ORLANDO, Fla. – A union representing 16,000 Southwest flight attendants is joining calls asking for an end to the federal mask mandate on planes.
The union issued a letter Thursday to federal officials and the White House.
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The group cites the dramatic drop in cases and an increase in verbal and physical attacks related to enforcing the mandate.
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.”
A month ago, a Louisiana man was taken off a Southwest flight at Orlando International Airport after he reportedly became irate over being forced to wear a mask, according to an arrest affidavit. Police said 43-year-old Chad Breaux, of River Ridge was arrested after he was accused of causing a commotion on the flight, yelling and screaming at passengers, saying, “If you are a man, you wouldn’t be wearing masks.”
The letter comes a day after a group of airline leaders sent a letter to President Joe Biden, asking for an end to the federal mask mandate. In the letter, the heads of JetBlue, Southwest, Delta, American Airlines and others said the requirement is “no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment.”
The mandate is currently set to end on April 18.
The White House said it is consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to possibly end it earlier.