a man wearing a face mask

If you’ve been putting off travel in hopes of removing masks at the airport, or in flight, you’ll need to kick the ticket a bit further down the line. Perhaps, much.

The United States has officially extended its federal mask mandate for airports and airplanes, and masks are here to stay into 2022, at least. With an alarming rise in air rage incidents, here’s what you need to know about the present and future of this federal law for air travel.

US Extends Federal Mask Mandate

The United States has now extended the mask requirement through January 18th, 2022, ahead of a previously scheduled September 13th, expiration. Sources suggest it’s unlikely the federal mandate will be dropped in January, unless a significant change in the global health crisis happens between now and then.

The TSA’s federal mask mandate applies to US airports and airplanes, as well as all flights in bound for the United States.

a man wearing a face mask

Most countries still mandate wearing masks on board flights. The extended mandate still allows passengers to remove their masks briefly while eating food or drinking, but passengers are remain obliged to don them when finished.

US airlines required masks before the US added a federal mandate, but the distinction adds an element of US law, rather than policy.

All Or Nothing, Whenever

Imagine a world where some countries had mask mandates, others didn’t, and people had connecting flights. Quite frankly, it would be a complete mess. Airlines and unions are championing the extension of the mask mandate for now.

At the same time, airlines which rely on leisure travel, such as Southwest, are worried about falling bookings. Delta variant concerns are growing in areas of low vaccination levels, and gripes about the current travel experience are crushing discretionary travel.

If masks are ever going to be dropped as a transportation requirement, a globalized approach appears to be the only way out. Travelers still struggle with the requirement at present despite a unified approach, and having different rules for varying states or countries would be impossible.

It’s more than likely that the United States will set the tone in aviation requirements going forward, and for now, that means masks worn on planes and in airports well into January, 2022.

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