Alaska Airlines will issue yellow cards, similar to what a soccer match referee might use, to passengers who refuse to wear a face mask, warning them they could be banned from future travel if they don’t comply with the mandatory policy. The yellow card, which will be issued by flight attendants, is the last warning passengers will receive before a report is submitted and their name is potentially added to a “no-fly” list of banned passengers.
Before being slapped with a yellow card passengers will be given plenty of opportunities to comply and will already have received several verbal warnings from flight attendants. And in a new change that came into effect on Tuesday, passengers will have to sign a declaration saying they agree to wear a face mask or covering during their flight before being allowed onboard.
The new measures come just a couple of weeks after Alaska joined other major U.S. airlines to announce increased face mask enforcement including the much-hyped travel ban on repeat offenders. Alaska explained in a blog post that a change needed to be made because some passengers continued to flout the rules.
“Our flight crews encounter moments when some travelers disregard or disobey our mask requirement. It creates tension and anxiety for many of our passengers who do have their face coverings on. So, a change is needed,” the airline explained.
“Starting in early July, our flight attendants will be empowered to issue a final notice to any guest who repeatedly refuses to wear a mask or face covering on board our aircraft,” the post continued.
“With that warning – in the form of a yellow card handed to them – the guest’s travel with us will be reviewed and could be suspended for a period. That would be a decision we do not take lightly. By working together, we do more for the common good.”
The yellow card is similar to a reminder card available to United’s flight attendants once other attempts to convince a passenger to obey the mandatory face mask rule have failed.
Alaska says its face mask policy is just one of a hundred different measures it has put in place over the last couple of months to protect passengers from the novel Coronavirus. Flights will continue to be capped at 65 per cent capacity through July 31 in order to offer passengers some form of social distancing – a stark contrast to American and United Airlines who will now sell all flights to maximum capacity.
The Seattle-based airline said face masks would be available for any passenger who doesn’t have their own and certain exceptions to the rule include young passengers under the age of two, as well as people with certain medical conditions.
Last week, Alaska joined a coalition of major U.S. airlines calling on the TSA to introduce mandatory temperature checks at airports across the United States. So far, aviation authorities have refused to wade into the debate on COVID-19 protection measures, including face mask rules or social distancing guidelines.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.