Fort Worth-based American Airlines is instituting a new policy requiring travelers to wear a face covering or mask while on board.
According to a release, the new requirement begins May 11 and is part of the airline's response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The airline is following recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which state that the use of a face covering slows the spread of the virus and helps people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
Therefore, a face covering will be required by each passenger. Very young passengers and those with conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering will be exempt.
Flight attendants are now required to wear face masks during every mainline and regional flight, a policy that begins on May 1.
American will also distribute sanitizing wipes and face coverings to customers.
"The American Airlines team continues to prioritize the safety of our customers and team members, and requiring a face covering is one more way we can protect those on our aircraft," says Senior VP Kurt Stache. "We ask customers to bring their own masks or face coverings they're comfortable with when they travel. American is working to procure face masks and hand sanitizer as a supplement."
The release notes that American's cleaning practices have always met or exceeded all guidelines set by the CDC. All American Airlines mainline aircraft and most of its regional aircraft are equipped with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. In addition, the cabin air in all American aircraft is changed approximately 15 to 30 times per hour, or once every two to four minutes, similar to the standard for hospitals.
At the airport, American has expanded the frequency of cleaning the areas under its control including gate areas, ticket counters, passenger service counters, baggage service offices and team member rooms. American is also using stanchions to encourage social distancing at gates and ticket counters.