masking up

United Airlines passengers must now wear faces masks in airports

United Airlines passengers must now wear faces masks in airports

United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner, September 2017
United Airlines customers now must wear masks onboard and in airports.  Courtesy photo

A major U.S. airline has just amped up its safety precautions during the pandemic. United Airlines announced on July 22 that, along with other Airlines for America (A4A) members, customers will be required to wear a face covering in the more than 360 airports where the airline operates around the world — including Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

This rule now includes United customer service counters and kiosks, United Club locations, United's gates, and baggage claim areas, according to a press release.

Customers who refuse to comply may be refused travel and banned from flying United at least while the mask requirement is in place. The policy will be effective for all customers traveling on and after July 24 regardless of when their ticket was purchased, according to United.

In June, United enacted a strict, no-mask, no-travel policy. Under the rule, any passenger not complying with the mandatory mask policy when onboard a United flight is placed on an internal travel restriction list. In April, United became the first major U.S.-based airline to require flight attendants to wear a face mask while on duty. The airline expanded that mandate in May to include all employees and customers on board.

The move is in conjunction with a consortium of airlines — including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Southwest Airlines — which is dubbed Airlines for America.

“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,” said United’s chief customer officer, Toby Enqvist, in a statement.

“We have been requiring our customers to wear masks onboard United aircraft since May 4 and we have been pleased that the overwhelming majority of passengers readily comply with our policy. Today’s announcement is an unmistakable signal that we’re prepared to take serious steps, if necessary, to protect our customers and crew.”