Face masks have now become essential travel accessories. Even during those few months when Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on indoor face mask use loosened, they were always required on flights. Now, facing a variant that’s more easily transmissible than the previous ones (Delta, not the airline), several airlines are enacting stricter requirements for the face masks worn on their flights.
The last thing you need right now is to show up at the airport and get turned away from your flight because you have the wrong type of mask. These rules are constantly changing, but here’s what we know for now, courtesy of an article by Alison Fox in Travel + Leisure.
Face masks on flights will be around for a while
Earlier this week, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) extended the current federal mask mandate until January 2022. This means that face coverings are required on all forms of public transportation, including on planes and in airports. And, of course, there’s always the possibility of another extension beyond January 2022.
Airlines that now have stricter face mask rules
Here’s a breakdown of what we’ve heard from a few different airlines on mask requirements so far:
- Delta Air Lines prohibits bandanas, scarves, masks with exhaust valves, and any masks with slits, punctures, or holes
- United Airlines prohibits bandanas, and requires wearing an actual face mask—not only a face shield
- Southwest prohibits bandanas, scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, and single-layer masks
- American Airlines prohibits balaclavas, bandanas, exhaust valves, scarves, and gaiters
- JetBlue prohibits masks connected to tubing or battery-operated filters
- Hawaiian Airlines prohibits scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, and bandanas
- Finn Air prohibits fabric face masks, and now only accepts surgical masks, valve-free FFP2 or FFP3 respirator masks, and N95 masks
- Air France prohibits fabric masks and masks with exhaust valves, and requires medical masks
- Lufthansa prohibits fabric masks and masks with exhaust valves, and requires medical masks
- LATAM Airlines prohibits fabric and reusable face masks on domestic flights within Chile, requiring surgical masks with three layers, KN95, or N95 masks. International passengers who are connecting in Lima also must double-up on face masks—even if they never leave the aircraft
Regardless of the airline, at this point, it’s a good idea to check their masking requirements the day of your flight just to be on the safe side.