United CEO said the airline is offering credit or refunds to passengers who don't want to fly without a mask mandate
United AirlinesCEO Scott Kirby said customers who don't want to fly without a mask mandatecan get a refund.
- Kirby said United has a flexible change policy and most tickets types allow the fare to be applied to future
Travelers who are uneasy about flying without mask requirements may be able to get their money back if they opt to cancel a trip with United.
"All of our customers should feel free to wear a mask and many of them are," Kirby said. "For customers like that, that are immunocompromised or that have other concerns or issues, we are working with those customers if they really don't want to fly."
United spokesperson Josh Freed told Insider that travelers seeking a credit or refund do not need a reason to make a change or cancel their flight, such as being immunocompromised or having a child under 5. These customers should "call customer service to find a good answer for their situation," he said.
Freed did not specifically confirm a refund will be an option in all cases, but emphasized United's flexible change policy, adding "most ticket types allow customers to apply their fare to travel through the end of 2023."
Basic economy tickets do not allow changes, though. They can, however, be canceled for a fee with the remaining balance kept as flight credit, or the ticket can be upgraded to standard economy for a fee and then be changed, The Points Guy reported.
United's decision comes as many travelers voice concern over the safety of maskless flights, though Kirby said he doubts the mandate will return "anytime in the foreseeable future."
In response to the policy, several consumers took to social media to air their grievances this week.
"Mask mandate or not, wearing an N95 on planes and in other enclosed public spaces helps protect yourself and others from Covid-19," Psychiatrist Benjamin Venesss wrote on Twitter. "I don't want to get sick, but also there are two elderly people opposite me; if I'm an asymptomatic carrier, I don't want to risk infecting them."
Dr. Emily Ricotta, a Baltimore-based epidemiologist, expressed similar sentiments on Twitter, writing she was double-masking on her Thursday flight.
Despite the worry, Kirby told Today that planes and airports are two of the safest places to be in terms of COVID-19 because of the highly effective air filters. Still, he assured customers who don't want to fly will be given options.
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