Plane travel and coronavirus: United Airlines to blacklist flyers who don't wear masks

United Airlines is doubling down on its mandatory mask policy.

The airline announced Monday that any passenger who refuses to comply with its mask requirement will be placed on an "internal travel restriction list," starting Thursday.

"Customers on this list will lose their travel privileges on United for a duration of time to be determined pending a comprehensive incident review," United Airlines said in a statement.

United first implemented its mask policy for customers in early May to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The airline said its mask requirement will stay in place for "at least the next 60 days."

There are currently more than 2.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US and counting.

United flight attendants and other frontline employees such as pilots, customer service agents and ramp workers are also required to wear masks.

"Today's announcement is an unmistakable signal that we're prepared to take serious steps, if necessary, to protect our customers and crew," United's chief customer officer Toby Enqvist said in the statement.

According to the new policy, flight attendants will be required to ask passengers without face coverings to use a mask and will also offer one, if needed. If the passenger continues to refuse, the flight attendant will file a report of the incident, initiating a formal review process.

"Any final decision or actions regarding a customer's future flight benefits will not occur onboard but instead take place after the flight has reached its destination and the security team has investigated the incident," the airline added.

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Last week, United said they will require passengers to fill out a preflight health checklist during check-in.

United's "Ready to Fly" checklist asks passengers to confirm, among other things, that they have not had COVID-19-related symptoms in the past 14 days; been diagnosed with the virus in the past 21 days; or had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

American, Delta, Southwest, Alaska, Frontier and JetBlue have all announced passenger mask requirements.

"US airlines are very serious about requiring face coverings on their flights. Carriers are stepping up enforcement of face coverings and implementing substantial consequences for those who do not comply with the rules," said Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio in a statement Monday alongside United's newest policy. "Face coverings are one of several public health measures recommended by the CDC as an important layer of protection for passengers and customer-facing employees."

USA TODAY

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