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United Includes Face Covering/Masks as Required Duty Item

Date: May 23, 2020

MEC safety Health and Security Committee 

Wearing a face mask or covering while on duty onboard the aircraft is not an option, but is now identified as part of our safety-related duty items required in accordance with United’s Policy and Procedure manual and is now included as part of general Flight Attendant responsibilities. 

The following instances identifies when a face covering/mask must be worn: 

  • On board the aircraft, including any situation (boarding, during service, etc.) where either social distancing cannot be maintained and/or in view of customers
  • In terminals and other airport public spaces where required by local mandate (e.g., EWR)
  • When traveling on board as a passenger (e.g., deadhead, positive space or space-available)
  • Any other situations while in uniform when social distancing cannot be maintained (e.g., in the base)

Exceptions to Face Mask Requirement:

  • When wearing a face covering/mask significantly impedes the ability to perform other job functions (e.g., making an onboard announcement)
  • In decompression scenarios when the flight attendant needs to don an oxygen mask or in situations where PBEs are required
  • During crew rest, when effective social distancing can be maintained and not in view of customers
  • While in the base and effective social distancing can be maintained
  • When eating or drinking, assuming effective social distancing can be maintained

Important note: 
Flight attendants who have medical restrictions that limit or prevent the performance of essential job functions while wearing the mask will have the option of engaging in the Reasonable Accommodation Process (RAP), where the medical team will work with other parties to review documentation and determine if or how the flight attendant can be accommodated. Flight attendants may use Sick Leave while their RAP is being processed. Those who do not wear a face covering/mask on board and are not engaged in RAP will receive a missed trip. Potential accommodation, if approved, may include a leave of absence option.

Additional information regarding the face covering / mask requirement can be found in the following Mask User Guide. Questions can be directed to your Local Council Safety, Health, and Security Committee. 


In addition, face coverings are now required at ORD in all public areas of the airport based on a requirement of the Chicago Department of Aviation.  This include all terminal concourse areas, TSA checkpoint and baggage claim.

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