Travel looked immediately different after a federal judge in Florida struck down the federal mask mandate for public transportation last week. Whether people were thankful or outraged about the snap decision varied, but there’s no denying it caused more than a little confusion. Now, some airlines are offering refunds or other concessions to people who don’t feel comfortable flying with unmasked passengers.
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said the airline is working with customers who have concerns “to find another option, give them a credit, or if they just don’t ever want to fly again, [we are] actually willing to give them a refund,” in an interview with NBC. Even people who purchased basic economy tickets can delay their flight.
Other major airlines have a slightly more ambiguous stance, however. American Airlines is considering different options to accommodate passengers with concerns as well, though it already allows refunds for the higher-priced refundable tickets and airline credit for nonrefundable tickets (excluding basic economy tickets purchased after April 1). Delta said it’s being handled on a case-by-case basis, according to AFAR.
In all cases, it’s important to note that you’re going to have to deal with customer service. Those calls are bad in normal circumstances, but even worse due to the staffing shortages and other issues plaguing the entire industry. So be prepared to wait: there are reports of people on the phone with airlines for two and a half hours to resolve basic issues.
If you’d still like to travel, bring an N95 or KN95 along with you. Because while there may not be a mandate that requires a mask anymore, there certainly is nothing saying that you can’t wear a mask.