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Airlines Say They Will Ramp Up Enforcement Of Face Covering Policies

A passenger wears a face covering at Denver International Airport as he checks his bags.
David Zalubowski
A passenger wears a face covering at Denver International Airport as he checks his bags.

Major airlines will ratchet up their enforcement of face-covering policies, according to Airlines for America, an industry association.

Prior to each flight, Alaska, American, United, Delta, Southwest, Hawaiian and JetBlue Airways will communicate to passengers their policy on individual face coverings, which must cover a passenger's nose and mouth.

Once on board, crew members will reiterate the policy. If passengers do not cooperate, the association said in a press release, the airlines will take actions that could include putting people on a no-fly list.

The industry pact comes after Democrats and flight attendantspushed for federal-level legislation that would have required all passengers to wear masks on flights.

United announced that starting Thursday, any passenger who does not follow the airline's mask policy will be put on an internal travel restriction list.

Those on the list will be barred from flying with United for an amount of time to be determined by "a comprehensive incident review," according to a press release.

"We have been requiring our customers to wear masks onboard United aircraft since May 4 and we have been pleased that the overwhelming majority of passengers readily comply with our policy," said United's Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist in a statement. "Today's announcement is an unmistakable signal that we're prepared to take serious steps, if necessary, to protect our customers and crew."

If a passenger does not fall under an exemption, and isn't wearing a mask on a United flight, a flight attendant will reiterate the policy, provide a mask if needed, and attempt to de-escalate the situation, according to the airline's press release.

If a customer does not comply, the crew member will then file an incident report.

It wasn't until mid-April that major airlines beganrequesting that passengers wear masks on flights, but many of those policiesdid not make it mandatory for customers to wear a covering.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Hannah Hagemann is a 2019 Kroc Fellow. During her fellowship, she will work at NPR's National Desk and Weekend Edition.