FlyersRights.org, the largest airline passenger organization, formally submitted a rulemaking petition to the Department of Transportation to mandate mask wearing by all persons on planes and at airports. The DOT has just published the rulemaking petition, even though the petition was submitted 9 days ago on August 4, 2020.
In April, the CDC recommended the wearing of masks in public settings, especially when social distancing is hard to maintain. Air travel requires the close gathering of people from various parts of the country. DOT has acknowledged the need for mask wearing, among other safety precautions, in its joint guidance with DHS and HHS titled “Runway to Recovery.” DOT published this guidance in early July, forcing airlines and airports to develop their own policies during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paul Hudson, President of FlyersRights.org, explained “Air travel is an area where the federal government and DOT have exclusive jurisdiction. DOT understands the benefits of a mask rule but inexplicably is putting lives in danger by not exercising its authority and responsibility to protect the public and air travel. DOT must implement a mask rule on an emergency basis immediately.”
FlyersRights.org has demanded the DOT, airlines, and IATA implement various health protocols, including mask wearings, as soon as leading public health organizations recommended them, going back to mid-March.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the largest flight attendants union, also submitted its own rulemaking petition for a mask rule.