Why Delta, United, and Alaska are letting the passengers they banned for not wearing masks back on flights
Airlineslike Unitedand Delta said they would welcome passengers previously banned over masks back onboard. Travelanalyst Henry Harteveldt called the decision "fair," while a flight attendant union called it "irresponsible."
Since the federal
United Airlines and Delta Air Lines announced on Wednesday that they will reinstate flight privileges for those previously banned from the carries for mask-related violations. Up to 2,000 Delta and 1,000 United customers may be brought back, with United confirming to Insider that the decision will be made on a "case-by-case basis."
Alaska Airlines, which put over 1,700 people on its internal no-fly list, has also decided to bring passengers who were banned "solely for mask noncompliance" back on flights, USA Today reported. However, the airline noted that "some guests whose behavior was particularly egregious will remain banned."
According to Delta and United, travelers must commit to following the inflight safety rules if they want to fly again. A Delta spokesperson told Insider that the privilege will be restored "only after each case is reviewed and each customer demonstrates an understanding of their expected behavior when flying with us."
"Any further disregard for the policies that keep us all safe will result in placement on Delta's permanent no-fly list," the spokesperson added. "Customers who demonstrated egregious behavior and are already on the permanent no-fly list remain barred from flying with Delta."
United CEO Scott Kirby reiterated the sentiment in an interview with the Today Show on Thursday, emphasizing that some passengers will never be allowed to fly United again due to bad behavior, but those that "simply refused to wear a mask" could return.
"We have talked to them individually and many of them assure us that now that mask mandate is off, then everything is going to be fine, and I trust the vast majority of them will," Kirby explained.
However, the TWU, a union that represents over 65,000 flight attendants at American, Southwest, JetBlue, Frontier, Envoy, Alaska, and Allegiant told Insider that the decision is "irresponsible" when the airlines have not established a "clear vetting process" or "consulted with the union, our essential workers, or even outlined a plan of how they will protect them."
Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst and president of Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider that airlines have "consistently said that passengers who refused to wear a face mask when they were required risked being banned for as long as that requirement was in place."
So, now that the mandate is gone, he says welcoming banned passengers back is "reasonable and fair." However, he emphasized this only applies to people who did not get physically abusive, echoing Delta, United, and Alaska.
He also said that while the mandate is currently not in effect, airlines need to think about what happens if it gets reinstated.
"Given the Department of Justice's decision to possibly appeal the ruling overturning the mask requirement on public
The mask mandate on public transportation, including planes and airports, was lifted on Monday after Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a federal judge in Florida, struck down the Biden Administration's policy extension.
Shortly after, the US Transportation Security Administration announced it would no longer enforce the mandate.
The rule was originally scheduled to lift on March 18 but was extended to April 18, and again to May 3, before Mizelle intervened. However, the US Department of Justice said on Wednesday it is appealing the judge's ruling, according to Reuters.
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