American Airlines Updates Mask Policy

American Airlines announced Wednesday that face coverings with exhaust valves or vents would no longer be allowed when boarding the carrier’s flights, effective August 19.

The airline consulted with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which reports the face coverings with one-way valves or vents allow exhaled air to be expelled through holes in the material.

The exhaled air contains respiratory droplets that can spread the coronavirus.

“Wearing a face covering is a responsibility we all share,” American Chief Customer Officer Alison Taylor said. “An effective covering, worn properly, is one of the best ways we can control the spread of COVID-19 to protect our team members and customers.”

“Since American began requiring face coverings in early May, the vast majority of customers have welcomed our continuing efforts to strengthen the policy based on the CDC’s guidance,” Taylor continued.

Based on the updated CDC guidance, the airline is only allowing well-secured facial coverings made of a material that prevents the release of respiratory droplets from a person’s nose or mouth.

As for what travelers aren’t allowed to wear while traveling with American, face coverings with exhaust valves, made with materials such as mesh or lace, do not cover the nose and mouth or face shields without the addition of a mask are not permitted.

The only exemption is children under the age of two, and customers without a facial covering will be offered a mask at the airport. Travelers unwilling to comply with the carrier’s mask policy during their journey will be denied boarding or barred from future travel.

On Tuesday, American Airlines announced it would extend its offer to waive change fees for new travel through December 31 for fliers who purchase tickets by September 30.

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