JetBlue is the first US airline to require travelers to wear face masks while flying.
The major airliner previously required its flight crew to wear masks, but now JetBlue expanded the policy to all its customers starting on May 4.
“This is the new flying etiquette,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer of JetBlue. “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.”
The policy forces passengers to cover their faces when checking in, boarding and during flight, with small children excluded.
However, given the age-old law of unintended consequences, it will be interesting to see whether this will trigger a backlash from travelers who might already be burnt out from coronavirus precautions and ‘social distancing,’ especially as numerous states are already backing off their lockdowns.
The mask requirement demanded of travelers might be enough to keep some of them from bothering to fly at all.
Air travel has already slumped into an industry apocalypse after 20,000 flights were cancelled by airlines worldwide during the coronavirus pandemic.
Additionally, airlines haven’t been booking full flights to keep passengers at a distance from each other.
The crisis has also created a ripple effect of reduced sales for retailers dependent on travelers, such as airline gift shops and restaurants.
“This is the greatest crisis the travel retail sector has faced, worse than [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome], the two Gulf Wars or various financial crises,” according to the Moodie Davitt Report, a travel industry publication. “That’s largely driven by the fact that the Chinese traveler has become the epicenter of the sector over recent years and many retailers are worryingly reliant on them.”
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