As of Friday, all Alaska Airlines passengers ages 2 and older will be required to wear a cloth mask or face covering over their nose and mouth as a protection against the spread of coronavirus – without exception.
All passengers who are unwilling or unable to wear a mask for any reason while at the airport are not allowed to board a flight, the Seattle-based airline said Wednesday. A passenger who refuses to wear a mask after boarding will be suspended from future travel.
Last month, Alaska sought a football-style warning rather than strict adherence to worm politics.
Alaska flight attendants began issuing recalcitrant passengers a “yellow card,” with a notice that they would be banned from future travel if they flew a second time without a face mask.
But other airlines – notably Delta, Alaska’s major rival at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport – earned kudos from passengers with a tougher, no exception.
With some travelers booking flights based on the perceived relative safety of the airline and the strength of its coronavirus protection measures, Alaska has followed suit.
“Our tougher policy shows how important this issue is to us and our guests,” said Max Tidwell, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of safety and security. “If you do not wear a mask, you will not fly with us.”
Alaska has also expanded its policy of blocking intermediate seats, with the exception of families traveling together, to allow for some degree of physical distance on flights through October 31st.
This policy, too, has not been without mishaps.
Scott Chelgren, who flew with his wife on a flight from Boston to Seattle in early July, was assured by reservation agents that the seat between them would be empty, only to find a passenger who was allowed to sit between them after boarding.
A representative from Alaska later apologized to the couple and in an email admitted that the airline had failed to fulfill its promise.