A union representing flight attendants for Alaska, Frontier, Spirit, and United has sent a note to the Trump Administration urging that passengers be mandated to wear masks while traveling on commercial flights.
The letter comes from the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) and was sent to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar.
It calls on the U.S. federal government to mandate that the following groups be forced to wear masks when at U.S. airports or onboard aircraft:
- Airline flight crew (pilots + flight attendants)
- Airline ground staff
Here’s a key excerpt from the note:
“Flight attendants are aviation’s first responders, required by federal regulations to help ensure the safety, health, and security of our globally-interconnected aviation system. While this global system is integral to our modern economy, its essential inter-connectedness also provides a convenient pathway for opportunistic pathogens to hitch rides on unsuspecting crewmembers and travelers and spread all over the world.
As some of the most frequent travelers, flight attendants feel a deep responsibility to ensure that our workplace risks of acquiring and spreading communicable diseases are minimized as much as possible.
We are calling on the Department of Transportation, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services and other relevant agencies, to use its authority to mandate masks in aviation for crew, employees and passengers; require personal protective equipment; and end all leisure travel until the virus is contained.”
You can read the full note here (.pdf).
The AFA represents USA-based flight attendants from 20 different airlines.
I’m surprised this demand has not arrived sooner, but this letter will certainly force a public conversation. Key Members of Congress were also copied on this note so expect to hear about this in the days ahead.