The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Tuesday extended a federal requirement that travelers wear masks on commercial flights, buses and trains through January 18.
While airlines including Southwest and Spirit have warned about a drop in bookings and higher cancellations, U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes said, “Extending the federal mask mandate for travel makes sense for the current health environment and has the travel industry’s full support.
“The universal wearing of masks in airports and on airplanes, trains and other forms of public transportation is both an effective safeguard against spreading the virus and boosts public confidence in traveling—both of which are paramount for a sustained economic recovery.”
“The purpose of TSA’s mask directive is to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” said TSA.
The Federal Aviation Administration has received 3,889 unruly passenger reports this year, nearly 74% of them related to violations of the mask mandate.
The Association of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson said, “While vaccination has been key to the increased air travel demand, the lagging vaccination rates and rise of the Delta variant has caused cases to skyrocket again – threatening lives, continued virus mutation, and recovery from this pandemic,”.