American, United Airlines strengthen coronavirus face-covering policies

United said that starting June 18, passengers who do not wear a face covering will be placed on an internal travel restriction list

U.S. airlines are upping their enforcement of face-covering policies, and in some cases say passengers who refuse to comply might not be allowed to fly or could have their flying privileges temporarily revoked.

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American and United had already begun requiring passengers and flight attendants to wear face coverings while onboard aircraft to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

American said it already enforces the policy at the gate and "will deny boarding to customers who don’t comply." However, effective immediately, the airline "may also deny future travel for customers who refuse to wear a face covering."

Meanwhile, United said that starting June 18, passengers who do not wear a face covering will be placed on an internal travel restriction list.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
AALAMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC.13.74-0.26-1.82%
UALUNITED AIRLINES HLDG.36.91-0.63-1.67%

"Customers on this list will lose their travel privileges on United for a duration of time to be determined pending a comprehensive incident review," United said, adding that it expects to uphold the policy for at least the next 60 days.

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Under United's new policy, if a customer is found onboard not wearing a face covering, the flight attendant will "proactively inform the customer that for the health and safety of everyone, face coverings are mandatory for all customers and crew on board," and will also offer the customer a mask if needed. If the customer continues to be non-compliant, the flight attendant will file a report of the incident, "which will initiate a formal review process," United said.

American and United announced the change in conjunction with Airlines for America, the industry trade organization representing leading U.S. carriers, to increase the enforcement requiring passengers and customer-facing employees to wear face coverings.

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“U.S. airlines are very serious about requiring face coverings on their flights. Carriers are stepping up enforcement of face coverings and implementing substantial consequences for those who do not comply with the rules,” Airlines for America CEO Nicholas Calio said in a statement. “Face coverings are one of several public health measures recommended by the CDC as an important layer of protection for passengers and customer-facing employees.”

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The trade group, which also represents Alaska, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue and Southwest, warned that each carrier will "determine the appropriate consequences for passengers who are found to be in noncompliance."

Coverings are required for the duration of the flight unless passengers are eating or drinking.

Passengers that are exempt from American and United's face covering requirements include young children and passengers with a disability or medical condition that prevents them from being able to wear a covering.

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