Alaska Airlines lifts mask requirement

Travelers head into the terminal of Juneau International Airport on May 15, 2020.
Masked travelers head into the terminal of Juneau International Airport on May 15, 2020. Alaska Airlines previously required passengers wear masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and CDC recommendations. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Alaska Airlines announced Monday it is ending its mask requirement.

In a press release, the airline said that – effective immediately – masks are optional on Alaska Airlines flights and in airports across the country.

The decision to lift the requirement came after a federal judge overturned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mask mandate for airplanes and other transportation.

Last week, the federal transportation mask mandate was extended through May 3rd so that health officials could further study the new omicron variant of COVID-19. Monday’s decision makes that extension irrelevant.

In March, the CEOs of the country’s major airlines had signed a request to President Joe Biden to drop the mandate. And the governors of 21 states, including Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, sued the federal government over the mandate.

Alaska Airlines had a mask requirement for passengers for two years. The company’s press release specifically addresses passengers who had been banned from flying on the airline for refusing to wear a mask, like Alaska Sen. Lora Reinbold. It said that some guests whose “behavior was particularly egregious” would remain banned even after the mask policy ended.

This story has been updated with additional information.

Shayne Nuesca

Director of Content Strategy, KTOO

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