a woman in a red uniform standing in a row of seats

Cathay Pacific now allows passengers in their flat bed business or first class seats to lay down for a good nights sleep, sans mask.

Yes, whereas everyone else on the plane must keep their mask on for the duration of the flight, passengers upfront have been granted a golden new loophole, and one with plenty of controversy.

Is it a sign of old times slowly returning amid positive vaccination and mitigation news, or a risky gamble, perhaps too soon?

a woman in a red uniform standing in a row of seats

Cathay Pacific Drops Mask Requirement While Sleeping

Cathay Pacific now allows first and business class passengers on flights equipped with a flat bed to remove their mask when the seat is fully reclined into a flat bed, aka the sleeping position. Passengers are expected to keep masks on in other settings.

The new directive was unearthed by Executive Traveller via an internal memo to staff, which has since been confirmed.

Qatar Airways was believed to be the first, and for a while, the only airline to allow passengers in its business class cabin, or beloved Qsuites, to use face masks “at their discretion” rather than as standard policy, but the airline states that was never the case, despite confusing releases on the subject.

It confirmed that all passengers, even in business class must keep face masks on for the duration of travel.Qatar Airways provides privacy doors in most business class seats, transforming seats into ‘suites’.

The new Cathay Pacific change is in response to ongoing studies which suggest that in this flat position, high walls between passengers combined with state of the art HEPA filters and greater levels of distancing in business and first class don’t pose additional risk, even without masks worn at all times.

This has been backed up by recent US Department of Defense studies which examined the extent of particle spread and filtration in real planes, on actual flights across a wide variety of variables, and pointed to the success of HEPA systems. GSTP makes no claim as to the validity of any study.

Masks must still be worn when upright on Cathay Pacific, even in first or business class, and there’s no exception for anyone sleeping across a row of seats in economy or premium. Qatar is more lenient with business class discretion. In addition to a face mask, Qatar Airways also makes all economy passengers wear a face shield.

Victoria Peak skyline at night

Will Other Airlines Join?

It’s intriguing that Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific is reducing mask mandates. Hong Kong has been one of the strictest cities in fighting off covid-19, and even flight crews face huge restrictions when entering. Travel corridors with Singapore were put on hold over 60 cases, bursting plans for regional travel.

If the airline feels comfortable with the policy, perhaps others will too.

Cathay Pacific is the first Oneworld airline to offer such an exception. All other exemptions from other airlines center around validated medical reasons, rather than choice. Could a British Airways, or American Airlines follow next? Or will we see airlines from other alliances begin to ease mask requirements on board?

It’s a brave new time ahead for airlines, that’s for sure.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. We flew business class on Qatar Airways Jan 27. I was told to put my mask on between sips of champagne while sitting in a QSuite during flight. Their website no longer mentions business class exemption – it says all passengers for the duration of the flight. There are exemptions for medical & young children. https://www.qatarairways.com/en/safety-measures.html

    1. @Anonymous then Qatar should really do another press statement stating this, as hundreds of news and business websites have written about their business class mask/shield policy but according to you this is not the case anymore. Bit annoying really with the huge social distancing you can practise in a Qsuite it really shouldn’t be such an issue.

  2. This has to be one of the most ludicrous rules. Its not like the virus chooses only to infect those who are flying first and business when they are awake.
    This sad refusal to wear masks and follow basic precautions by a lot of spoilt individuals has led to the many mutations that we see.

    1. It just shows the ever growing gap between the working/middle class and the rich. Thats how they want it to be, ever increasing, no matter what excuse they can achieve it with.

    2. Wearing the mask does next to nothing, it’s mostly for show. A respiratory virus is only stopped by a respirator, and even then you have to constantly dispose of and sterilize everything around you if you’re truly going to prevent any spread. This has all been virtue signaling at its worst.

      1. If the mask is not a N95+ Respirator approved by OSHA or NIOSH it is useless in filtering viral particulates. Since I rarely seen anyone wearing one, besides myself, typically made by 3M, nor Fauci, the CDC, or NIH mandating this critical safety measure, I will not wear a mask when I am paying up to 10K for a First or Business Class seat where there is appropriate social distancing and being vaccinated. By the way, why doesn’t the airlines mandate passenger vaccination?

    3. And your science major came from Google? MASKS do not help and only harm the wearer. If you have symptoms stay home out of courtesy so you do not pass on this lab made flu ahem c19. You people are weak links and absolutely no way will I nor people like me be dragged down by your brainwashed fear mentality. Do you have at least one braincells left to realise what is going on? 0.01% of health compromised people are at risk of the flue ahem c19 yet kill to lives and health of 99.99% to in an attempt to save a sinking ship.

      1. Before you criticise the typos. English isn’t my first language and my keyboard is broken so selects incorrect keys. I am sure you can decipher what I am saying unless you need the government to help you translate. After all they love you so much and care so much about your health

      2. 55 million people die every year,,from all kinds of stuff including the flu,,we’re is the proof that how many people died from this Covid-flu ,they contracted from flying,3 million when you believe died from Covid ,to me a pandemic would be the other way around55 million would’ve bin death from Covid I say we have a pandemic not 3 from the 55 is still 52 million died,,,,whatever it is you people should get a calculator and get some numbers,,,and ask WHY,is this a pandemic,,150000 deaths a day in this world and because this crab killings are up everywhere and suicidal has major increase

    1. Covid is invented overpriced flu a pandemic is when people drop like flys 10-20-30 million not 600000 in a 15-16 month period,8 billion people in the world and in the same months les then 4 million died were is the pandemic,and were is the proof that lives are save by wearing a mask anywhere,,people are overdoing this crap,,,and this is for the believers when it’s time for you to go the mask I guarantee you is not going to stop it,,,,,,

  3. The Hollywood rich, political elite, and wealthy Chad all get rules different from the rest of us peons. we get the brunt of these stupid rules for the fake pandemic. You can be sure if this was as deadly as they claim there wouldn’t be a first class or business class exemption!

  4. It should be like this everywhere. This virus “danger” has been so overblown … It’s all fear…..fear fear…

  5. What a stupid idea. Do the really feel that because they are rich they won’t get it. You damn rich folks need to get over yourselves

    1. It’s not because they’re rich they won’t get it, it’s because they’re rich they can afford seats spaced apart much further, with a better filteration than congested cramped on top of each other economy seats.

  6. Shame of Government Officials allowing those airlines to segregate people. Clear message that some are more equal than others.
    This message is for Government of Canada & thanks for your column.
    Kostadin Handjiyski

    1. The hidden message is there is no need to do what you are complying with. Wake up. The world needs us all to stop this tyranny. Trials were done in the 60’s where they instilled fear for 2 moths solid and were then told the truth and were so brainwashed they believed the lie. See how powerful it is what they are doing? Its easier to con people than to convince them they have been conned…..problem with this con is it affects us all when you do not stand united with the truth seekers and whistle-blowers. Help us rather than send us all to our peril and slavery

      1. Amen!

        It is all about power and control and masks have been proven to harm the wearer just like the Vaccines are killing and disabling their patients! This is done on purpose!

  7. You don’t need to be rich to fly business class, the bigger issue for most is the negative image. Many who fly economy could comfortably fly business, but choose not to. Their loss. I flew business with Emirates recently and was only required to wear the mask if I got out of my seat to visit the lounge or bathroom.

    1. The article was posted to cause more divide. Wale up and realise masks do not help. Your people seriously need to do some research on the truth of what is going on here. You have a respinsiblilty to your family, future generations and your fellow man. This is not about your health. A blind man can see that

  8. Is there anyway I can get a flight ✈️ to Manchester UK? From South Africa 🇿🇦. Can anyone help me with info please? Willing to go for the test and isolation.

    1. If you are a British citizen, or have residency in the UK, then you can fly to the UK. If you are not, then you will not be allowed in if you have been to South Africa in the last 10 days.

      If you do have residency rights or citizenship in the UK then to come here from SA you have to land at either:

      London Heathrow
      London Gatwick
      London City
      Farnborough (very very few commercial planes fly here)

      If you land at another airport having travelled from SA, or somewhere else en route from SA, then you risk a £10,000 fine and transport costs from the airport you land at to the place where you are quarantined.

      Source: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/booking-and-staying-in-a-quarantine-hotel-when-you-arrive-in-england#where-you-can-arrive

      That’s the situation at the moment anyway.

      1. I should add as well that if you are allowed in you currently have to pay £1750 to undergo mandatory quarantine at a hotel when you get to the airport (you need to book this before you land).

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