On Tuesday, budget airline easyJet became the latest carrier to announce it would be dropping its face mask mandate within days. From 27th March, easyJet passengers will no longer need to wear a face covering in airports or on planes… Or will they? The actual policy change is a little more confusing than just making masking optional across the board.
In fact, passengers on the vast majority of easyJet’s flights will still be required to wear a face mask unless medically exempt.
The reason is that easyJet has decided that if face masks are still required by law at either end of the journey then masking will remain mandatory for the duration of the flight. In reality, very few countries have dropped masking rules on public transport which includes airlines.
The same policy has been introduced at British Airways but the Heathrow-based carrier didn’t initially clarify where and when masks wouldn’t be required and both customers and crew seem to be equally as confused as to whether they are still meant to be masking up.
The policy is made more complicated by the fact that two other British airlines – TUI Airways and Jet2 – have completely dropped masking rules unless the destination specifically requires passengers to be masked on the flight.
Even in countries where mask mandates have seemingly been lifted, it isn’t always clear where that means you can go maskless onboard a flight. Counties like the Netherlands and France still mandate face masks on public transport even though wider mask mandates no longer exist.
“As a pan European airline operating between over 30 countries, we must continue to ensure that we and our customers follow the legal requirements of all the countries we fly to,” a spokesperson for easyJet commented.
“This means when flying to or from countries where mask requirements remain in place, we will follow the relevant legal requirements.”
Acknowledging that this will no doubt cause confusion easyJet said in a statement that it wanted a coordinated pan-European approach to lifting masking rules.
So what are the actual face mask policies of various airlines?
You are required to wear a face mask if the destination you are flying to or from requires a face mask to be worn.
The airline notes on its website: “As an international airline flying all around the world, we are obliged to ensure our customers continue to comply with local restrictions and meet the requirements of the destination they arrive at.”
Face masks are still “strongly” recommended on flights to and from England and Northern Ireland but are not legally required. The only exception is all flights to and from the United States where face masks are required for the duration of the flight.
On flights to and from England and Northern Ireland, face masks are not required during the flight but must be worn while disembarking in a destination country that still has a face mask mandate in force.
Similar to British Airways, masks are required on all easyJet flights if the country on either end iof the flights has a face mask mandate in force.
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.