JetBlue will require all passengers to wear face coverings effective May 4th both at the airport and onboard. But how enforceable in practice is the new masks requirement? Will planes start diverting if passengers refuse to wear them once a plane takes off?
JetBlue Will Mandate Masks, But Not Provide Them
Effective May 4, 2020, face coverings will be required at all points of the travel experience including at:
- airport concourses
- baggage claim
Joanna Geraghty, President and Chief Operating Officer of JetBlue said:
“Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself it’s about protecting those around you. “This is the new flying etiquette. Onboard, cabin air is well circulated and cleaned through filters every few minutes but this is a shared space where we have to be considerate of others. We are also asking our customers to follow these CDC guidelines in the airport as well.”
JetBlue has stated nothing about providing masks. Rather, the impetus is on passengers to bring their own personal protective equipment with them, as outlined by the CDC.
Small children who are unable to maintain a mask will be exempted from this requirement. No age cutoff is specified.
Penalty For Non-Compliance? Will “Flight Diverted Due To Mask” Be The New Norm?
It is easy enough to deny boarding to a passengers who refuses to wear a mask during check-in or boarding. But what about the wise guy who takes his mask off in-flight and refuses to put it back on? What if flight attendants ask nicely then ask sternly and he refuses? Perhaps he puts it on for a few seconds then takes it off again, complaining that he has trouble breathing. Will JetBlue now start diverting flights when passengers violate crew member instructions? Won’t that process potentially put more passengers in dangers by leaving them onboard the aircraft longer and exposing them to additional ground staff?
A lot of questions, but so far not a lot of answers. JetBlue has addressed the rules, but not the penalties for non-compliance. I’ve reached out and asked them what happens when passengers refuse to comply but have not heard back.
Face coverings will soon be required on JetBlue. You’ll be expected to bring them yourself. It will be interesting to see how aggressive JetBlue will be in enforcing this once an aircraft takes off. Expect other airlines to soon follow in making masks mandatory throughout the journey.
Do you think this will be a non-issue and people will obediently comply or will JetBlue be faced with using a heavy-hand to enforce its new mask rule?