With federal mandates on board and at the airport expiring next month, the flight attendants union is pushing the Biden administration to extend mask requirements so more people can be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
In a statement, the CWA said that allowing the mask requirement to expire on March 18 would put at risk medically vulnerable travelers as well as passengers under the age of 5, who are not yet eligible for a vaccine in the United States.
“The multi-layered approach to safety and security includes masks,” the union, which represents 50,000 flight attendants on 20 airlines, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Biden administration imposed the mask rule for flights a year agoDuring the brutal rise in coronavirus cases across the country before vaccines were widely available. The people who did not comply were Subject to fines. Officials extended the mandate twice As deadly new waves of infection swept over the nation.
As the latest wave, led by the highly contagious variant Omicron, has waned in recent weeks, states and local authorities across the United States have eased mask requirements, as have some major employers. But many forms of public transportation, including air travel, are regulated by the Federal Transportation Security Administration, whose requirements for masks for passengers and crew members have not been raised.
The requirement is still on track to expire on March 18, Patricia Mancha, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, said Tuesday night. e-mail. “So far, there is nothing new to share.”
Many flight crews are concerned about the possibility.
Disagreements over the masks and the refusal of some passengers to wear them often led to shouting matches, fights and other problems with rowdy passengers during the pandemic. from january. From 1 to February. 15, the FAA received nearly 400 reports of rowdy passengers, including 255 reports of passengers refusing to comply with the federal mask mandate.
Last month, a man boarded a Delta Airlines flight from Dublin to New York who refused to wear a mask He took off his pants and exposed his buttocks, and an American Airlines flight from Miami to London He turned around an hour on his journey Because a passenger refused to wear a mask.
Many flight attendants support the extension of mask requirements as well. “It is also important that we maintain passenger confidence in the safety of air travel,” the union said in its statement.
Federal mask authorization for air travel faced judicial challenges – Texas Republican Attorney General This lawsuit was filed last week – But so far, the courts have maintained that.
Some airline executives have questioned the effectiveness of masks on planes. at Senate session in December“The case is very strong because masks don’t add much, if anything, to the cabin environment,” said Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly.
But Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, Travelers urged to wear face masks At airports and during flights. “Even though you have a good filtration system, I still think masks are a wise thing to do, and we should do it,” he said a few days after the session.
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