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Airlines to allow certain passengers banned for violating mask policy to return

Passengers who were banned by airlines for failing to comply with the national mask mandate could soon be able to fly again. United, Delta and Alaska Airlines told CBS News they will review each case before making a decision.

Delta Airlines said that it will restore certain banned passengers’ flight privileges after they demonstrate “an understanding of their expected behavior when flying.” Passengers who exhibited “egregious behavior” and were already on the permanent no-fly list will remain banned. 

“At Delta, nothing is more important than the safety and security of our customers and our people,” the airline said in a statement. “Any further disregard for the policies that keep us all safe will result in placement on Delta’s permanent no-fly list.”

Delta banned about 2,000 passengers while the mask mandate was in place.

United, which banned around 1,000 customers, said it would remove passengers from the no-fly list on a “case by case basis.” Alaska Airlines told CBS News that over 1,700 passengers were banned for refusing to wear masks, and it is also reviewing those decisions. 

Airline passengers and crew members, some not wearing face masks following the end of Covid-19 public transportation rules, walk to flights in the airport terminal in Denver, Colorado on April 19, 2022. – Mask mandates on public transportation are no longer in effect following a ruling by federal judge on April 18, 2022.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

The airlines’ announcements come after Tampa U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle voided the nation’s mask mandate on public transit, and the Transportation Security Administration said it would no longer enforce the mandate. At least eight major airlines, including Delta, JetBlue, American, Frontier and Spirit, no longer require passengers to wear masks throughout the duration of their flights. 

But on Wednesday, the Justice Department appealed Mizelle’s ruling after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that masking while in transportation corridors like planes and trains is “necessary for the public health.”

Airlines began requiring passengers to wear face masks in 2020, and the CDC issued the federal requirement for public transit in January 2021 after President Biden assumed office. But the mandate on airplanes has been a source of conflict, and flight attendants have been left to enforce it. Carriers have reported 1,150 unruly passenger incidents so far this year, 744 of which were related to face masks, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Ed O’Keefe, Melissa Quinn and Kathryn Krupnik contributed reporting.



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