British Airways has revealed that it will drop its mandatory face mask policy on all eligible flights from Wednesday, 16th March, following a thorough review of the policy. The airline’s apparent mask mandate u-turn came quickly after both Jet2 and TUI Airways announced they were removing masking rules.
Face masks will, however, still be mandatory on routes where the destination country requires them to be worn by law. The biggest country where this is the case is the United States where the federal face mask mandate has been extended until April 18 at the earliest.
Other destinations may also include Italy where passengers must wear a protective FFP2 (KN95) mask rather than a cloth face covering. Like Jet2 and TUI, passengers travelling with BA may also have to wear a mask when boarding or landing in certain countries where face mask rules are still in existence.
Face mask rules were lifted in England back in January but at the time, British Airways said it had no “immediate plans” to lift its mask mandate as it was required to adopt the rules of the many countries that it serves.
The British government did, however, put the airline industry on notice that it required masking rules to be reviewed regularly and lifted at the “earliest opportunity”.
“Keeping our colleagues and customers safe at all times is always our number one priority, and during the pandemic we followed the advice of the UK Government and Health Protection Agencies, introducing new measures to make sure we were able to continue to operate during the most challenging period in our history,” wrote BA’s chief operating officer Jason Mahoney in an internal memo on Monday.
“The legal requirement to wear a face covering has been removed in England and Wales, and for the past few weeks we’ve been considering our position, considering the complexity of our operation,” the memo continued.
Despite an uptick in daily infections and hospitalisations, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Monday that the government’s policy wasn’t about to change.
On the same date that BA lifts its face mask mandate, Heathrow Airport will also switch to a face mask optional policy. The airport had kept its mask mandate because it serves transfer passengers from around the world who might expect compulsory mask wearing.
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.