Afraid to fly with unmasked passengers? Call your airline
Some airlines say they will consider refunds or credits for passengers who don’t want to fly now that the mask mandate has been dropped
April 22, 2022, 11: 38 PM
3 min read
DALLAS — Airlines say they are offering options — including refunds in some cases — for people worried about flying now that other passengers aren’t required to wear face masks.
However, the airlines aren’t providing many details. Customers could be at the mercy of airline customer-service representatives. Many people will fly in the coming weeks. A federal judge in Florida has revoked the requirement that passengers wear masks in airports and on flights. That requirement, designed to limit the spread of COVID-19, was due to expire anyway on May 3. Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, said that his airline will be flexible with those who have a weak immune system and are concerned about mask-optional flight for any reason.
” We are working with these customers… to provide a credit or if they don’t want to fly again, we are willing to give them a full refund,” Kirby said to NBC. A United spokesperson said that customers on lower-priced “basic economic” fares, except those who are paying a surcharge, can cancel their travel plans at any time without additional fees. He advised passengers with special circumstances to call the airline’s customer service number.
American Airlines CEO Robert Isom said Thursday that the airline hasn’t fielded many refund requests yet.
“But as we do in all these occasions, we are looking at our policies and… asking them to contact our reservations office. We will ensure that they accommodate them in a suitable fashion,” Isom stated. A spokeswoman for American pointed out the airline’s policy that allows for refunds on refundable tickets, which are usually more expensive, and credit for non-refundable tickets. People who purchased “basic economy” tickets after April 1 are not eligible for a refund or the right to change their ticket. A Delta Air Lines spokesperson said that customers who wish to cancel a flight should contact the airline. He said that decisions about how to handle such requests are made individually for each case.
Southwest, Alaska, JetBlue, Spirit and Frontier did not reply to inquiries.
On Thursday the Justice Department stated that it would appeal the Florida judge’s decision to strike down the mask mandate. This was a directive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and enforced through the Transportation Security Administration.
However, as of late Friday afternoon the administration still had not asked any court for an emergency stay of the Florida ruling. Experts said that the White House was most interested in appealing the Florida decision to stop it becoming a precedent that could limit CDC’s ability to impose pandemic-related actions in the future.
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