a blue and white airplane flying in the sky

You may have seen the soundbite on a newscast, the US Department of Defense study, or just know it to be true.

Planes have the safest air environments of any public method of transportation, yet as countries remove all Covid-19 restrictions, flights continue to be singled out as the only mode of transportation where masks will still required.

In The Netherlands, where Covid-19 restrictions regarding masks will drop today on the 23rd of March — on all methods of public transportation, except planes — the flag carrier of the country is taking a defiant and highly amusing stand.

a blue and white airplane flying in the sky

KLM Won’t Enforce Mandate

Legally, KLM would be be running afoul of official government decree if it were to drop mandatory masks on planes. It’s not doing that. Instead, it’s just telling customers that the airline won’t enforce mask wearing from March 23rd, 2022.

Passengers will be told they’re strongly encouraged to wear a suitable face covering in line with current regulations and European Air Safety Agency (EASA) guidance, but the airline will not “monitor this” at all.

Customers are welcomed to use FFP2 grade masks or better to protect themselves as they wish, but the airline clearly isn’t amused at being singled out as the only ones, all despite providing better air safety features than any other method of public transport.

Again, the defiant stand is happening today because masks are no longer required on any public transit in the Netherlands, except planes.

Airlines hope that once the Government of the Netherlands realizes policies won’t be enforced, they’ll realize how foolish it is to have policy on the matter at all.

a man wearing a face mask

Real World Studies On Cabin Air

Real world studies have shown HEPA filters and other measures on planes, such as the direction of air flow to make cabin environments 15X safer than most indoor air spaces and up to 5X safer than even hospital air filters.

Yet somehow, planes keep getting singled out. Many airports in Europe have dropped mask mandates but efforts by airlines to drop masks have been stymied by confusing policy or rules which single out airlines, despite trains and busses dropping masks.

It’s a genuinely fair question why someone can breath unfiltered air three deep at a local bar, but can’t sit on a plane that’s been sanitized, filters air downward and has a hard refresh of cabin air 20-30 times per hour, which is 10X more than indoor spaces.

KLM Taking A Stand: Will Others?

KLM is taking a bold stand by publicly announcing it won’t enforce mask policy. This is a clean approach that people can understand.

Many airlines bungled mask policy in recent weeks when announcements were made that masks were to become optional, before a quick reversal with limited exceptions confused the matter.

Simply telling passengers that it’s “up to them” is bold, but bold and simple. If you want to wear a mask, or a full hazmat suit on a KLM flight for that matter, you’re welcome.

If you don’t want to wear a mask on board, you’re technically in breach of rules in the Netherlands but KLM doesn’t plan to do anything about it, now that people can ride mask-less on busses, subways, trains and cars. Seems fair enough, at least to me.

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. Bureaucrats are very reluctant to end mandates, because they love having power over other people’s lives.

      1. It’s not just about power; they also know they will be blamed if they change rules too quickly. And there are laws that prevent them from doing things quickly. In the US, it’s the Administrative Procedures Act.

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