ORLANDO, Fla. – A group of airline leaders sent a letter to President Biden, asking for an end to the federal mask mandate.
In the letter, the heads of Jet Blue, Southwest, Delta, American Airlines and others said the requirement is “no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment.”
Willis Orlando, of the website Scott’s Cheap Flights, said there’s been an increase in unruly passengers due to the mask mandate.
“One of the biggest things they are saying is, ‘We are sick of this confrontation we are having on flights,” Orlando said. “We are looking at a summer with more demand than we’ve seen since 2019. We are looking at a huge summer of travel and they don’t want to deal with employees struggling and quitting after they struggled to build up staff all pandemic long.”
Most U.S. airlines are also asking for an end to international travel requirements for testing. In the letter, “The United Kingdom, European Union and Canada have recognized this reality and have lifted travel restrictions.”
Michael Mosiman was flying to Seattle from Orlando International Airport on Thursday. He said wearing masks at this point should be optional when it comes to traveling.
“I love the idea and I respect anyone who wants to wear a mask — then wear a mask, that’s awesome — but if I don’t want to wear a mask and I don’t feel I need to, that’s on me. I can make that choice,” he said.
Jane Derstine, from Lakeland, said the government should remove the mask mandate for planes.
“I think it’s about time they need to get rid of them, you know, the masks. It’s been way too long, way too long,” Derstine said.
Passenger Mike Gerazino is visiting Orlando from Pittsburg. He says terminating the mask mandate would likely lower the amount of confrontations staff have to endure with passengers.
“It’s not a big problem, I would like to see it end,” Gerazino said. “I’m sure it’s caused a lot of problems in the workplace for them, just like a lot of people. It is about ready to be done with.”
Experts also said American Airlines’ announcement to resume alcohol sales onboard beginning April 18 is a good indication the policy will likely expire on that date.