Alaska Airlines, other major airlines make masks optional, effective immediately

SEATTLE — With a federal judge in Florida voiding the national mask mandate covering airplanes and other forms of public transportation, Alaska Airlines said Monday masks are now optional in airports and onboard their aircrafts, effective immediately.

In a blog post, Alaska Airlines said they are happy that employees will be able to see travelers’ smiling faces, but they also understand some people may have mixed feelings.

“It has been a long 24 months with nearly constant change. I could not be prouder of our frontline employees who have handled every pivot focusing on safety and the care we’re known for,” said Max Tidwell, vice president of safety & security at Alaska Airlines. “We’re also thankful for our guests who remained considerate, patient and stood by us throughout every twist and turn.”

According to a spokesperson for Alaska Airlines, more than 1,700 travelers were banned for failing to comply with the federal mask mandate over the past two years.

Guests who were banned solely for not wearing a mask will be allowed to purchase tickets on Alaska flights again, however travelers whose behavior was “particularly egregious” will remain banned.

Several other major airlines, including United, Delta, American and Southwest, have also announced that masks are now optional on their U.S. flights.

The CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings.