement today which indicated substantially more “rigor” being placed on face mask policies, United dropped its own piece of news highlighting the specific actions they are taking on face mask violators.
In the release, the spell out a very clear new policy:
“…starting on June 18, any passenger that does not comply when onboard a United flight will be placed on an internal travel restriction list. Customers on this list will lose their travel privileges on United for a duration of time to be determined pending a comprehensive incident review.”
Previously, United Airlines’ face mask policy was one of the more comprehensive in the industry, however, like most airline face masks policies before today it lacked teeth. In fact, this was something we recently lampooned in our updated list of COVID-19 travel memes.
The United Announcement further describes how serious United now is with United’s Chief Customer Officer, Toby Enqvist, stating:
“Every reputable heath institution says wearing a mask is one of the most effective things people can do to protect others from contracting COVID-19, especially in places like an aircraft where social distancing is a challenge. We have been requiring our customers to wear masks onboard United aircraft since May 4 and we have been pleased that the overwhelming majority of passengers readily comply with our policy. Today’s announcement is an unmistakable signal that we’re prepared to take serious steps, if necessary, to protect our customers and crew.“
The argument for widespread enforcement on flights has been about the practicality of the matter. Do you drag the person off the flight? Divert the flight? Delay the flight? How do you deal with a passenger who is not compliant.
United thinks it has a method. Essentially, if a passenger is found to be in violation of the policy in-flight, the FA will attempt to work with the passenger, including potentially handing them a card reminding them of the policy. If the passenger continues to be non-compliant, the FA will write up the incident after the flight. Their policy note:
“Any final decision or actions regarding a customer’s future flight benefits will not occur onboard but instead take place after the flight has reached its destination and the security team has investigated the incident.”
If applicable, the passenger could be placed on an internal travel restriction list that may prevent that passenger from traveling on the airline again in the future.
To be clear, this is NOT the “official No-Fly list” maintained by the US Government, but sort of an internal, United-only no-fly list.
For one, we think this is a great step in the right direction. There’s really no good reason not to wear a mask right now while flying and the inconsistency in enforcement will only create opportunities for drama.
While this is a “good” step in the right direction, a better step would be uniform requirement by the federal government. This brings its own set of challenges regarding implementation, but it would likely increase the “take rate” of compliant passengers.
Bottom line? Wearing your mask is the right thing to do right now. Just shut up and do it.
See our other Airline Face Mask Policies here
- US DOT giving out free masks to travelers
- Delta Face Mask Policy
- Southwest Face Mask Policy
- United Airlines Face Mask Policy
- Spirit Face Mask Policy
- British Airways Face Mask Policy
- Where to buy a Face Mask for Travel
- See all Face Mask Policies here