British Airways has failed to lift its face mask mandate on Wednesday as the airline had promised to do just days ago. Sources claimed the Heathrow-based airline was looking into unspecified “compliance issues” and that the mask mandate would remain in force on all flights until further notice.
Passengers will be expected to wear face masks on flights even between English destinations where all COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted and face masks are not required to be worn in any other setting.
“We’ve been told an issue which they can’t disclose has arisen so masks will remain mandatory on all flights until further notice,” one anonymous crew member wrote on the popular Flyer Talk website on Wednesday morning.
Just hours earlier, British Airways had confirmed it would make face masks optional on flights from 16th March. The airline added the caveat that it would only remove the requirement to wear a face mask on flights where it “was clear the destination you’re travelling to doesn’t require a face mask on board”.
It was believed that the requirement to wear a face mask onboard would only apply to a handful of destinations where local face mask rules also apply to international carriers. Face masks would have been required on flights to and from the United States, India and Italy.
Face masks would, however, be optional on the vast majority of other flights, especially within Europe where Jet2 and TUI Airways have been operating with an optional face mask policy without encountering any issues.
Face mask rules have been completely lifted in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and some Scandanavian countries.
Insiders believe British Airways was forced to amend its own face mask policy after Heathrow Airport and rival carriers loosened restrictions. The airline gave less than 48 hours notice that it was changing its policy and its website still claims that face masks are required on all flights.
After BA made its own announcement, Virgin Atlantic quickly followed suit and eased face mask rules on flights where this was possible. At the moment, this ownly applies to select flights to Casrribbean destinations.
British Airways has been contacted for comment.
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.