In an editorial published to Forbes, former Spirit Airlines chief executive Ben Baldanza argues that the mandate should be allowed to end without further extension.
Former Spirit Executive Cites Passenger Safety, Return to Normalcy for Ending Mask Mandate
In his editorial, Baldanza notes current societal attitudes towards face masks in public, pointing out that very few attendees of the 2022 State of the Union Address wore coverings in the halls of Congress. With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reporting over 81% of the U.S. population having at least one vaccine dose combined with many places dropping face mask requirements, continuing the face covering mandate may not continue to protect flyers.
“The recent update of CDC’s guidance gave hope to those who want mask mandates removed,” Baldanza wrote, while pointing to the CDC COVID data tracker website. “The challenge for this as it relates to airlines is that you may be flying from one risk region to another, and in between there is no formal risk assessment for the airports or the plane itself…Yet for those who want it removed, the new guidance does show more tolerance for removing masks in many situations.”
Moreover, Baldanza says the face mask mandate may have ultimately caused more problems than it intended to. Data from the Federal Aviation Administration shows airlines reported nearly 6,000 unruly passenger reports, with the majority of them based on face covering requirements. Although the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA expects the face mask mandate to continue, Baldanza claims an extension could create an even larger hazard.
“By [expecting a face mask mandate extension, the AFA-CWA] are saying that safety from the virus is more risky than being punched in the face, as was done to a Southwest flight attendant,” Baldanza wrote. “Given that masks protect the individual as well as transmitting to others, flight attendants could continue wearing masks while letting the passenger mandate drop. This might be the safest answer of all, considering all dangers related.”
Chicago Tribune Asks Airlines to Reconsider No-Fly List
It isn’t just the face mask mandate that thought leaders are asking to drop. An article published by the Chicago Tribune editorial board is calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation and the FAA to not consider creating a national no-fly list for unruly passengers. The editorial board claims if airlines are allowed to submit flyers to a national no-fly list, it could lead to an overarching civil rights issue.
“A new no-fly list would give the airlines a powerful tool for the same kind of overreach, racial profiling and violations of due process,” the board wrote in their editorial. “Reminding us of the Chicago Police Department’s shamefully bloated and inaccurate database of alleged gang members.
The national no-fly list was proposed by Delta Air Lines chief executive Ed Bastian, with meetings reportedly held to discuss its implementation. Neither the airlines nor federal officials have publicly commented on the mask mandate expiration date or the development of a no-fly list.
Source: frugal travel guy