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Airlines creating and enforcing their own safety standards led to confusion, uneven enforcement, and put passenger and employee lives at risk

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  • President Biden was clear that a mask rule was just one of the policies that the DOT and FAA should implement to halt the spread of COVID-19 in air travel
  • DOT and FAA must consider enhanced social distancing policies, temperature checks, rapid COVID-19 testing, and a suspension of change and cancellation fees
  • Throughout 2020, US DOT declined to mandate mask-wearing, social distancing, or other COVID-19 protocols

Flyers Rights released its COVID-19 Mitigation Policy Memorandum, advising the White House, Department of Transportation, and Federal Aviation Administration on important mask rule considerations and other air travel policies to slow the spread of Covid-19 and make air travel safer for everyone. 

Paul Hudson, President of FlyersRights.org explained, “President Biden was clear that a mask rule was just one of the policies that the DOT and FAA should implement to halt the spread of Covid-19 in air travel. The DOT and FAA must consider enhanced social distancing policies, temperature checks, rapid COVID-19 testing, and a suspension of change and cancellation fees“

Flyers Rights’ memorandum recommends a DOT rule prohibiting airlines from putting passengers in middle seats. While many airlines at one point adopted this as a policy, only Delta Air Lines has an active middle-seat blocking policy, set to expire at the end of March. 

Throughout 2020, the DOT declined to mandate mask-wearing, social distancing, or other Covid-19 protocols. As a result, airlines and airports each devised their own self-enforced policies. Paul Hudson noted, “The Biden Administration’s mask mandate is a welcomed change of policy and a great start in making air travel safer. Airlines creating and enforcing their own safety standards led to confusion, uneven enforcement, and put passenger and employee lives at risk.”

On the new mask rule, Paul Hudson cautioned, “The mask rule is not clear on the penalties for both passengers and airlines, how passengers are to be warned, and how passengers with disabilities or health conditions can obtain waivers from the mandate.”    

FlyersRights.org is the leading passenger organization on issues of passenger safety and health. The memorandum explores policies that would encourage passengers to alter their travel plans if they suspect they are ill, prevent more COVID-infected passengers from flying, and reduce the risk of transmission during the flight and at critical points in the airport. 

The policy memorandum can be accessed at: https://flyersrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Flyers-Rights-Covid-19-Mitigation-Policy-Memorandum-01.29.21.pdf

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