(NewsNation) – Delta, United and American airlines are re-allowing thousands of passengers previously banned from flying for refusing to wear masks.
The airlines’ announcement follows the Biden administration’s announcement earlier this week that it would no longer enforce a federal mandate requiring the wearing of masks on public transit and flights.
Delta’s CEO sent a letter to the attorney general earlier this year asking for a national no-fly list. Yet CEOs are now confident that passengers will return to their airlines.
“We spoke to them individually,” United CEO Scott Kirby told NBC on Thursday. “Many of them assure us that now that the mask mandate is lifted, everything will be fine, and I hope the vast majority of them will.”
American Airlines Director of Government Affairs Nate Gatten told reporters that “in most cases” those banned from wearing masks will be allowed to return.
“In cases where an incident may have started with a face mask disrespect and escalated into something involving something more serious – certainly an assault on one of our team members or customers – these passengers … do not will never be allowed to travel with us again,” Gatten said. .
Delta Air Lines spokesperson Morgan Durrant said the airline would reinstate flight privileges after a case-by-case review and customer understanding of expected behavior.
“Any further disregard for the policies that protect us all will result in placement on Delta’s permanent no-fly list,” he said.
Southwest said a judge’s ruling that overturned the federal warrant will not change its decision to bar an undisclosed number of passengers. Alaska Airlines said it would welcome back some of the passengers previously banned for not wearing a mask, but will continue to ban those who were particularly unruly.
The Federal Aviation Administration has recorded more than 1,200 cases of unruly passengers on flights this year; 65% of incidents were related to wearing a mask. Since the start of 2021, airlines have reported more than 7,000 incidents of unruly passengers on flights.
Several thousand passengers ended up on airline no-fly lists, although the exact number is unclear as American and Southwest have never disclosed how many people they banned.
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