United Airlines announced Monday that passengers who refuse to wear masks will be put on an internal no-fly list and will be banned from boarding future flights.
The airline said the policy will start taking effect Thursday and last for a minimum of 60 days, adding that the policy is being put into place to protect passengers and crew from contracting the coronavirus.
United did, however, note that an “overwhelming majority of passengers” are already wearing masks.
The policy allows for some individuals to be exempted, such as small children or people who have a disability or health condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.
All other passengers are required to wear a mask unless they are eating or drinking, according to United.
If a flight attendant is informed of a passenger who is not wearing a mask, that flight attendant will let that person know that masks are mandatory and offer to provide them one at no cost.
If the passenger does not comply, the flight attendant will file an incident report and a security team will launch an investigation at the plane’s destination. That person will also be placed on an “internal travel restriction list,” USA Today reported.
“Every reputable health institution says wearing a mask is one of the most effective things people can do to protect others from contracting COVID-19, especially in places like an aircraft where social distancing is a challenge,” United’s chief customer officer, Toby Enqvist, said in a statement.
“Today’s announcement is an unmistakable signal that we’re prepared to take serious steps, if necessary, to protect our customers and crew,” he added.
The airline industry, which has taken a nosedive during the coronavirus, has been blamed for not clearly stating what to do about wearing masks on planes.
Airlines for America, an airline lobbying organization, said in a statement Monday that several of its participating airlines would implement “appropriate consequences for passengers who are found to be in noncompliance of the airline’s face covering policy up to and including suspension of flying privileges on that airline.”
The lobbying organization said Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines would be some of the participating airlines that would make stricter rules regarding their mask policies.