The TSA is extending the transport mask mandate for a second time. The current mask mandate was scheduled to expire on September 13, 2021.
Extending The Mask Mandate
The truth is that only 59.4% of Americans are vaccinated for Covid. The simple fact is that we are going in the wrong direction in dealing with Covid. The chart above shows that we have actually gone backward, back in time to the first week in February, 2021. This happens to be the same week that airports and airlines began to enforce the mask mandate.
Executive Order 13998 Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel, requires face masks to be worn by the public on all forms of public transportation, including in airports and on commercial aircraft, trains, public maritime vessels (including ferries) and intercity service buses.
That original mandate was to expire on May 11, 2021. Then, the first extension was enacted which extended the mask requirement until September 13, 2021. Hold on to your masks, a second mask mandate extension is on the way. The next mask mandate extension is scheduled to last through January 18, 2022.
U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes issued the following statement on the Transportation Security Administration’s extension of the mask mandate through January 2022:
“Extending the federal mask mandate for travel makes sense for the current health environment and has the travel industry’s full support.
The universal wearing of masks in airports and on airplanes, trains and other forms of public transportation is both an effective safeguard against spreading the virus and boosts public confidence in traveling—both of which are paramount for a sustained economic recovery.”
An Extension Of Bad Behavior On Aircraft?
The FAA has seen a disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior. Roughly 75% of these cases for the first six months of 2021 have come from failure to comply with federal mask mandates. The FAA has handed out fines to unruly travelers totaling $682,000 this year alone and has identified potential violations in 540 cases, initiating enforcement action in 83.
On January 13, 2021, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson signed an order directing a stricter legal enforcement policy against unruly airline passengers in the wake of recent, troubling incidents.
Historically, the agency has addressed unruly-passenger incidents using a variety of methods ranging from warnings and counseling to civil penalties. Under the new zero-tolerance policy, FAA will not address these cases with warnings or counseling. The agency will pursue legal enforcement action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members.
Well, I was planning a mask-free flight next month. That is not going to happen. I am not going to get in the fray of vaccination versus masking but until Covid gets under control, it looks like we will all be masking up for the foreseeable future. I really hope that I don’t have to write about a third extension of the airline mask mandate.
Your flight crew is there for your safety. Please obey flight crew instructions – not just because it’s the law but it’s for everyone’s safety.