world of aviation logo

White House drops transport mask mandate

written by Isabella Richards | April 19, 2022

The White House has dropped the federal mask mandate for public transportation after a Florida judge criticised the health measure for being unlawful.

The decision marks the first relaxation of major COVID-19 restrictions for travel in the US after almost two years of upholding the federal mandate, and many airlines have welcomed the decision.

US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle wrote in her decision that “wearing a mask cleans nothing” and “at most, it traps virus droplets. But it neither ‘sanitizes’ the person wearing the mask nor ‘sanitizes’ the conveyance.”

The Biden administration in a statement on Monday said it was “reviewing the decision and assessing potential next steps,” but “in the meantime, today’s court decision means CDC’s public masking order is not in effect at this time”.

This means that the Transport Security Administration will no longer enforce the requirement of passengers and employees to wear a mask on aircraft, trains and public transit buses.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said: “This is obviously a disappointing decision”, in response to a question about the judge ruling, as the mandate was set to continue until early May.


“The CDC continues recommending wearing a mask in public transit.”

Despite the White House’s reluctant decision, airlines across America have welcomed the news, as mask mandates were the main cause of a rise in unruly passengers.

“As a result of this development, effectively immediately, Southwest employees and customers will be able to choose whether they would like to wear a mask, and we encourage individuals to make the best decision to support their personal wellbeing,” Southwest Airlines said in a statement.

“We appreciate the cooperation and compliance efforts of our customers and employees as policies have evolved.”

American Airlines said it is grateful for team members that have followed the mask mandate these past few years.

“In accordance with the Transportation Security Administration no longer enforcing the federal face mask mandate, face masks will no longer be required for our customers and team members at US airports and on domestic flights.”

Delta Air Lines said that wearing a well-fitted mask protects the wearer even if others do not use one but is giving its employees the option.

“We are relieved to see the US mask mandate lift to facilitate global travel as COVID-19 has transitioned to an ordinary seasonal virus.”

Airlines have lobbied for this decision for some time now, after stating the mask mandate no longer made sense.

In late March, Airlines for America, a US trade association, issued a letter to the Biden administration asking for the mandate to be dropped.

“The persistent and steady decline of hospitalization and death rates are the most compelling indicators that our country is well protected against severe disease from COVID-19,” the letter read.

“They [public health measures] no longer make sense in the current public health context.”

It was signed by multiple aviation giants, such as Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue and more.

The decision comes just over a month after the United Kingdom dropped its remaining mask restrictions on 16 March.


Each day, our subscribers are more informed with the right information.

SIGN UP to the Australian Aviation magazine for high-quality news and features for just $99.95 per year