Alaska Airlines announced Wednesday it is strengthening its mask-wearing policy and that failure to comply can include the denial of future travel with the airline.
In a news release, the airline said that, as of this Friday, all Alaska Airlines customers age 2 and older will be required to wear a mask or face covering over their nose and mouth at all times when at the airport or on board an aircraft – with no exceptions.
“If a guest is unwilling or unable to wear a mask for any reason while at the airport, they will not be permitted to travel,” the news release states. “If a guest refuses to wear a mask after boarding their flight, they will be suspended from future travel.”
In the release, Alaska Airlines Vice President of Safety and Security Max Tidwell said that safety “remains priority number one.”
“We all need to look out for each other during this health emergency, and the best way we can do that – and prevent the spread of the virus – is to simply wear a mask or face covering when we’re around each other,” Tidwell said. “If you don’t wear a mask, you won’t be flying with us.”
The company defines “acceptable face coverings” as those “made from a cloth or other barrier material that prevents the discharge and release of respiratory droplets from a person’s nose or mouth.”
In late June, Alaska flight attendants began issuing warnings to any guest who repeatedly refused to wear a mask while on one of the company’s aircraft. As of this Friday, if a guest chooses not to comply after receiving a warning, their travel with the airline “will be suspended immediately upon landing,” according to the release.
Any remaining portion of the guest’s itinerary will be canceled – including connecting or return flights – along with any future trips the guest has booked. The guest will be provided with a full refund for any unused travel and will be responsible for making their own travel arrangements from that point.
In an email, Alaska Airlines spokesman Tim Thompson wrote that each case will be reviewed in order to determine the length of suspension.
“That suspension could last for the duration of (Alaska Airline’s) mask policy,” he wrote. “Our top priority is the safety and well-being of everyone. Masks are so important to the safety of both guests and employees that we can’t allow anyone not to wear one, for any reason, even those with a medical condition.”
According to the company, since its mask enforcement policy was enacted in May, the overwhelming majority of guests have respected the requirement – and many guests have raised concerns about the few who do not. Alaska Airlines can provide masks to customers who forget to bring them.