Even as the U.S. government appeals a ruling by a Florida judge that struck down travel mask mandates, airlines are re-opening their flight cabins to anti-maskers on their no-fly lists.
Almost instantly after the surprise Monday ruling, all major U.S. airlines moved quickly to rescind their mask requirements of pax.
And soon after that, a number of airlines announced that they are welcoming back thousands of pax they banned during the pandemic for mask non-compliance.
But not with entirely open arms.
Delta started the domino effect, announcing that it “will restore flight privileges for customers on the mask non-compliance no-fly list only after each case is reviewed and each customer demonstrates an understanding of their expected behavior when flying with us.”
The airlines’ statement went on to add that, “Any further disregard for the policies that keep us all safe will result in placement on Delta’s permanent no-fly list. Customers who demonstrated egregious behavior and are already on the permanent no-fly list remain barred from flying with Delta,” it added.
United and Alaska Airlines have reportedly followed suit - while also making it clear that regardless of masking mandates, bad behaviour will not be tolerated.
United Airlines apparently banned about 1000 pax for not following mask mandates.
"On a case-by-case basis we will allow some customers who were previously banned for failing to comply with mask-related rules to fly United again – after ensuring their commitment to follow all crewmember instructions on board.”
Alaska Airlines said in advance that it will not welcome back all of the 1700 pax it put on its own no-fly list for mask violations.
"Now that the mask policy has been overturned, guests who were banned solely for mask noncompliance will be allowed to purchase tickets on our flights," said its statement. "However, some guests whose behavior was particularly egregious will remain banned.”
At least one airline has no plans to edit its no-fly list as a result of the mask mandate reversal.
Southwest Airlines told USA Today that, "Southwest's decisions to issue bans to unruly or disruptive passengers are unaffected by the court's recent decision.”
The FAA nor cabin crew unions have yet weighed in on the matter. Both have spoken out strongly in favour of serious repercussions of unruly behaviour in the air.
And in fact, at the same time as some airlines were giving banned pax the green light to book, the FAA doubled down, saying Wednesday that its "zero-tolerance policy" for unruly incidents and pax will become permanent, regardless of new masking policies.