American Airlines made this announcement:
- New policy is effective Wednesday, August 19
- Allowed face coverings must be worn correctly, covering the nose and mouth, and only can be removed briefly for eating and drinking
- Face coverings made with materials such as mesh or lace fabrics are also not allowed
Effective August 19, 2020, and following the most recent recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), face coverings with exhausts valves or vents will no longer be allowed for travel with American Airlines. The CDC notes that face coverings with one-way valves or vents allow exhaled air to be expelled through holes in the material. These can allow exhaled respiratory droplets to reach others and potentially spread the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Wearing a face covering is a responsibility we all share. An effective covering, worn properly, is one of the best ways we can control the spread of COVID-19 to protect our team members and customers,” said Alison Taylor, Chief Customer Officer at American. “Since American began requiring face coverings in early May, the vast majority of customers have welcomed our continuing efforts to strengthen the policy based on the CDC’s guidance.”
American began requiring face coverings on board its flights in May and, in July, announced it would only allow exemptions for customers under 2 years old. The airline requires all other customers to wear a face covering from the time they enter the airport where their trip begins until they leave the airport where their trip ends.
Based on the updated CDC guidance, below are examples of face coverings customers can and cannot wear while traveling with American.
- A well-secured cloth or mask that fits snugly against the face and covers an individual’s nose and mouth. It must be made of a material that prevents the discharge and release of respiratory droplets from a person’s nose or mouth.
- Face coverings with exhaust valves.
- Face coverings made with materials such as mesh or lace fabrics.
- Face coverings that do not cover the nose and mouth.
- Face shields without the addition of a face covering.
Only children under the age of 2 are exempt from American’s face covering policy. Customers without an approved face covering will be provided with an approved one, upon request, at the airport. Face coverings can only be briefly removed while the customer is eating or drinking. Customers will be reminded of these guidelines throughout their time traveling with American. Those unwilling to comply with American’s face covering policy at any time during their journey may be denied boarding or barred from future travel for the duration of this policy.
American’s face covering policy is a part of the airline’s Clean Commitment to provide customers peace of mind while traveling. This commitment includes partnerships with leading health and safety institutions to support American’s efforts by providing guidance on health matters and cleaning procedures. The airline has implemented multiple layers of protection for customers that include clean airports and airplanes and looking out for the health of team members.
During the check-in process, customers are asked questions to certify that they have been free of COVID-19 symptoms for the past 14 days. At the airport, American has created a touchless check-in experience for customers, allowing them to proceed to the gate without touching the kiosk screen, even if they are checking a bag. The airline also expanded the use of plexiglass barriers and the frequency of cleaning in airport areas under its control, including gate areas, ticket counters, passenger service counters, baggage service offices and team member rooms.
Customers on many flights receive sanitizing wipes or gel, and American has limited food and beverage delivery to reduce interactions between flight attendants and customers. Every aircraft is disinfected, including hand-cleaning seat buckles, seats, tray table and other surfaces. American also applies an electrostatic spray inside the aircraft and all mainline aircraft and the majority of regional jets use HEPA filters. On all of American’s aircraft, the air is refreshed every two to four minutes, which is similar to hospital standards.
The airline continues to work with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council for GBAC STAR accreditation for its fleet of aircraft and customer lounges. American is the first airline to seek GBAC STAR accreditation and expects to receive the designation by the end of 2020.