By Dimitra Lavrakas
Senior Voice Travel Correspondent 

Airline mask mandate: It's all up to you now


May 1, 2022 | View PDF

On April 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the Transportation Security Administration had issued an extension of the mask mandate until May 3 after the CDC’s “close monitoring of the COVID-19 landscape in the United States and internationally.”

But federal officials stopped that enforcement on travel on April 18 after U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the Middle District of Florida ruled the mandate exceeded the statutory authority of the CDC.

With that, some airlines announced that masks are now optional, including Alaska Airlines.

Ironically, the CDC updated its Travel Health Notice system for international travel on April 18, the same day the judge struck down the mandate.

The CDC said the new health notice was “to help the public understand when the highest level of concern is most urgent, this new system will reserve Level 4 travel health notices for special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or healthcare infrastructure collapse. Levels 3, 2, and 1 will continue to be primarily determined by 28-day incidence or case counts.”

The CDC will use this system to alert travelers to health threats around the world and advise on how to protect themselves before, during and after travel. It will alert them when it is not advisable to travel to a certain destination, regardless of their vaccination status.

People are more than ready to travel again with or without masks, but there still is that pesky problem of flights canceled because of severe weather and a lack of pilots.

Bon voyage indeed.


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