Now Reading
United’s Flight Attendants Say Anti-Maskers Shouldn’t Be Allowed Back Just Yet

United’s Flight Attendants Say Anti-Maskers Shouldn’t Be Allowed Back Just Yet

Flight attendants at United say the airline’s decision to permit anti-masker passengers to return to the friendly skies is premature and “no way to support” employees who took the brunt of anger and aggression when they were charged with enforcing the federal face mask mandate.

United Airlines has joined both Alaska and Delta Air Lines in announcing plans to rescind travel bans on passengers who found themselves on ‘no-fly’ lists for refusing to comply with face mask rules.  United says its no-fly list of nearly 1,000 passengers will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and that only customers who “commit to follow all crew member instructions on board” will have their travel ban’s lifted.

Like both Alaska and Delta, passengers who “demonstrated egregious behavior” will remain on United’s no-fly list but flight attendants at the Chicago-based carrier say the airline has jumped the gun.  United announced its plan to lift travel restrictions on anti-maskers within days of the federal face mask mandate being struck down by a Florida judge.

“The airlines need to slow down and consider all potential consequences of any policy changes,” commented Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) which not only represents United’s flight attendants but those at Alaska and 15 other carriers including Frontier and Spirit.  The union is also pushing to unionise Delta’s crew members.

“Not one banned passenger should be allowed back until there is a thorough discussion with unions, public health officials, and other stakeholders.” Nelson told U.S. media late last week.  She has described the rush to rescind travel bans as “outrageous”.

“While the mask mandate is over, bringing formerly banned passengers back within 24 hours of lifting the mandate is no way to support Flight Attendants who are charged with the safety of the passengers in our care while ensuring confidence in our industry,” said the local union which represents United’s flight attendants.

“It is our view that this announcement is premature and without proper context for front line employees,” the union said.

Not that the decision came as much as a surprise to flight attendants.  They admit that non-violent anti-maskers were going to be allowed to return to the skies at some point.  After all, airlines were open from the start that banned passengers would be allowed to return once face mask rules were relaxed.

But United’s flight attendants say the speed with which the no-fly list is being dismantled is too fast and airlines have not yet been able to say what would happen if face mask rules were introduced once more.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has formally asked the Department of Justice to appeal the decision to have the mask mandate vacated.  The CDC says masking on airplanes “remains necessary for the public health” despite a rush by airlines, including United, to lift mask rules within hours of the court ruling.

The U.S. airline industry has petitioned the CDC and White House officials over the last couple months in an effort to permanently dismantle masking rules on public transport but the Biden administration continues to insist that the federal face mask mandate is legal and necessary.

View Comments (2)
  • Didn’t they already “commit to follow all crew member instructions onboard” when they bought the ticket of the flight they got kicked off of? Or does violating the law not really matter to the airlines? I mean, I’m not surprised given the way we’re crammed into seats like cattle (see AA’s recent debacle of untested failing seats as exhibit A) that airlines don’t really care about safety or service, as long as you’re willing to fork over dollars to them…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.