The federal mandate for face coverings on airplanes is set to expire April 18th to the joy of millions of Americans. One of the last pandemic era federal restrictions for masks is finally coming to an end as the country continues to see its way out of covid. Millions of travelers will once again set to the skies with beaming smiles, free from a mandate that has lasted nearly 2 years.
But not all will be happy. The travel consumer watchdog group “Mask Up America” has raised concerns over the lack of follow-on federal guidance for the travel weary. “We strongly urge the government to release updated guidelines on the allowance of face coverings while aboard airplanes” stated MUA President Brock Hamlin. “Many Americans will be at a loss for how to conduct travel safely without the CDC telling them how” he went on to say. “Without approval, many will be left fearful and forgotten in an environment free from government edict.”
A recent poll conducted by “Free The Smile” suggests travelers overwhelmingly look forward to air travel without the distraction masks have caused. In-flight disturbances and unruly behavior on aircraft spiked to new highs during covid. An end to the mandate will likely bring those incidents back near pre covid levels.
That encouraging news is not a relief to travelers like Karen Robuch, 42, from Sausalito, CA traveling with her 2 young children to Dallas. “I don’t see the logic in it. The government spent 2 years keeping us safe and now they leave us without any rule at all. Just tell us what to do” she frustratingly muttered through double N95 masks. “If they would just tell us it’s OK to continue wearing masks, that would be great comfort.”
“Mask Up America” plans to petition congress for follow on instructions to travelers like Karen who feel they deserve continued government protection under the loosening guidance. They will petition a group of bipartisan lawmakers next week. “We are hearing from many concerned travelers” said Hamlin. “Without a rule, I don’t see many of them traveling. It’s just not fair to expect them to decide for themselves.”