United says it will ban passengers who do not abide by its requirement to wear masks on board flights (UAL)
United Airlines said it will ban passengers who refuse to wear a mask on board flights during the coronavirus pandemic. The length of the ban will be determined after a security incident review. Passengers will be warned multiple times and offered a mask before they are referred for the action. US airlines have come under criticism for failing to enforce mask requirements, but an industry trade group said Monday that more substantive enforcement is coming. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
United Airlines said Monday that passengers who refuse to wear masks on board flights could be banned from traveling with the airline in the future. The new policy takes effect on Thursday, June 18. Most US airlines have added requirements in recent months for passengers to wear masks on board flights and, in some cases, in airport facilities or while boarding or disembarking the aircraft. However, airlines have come under criticism for failing to enforce requirements or to provide clear guidelines surrounding the handling of non-compliant passengers. The lax enforcement has led to complaints from some other passengers, especially on flights that were relatively full. Earlier on Monday, US airline industry lobbying organization Airlines for America (A4A) said that its member airlines would strengthen their respective mask policies and practices, which would include pre-flight communications, on-board announcements, and consequences for noncompliance. The organization said that individual member airlines would detail their own "appropriate consequences for passengers who are found to be in noncompliance of the airline's face covering policy up to and including suspension of flying privileges on that airline." A4A members that will strengthen their mask policies include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. United was the first to announce the new policy. United said that passengers who violate the policy will be banned from the airline for "duration of time to be determined pending a comprehensive incident review." "Every reputable health institution says wearing a mask is one of the most effective things people can do to protect others from contracting COVID-19, especially in places like an aircraft where social distancing is a challenge," said Toby Enqvist, United's chief customer officer, said in 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." "Today's announcement is an unmistakable signal that we're prepared to take serious steps, if necessary, to protect our customers and crew," Enqvist added. Flight attendants will inform passengers of the policy, offer to provide a mask, and warn them of the potential consequences before further action is taken, the airline said. A final decision about the passenger's status with the airline will be made at a later point, and not on board. "Wearing a mask is a critical part of helping make air travel safer," Dr. James Merlino, chief clinical transformation officer at the Cleveland Clinic, said in the press release. The Cleveland Clinic is advising United on sanitary and risk-reduction procedures during the pandemic. "The more people in a given space wearing masks, the fewer viral particles are making it into the space around them, decreasing exposure and risk," Dr. Merlino added.SEE ALSO: The airline industry is starting to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, but a second wave could be a catastrophe Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why Pikes Peak is the most dangerous racetrack in America
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Summary List Placement The iconic blue-and-white Boeing 747 that's supposed to keep President Donald Trump safe...Summary List Placement The iconic blue-and-white Boeing 747 that's supposed to keep President Donald Trump safe in the air may have been where he contracted COVID-19. Trump most recently flew on Air Force One on Wednesday, returning to Washington from a celebratory rally in Duluth, Minnesota, following a contentious debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden the day before. Also aboard was Hope Hicks, a senior member of the president's staff, who was showing COVID-19 symptoms during the trip, according to The New York Times, and who tested positive for the virus on Thursday. Hicks was reportedly isolated for the near-three-hour flight and used a separate door to disembark upon arrival back at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. The next day, Trump took a US Marine Corps helicopter, known as "Marine One" when he's aboard, and a smaller jet to Bedminister, New Jersey, giving the Boeing 747 a rest for the day. Trump has been using the military's fleet of modified Boeing 747 and 757 aircraft, designated by the military as VC-25As and C-32s, respectively, to travel the country on the campaign trail. He typically holds evening rallies at airports, so he can get in and out easily, while using the aircraft as a backdrop. Aboard Air Force One The flying White House that first flew President George H.W. Bush and had its defenses upgraded after September 11, 2001, features an onboard medical suite, state-of-the-art communications, and mid-air refueling capabilities. It can even withstand a nearby nuclear blast. Though the exact specifications of the aircraft are confidential, it's likely that the US Air Force has upgraded its air filtration and circulation system to match or exceed the ones found on modern airliners, according to Henry Harteveldt, president of Atmosphere Research Group. The Air Force, after all, was going to spend $24 million on a refrigerator for the plane in 2018, the Air Force Times reported. Unlike a traditional Boeing 747, Air Force One seats just 71 passengers in a VIP configuration with a massive interior that lends itself to physical distancing. With so many opportunities for safety amid a pandemic, the possibility of Trump contracting COVID-19 aboard the aircraft would seem slim. But what Air Force One can't defend against is passengers who don't wear masks during a pandemic, who may have contributed to the virus' transmission from Hicks to Trump. Masks have been touted by public health experts as a simple, effective way to reduce transmitting the virus to others while everyone waits for a vaccine. "All we really have to protect ourselves are these physical, non-pharmaceutical interventions: masks, washing your hands, and trying to position yourself so that you're not in crowds where you might become exposed," James Le Duc, director of the Galveston National Laboratory, one of the nation's largest university bio-containment facilities, told Business Insider. The United States Air Force's 89th Airlift Wing did not answer inquiries about Air Force One's mask policies before publication but, as The New York Times reported, aides to Trump, including Hicks, are generally hesitant to wear masks around Trump "in deference to the president's disdain for them." Video from Bloomberg showed Hicks and other staffers boarding Air Force One behind Trump on Wednesday without a mask. COVID-19 flies private, too High-efficiency particulate air filters and air circulation systems help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus inside commercial airliners and, when combined with face covering requirements, have largely stopped aerial outbreaks. "When we're inside, I think we've got a pretty good circulation of air that, at least on the airplanes, where it goes through HEPA filters, that are likely to reduce the risk of any airborne transmission significantly," said Le Duc, who was previously was the influenza coordinator and director of the Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control. Recent data from the big three US airlines showing low incidence rates among flight attendants show that the risk of contracting COVID-19 while flying is very low when face coverings are worn by all passengers. All major US airlines require their passengers and customer-facing employees to wear face coverings. A growing number of airports are latching on to the trend. Private planes are generally thought to be safer, because they don't require passengers to use crowded airports, or sit in crowded cabins. Air Force One, basically a private jet for the US government, is no different. "One thing that works in favor of private planes is that the number of people is reduced compared to commercial flights, in most cases," Sirish Namilae, an associate professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, told Business Insider. But there are downsides, too. On a plane like Air Force One, passengers have more freedom to move around and are more likely to be chatting with their seat mates than on a typical commercial flight. That could increase the potential risk of spreading the coronavirus. So, masking up is key to reduce the number of water droplets coming from one's mouth and nose, which can get in the air and linger for hours. "What would be very effective — whether it is in a private plane or commercial plane — is the wearing of masks that can reduce the spread," Namilae said. It's a hassle, especially on long flights, but both Namilae and Le Duc emphasized the vitality of wearing a mask. "These are the tools we have today," Le Duc said. "We just need to be using them. And it doesn't matter whether you're on an airplane or wherever, this is all we have. The virus has no personality and has no preference. It just wants to replicate. The risk is equal opportunity risk."SEE ALSO: Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis could wipe out the airline industry's nascent recovery, experts say DON'T MISS: Just put on a damn mask already, America. The science is clear. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: A cleaning expert reveals her 3-step method for cleaning your entire home quickly
Allegiant Air forced a passenger off a plane after he asked a flight attendant to put on a face mask
Summary List Placement A man was removed from an Allegiant Air flight on Monday on an...Summary List Placement A man was removed from an Allegiant Air flight on Monday on an accusation that he made "threatening statements" to the flight attendant, The Washington Post reported. However, a viral video of the incident shows a man being removed from the flight had asked the flight attendant to wear a face mask. "I just asked somebody to put on their face mask, that's all I did," the passenger can be heard saying. Allegiant spokeswoman Sonya Padgett said in a statement to Business Insider that the passenger "became disruptive during the pre-flight safety briefing. Following the announcement, the passenger persisted in making threatening statements to the flight attendant, to the point of harassment." The video shows a man asking to speak with the captain as he's being escorted off the flight. "I need you to come off or I get law enforcement," an employee could be heard saying on the video. A spokesperson to Fox News that the attendant had lowered her mask while giving pre-flight instructions after some passengers said they could not hear her well. "That's when the passenger became disruptive," the spokesperson told Fox News. "This was not an 'ask.' The flight attendant's mask was back in place immediately following the announcement." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that face masks can help limit the spread of the coronavirus. Allegiant's mask policy says all passengers have to wear face coverings except children under two years of age. Masks can be removed to eat or drink but have to be put back on afterward. The rule also applies for crew workers, the airline says on its website. "We have also had a few instances of customers who are hard of hearing or need to read lips requesting that a crew member briefly remove a mask for clarification," Allegiant spokesperson Hilarie Grey told USA Today. "Any incidents of noncompliance are reviewed and addressed on a case-by-case basis." Padgett told Business Insider that the passenger was "re-accommodated to a later flight." USA Today reported that Allegiant only began requiring masks on July 2, two months after other airlines did. An attorney walked off his Allegiant Air flight in June after he saw passengers and crew not wearing masks, and no blocked seats to allow for social distancing, The Indianapolis Star reported at the time. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Inside London during COVID-19 lockdown
Brandon Straka was removed from a flight from La Guardia Airport to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport after...Brandon Straka was removed from a flight from La Guardia Airport to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport after he told an airline employee that he didn’t like wearing a mask.