Following JetBlue's lead, Delta, United and American will all require travelers to wear face masks on board their planes – and in Delta's case, in lounges and throughout the airport – starting as soon as next Monday.
JetBlue was the first major U.S. airline to announce a policy requiring face coverings – that policy takes effect Monday, May 4. And American Airlines had already announced it would begin provide masks to passengers boarding planes, but wouldn't make them mandatory.
Canada imposed such a requirement for air travel earlier in April. But while the Centers for Disease Control has recommended wearing a face mask or cloth face cover in public spaces and the largest U.S. flight attendants' union has asked regulators to require them on flights, the U.S. hasn't yet followed suit.
Instead, airlines are doing so on their own.
Delta will begin requiring face masks for passengers starting Monday, May 4. Passengers will be required to have a face covering in place at check-in desks, in Delta Sky Clubs, at the boarding gate, inside jet bridges, and on the plane. Only small children are exempt.
“While we remain committed to our new standard of clean and to providing more space for our customers when they travel, we take seriously the CDC guidelines for adding this extra layer of protection. We believe this change will give customers and employees some additional comfort when traveling with us,” Bill Lentsch, Delta's chief customer experience officer, said in a statement.
Delta says customers should bring their own masks but “supplies will be available for customers who need them. ”
United will also make face masks mandatory starting Monday, May 4. Earlier this week, the Chicago-based airline said it would begin providing passengers with face masks but wouldn't require them to be worn. But after similar announcements from Delta and American, United changed its mind.
Meanwhile, American's new requirement will go live starting Monday, May 11. The airline's announcement mentions face masks being mandatory only on American flights – not other spaces.
“The American Airlines team continues to prioritize the safety of our customers and team members, and requiring a face covering is one more way we can protect those on our aircraft,” said Kurt Stache, American's senior vice president of customer experience.
None of the airlines spells out any consequences for failing to wear a face mask or covering.
Whether the government requires it or not, face masks will soon become commonplace on flights in the U.S.