JetBlue Becomes First US Airline To Require Passengers To Wear Masks On Board

Ann Smajstrla

Air carrier JetBlue announced it will soon require passengers to wear masks to curb possible coronavirus transmission, becoming the first U.S.-based airline to do so.

In a statement hosted by investis, the New York City-based airline announced the new regulation will go into effect on May 4. Passengers will be required to wear a mask at all phases of the journey, the airline stated, "including during check-in, boarding, while in flight and deplaning."

"Wearing a face covering isn't about protecting yourself it's about protecting those around you," said Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer of JetBlue. "This is the new flying etiquette. Onboard, cabin air is well circulated and cleaned through filters every few minutes but this is a shared space where we have to be considerate of others. We are also asking our customers to follow these CDC guidelines in the airport as well."

Small children who are unable to maintain a face mask are exempt from the rule, JetBlue's statement read.

Other airlines are also making adjustments to keep passengers and crew safe from the novel coronavirus. American Airlines announced Monday that, beginning May 1, flight attendants will be required to wear face masks. The company will also distribute masks and hand sanitizer wipes to passengers as they board. Passengers will be encouraged, though not required, to wear the masks in transit.

JetBlue had already required flight attendants to wear masks, as have other air carriers like Delta, United, and Frontier, The Los Angeles Times reported. Some carriers have required masks for crew members who cannot keep six feet of space from other workers and passengers while performing job duties.

Delta Air Lines had asked certain crew members to help in sewing cloth masks, according to The Los Angeles Times.

In addition to mask policies, some airlines are enacting other changes to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Both JetBlue and American Airlines have enacted more rigorous cleaning procedures for planes. The carriers are also encouraging social distancing. The Los Angeles Times noted that, currently, only about 4 percent of seats on U.S. carrier flights are filled.

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