Several major U.S. airlines announced plans this week to restore flight privileges to thousands of customers previously barred from flying commercial planes for breaking mask rules earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The flurry of activity comes just days after federal judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) rule mandating masks on airplanes and other forms of public transportation.
Delta Air LinesAtlanta-based Delta Air Lines said in a statement on Wednesday the carrier will give some passengers a second chance to fly again after reviewing each case and after the passenger "demonstrates an understanding of their expected behavior when flying with us."
"With masks now optional, Delta will restore flight privileges for customers on the mask non-compliance no-fly list," the carrier told Reuters, noting that the lift would apply to roughly 2,000 customers.
The change will not impact a separate list of about 1,000 customers who have demonstrated "egregious behavior" in the past and are already on the "permanent no-fly list."
United AirlinesIn a similar move, United Airlines announced on Tuesday that some passengers will be allowed to fly again after it reevaluated its lists of banned passengers, FOX 5 reported.
"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," the airline company said in a statement.
Alaska AirlinesMeanwhile, Alaska Airlines also said that customers barred from flying over mask violations will be given a second opportunity now that the federal government's mask policy is overturned.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday announced its plans to appeal Mizelle's ruling that forced the government to halt the enforcement of mask rules in public transportation settings.
Anthony Coley, a DOJ spokesman, said the appeal is at the request of the CDC. Just days before Mizelle ruled that the federal health agency's mask mandate was unlawful, the CDC said it would extend the mask order until early May.