(NewsNation) — Since the pandemic started, one of the unchanging factors of the situation has been the mask mandates on airplanes, established by the FAA. Municipalities all across the country have dropped theirs, but as yet you still have to don a mask when you walk through the airport doors and keep it on throughout the flight.
Flight attendants have been left to enforce the mandates on planes, and this has led to thousands of reports of unruly passengers, disturbances on flights and even outright assaults on airline personnel just trying to do their jobs.
Now, several airline CEOs are sending the Biden administration a letter asking it to end the mask mandate and the COVID-19 testing requirement for those entering the United States. CEOs from American, Delta, United and 10 other airlines write: “It makes no sense that people are still required to wear masks on airplanes, yet are allowed to congregate in crowded restaurants, schools and sporting events without masks despite none of these venues having the protective air filtration system that aircrafts do.”
Economist Christopher Thornberg said, “This is not about money. No one’s not flying or flying because they can or cannot wear a mask. That’s not what’s going on. Rather what you’re dealing with is just another source of potential friction between passengers and flight attendants. No one really ever showed that airplanes were really a significant contributor to COVID-19.”
According to the FAA, there have been nearly 7,000 passenger incidents since January 2021, with 70 percent of them being mask-related. Delta CEO Ed Bastian wrote in a separate statement, “Current data and science show it’s time to move from mandates to guidance and personal health choices.”
However, according to epidemiologist Dr. Enbal Sacham, we are on the right track but now is not the time to lift safety precautions. “Planes are particularly the place and airports particularly the intersection of infectious disease, populations from lots of places all over the world,” he said.
Several other countries like Canada, the U.K. and other European countries have already dropped mask mandates. According to a NewsNation poll released Thursday, 64 percent of Americans say they are concerned about the pandemic, compared to 90 percent who said they are concerned about inflation.
Currently, mask mandates on public transportation are set to expire on April 18. However, that deadline has already been extended and airlines fear that will happen again. Travel expert Peter Greenberg told “Morning in America” that April 18 is a decision date, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will likely issue a ruling of some sort about a week ahead of that. He expects the mandates to go away sometime around Memorial Day.
Greenberg also said that with more people wanting to travel, airlines still being understaffed and fuel prices skyrocketing, it’s creating a “perfect storm.” He described his airfare quadrupling over the course of a month, and said many people are seeing the same or worse.
Cruise ship bookings are also up, more than double what they were at this time last year, as cruise lines launch new ships and shake their COVID-19 troubles.