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United Expands Mask Policy - No Mask, No Fly.

Date: July 22, 2020

Today, July 23, 2020, United announced an expansion of the mandatory mask requirement to include gates and terminals, effective July 24, 2020. United will also be limiting the number of exceptions to the policy: only children under the age of two are exempt. This is an expansion from last month’s strengthened mandatory mask policy which established that flight benefits of passengers who refused to comply with our policy while onboard a United flight would be suspended.  

United’s face covering policy was created under the guidance of the corporation’s on-staff medical team, public health officials and experts at Cleveland Clinic: “United’s extended face mask policy adds another layer of protection for travelers, even before they board an aircraft,” said Dr. James Merlino, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer at Cleveland Clinic. “Wearing a face mask is an incredibly simple measure that we all can take to help slow the spread of COVID-19. They act as a barrier to keep respiratory droplets from entering the air, where someone else could breathe them in and possibly become infected. The more people that wear masks, the less risk there is of others being exposed to the virus.”

How will this work?

As when United made masks or face coverings mandatory onboard, employees will first offer a free mask to any customer who is not wearing one. If the customer refuses to comply, employees will provide a reminder card to the customer that outlines the company’s face covering policy. Customers who refuse to comply with the onboard policy could be refused travel and banned from flying United at least while the mask requirement is in place. If a passenger believes there are extraordinary circumstances that warrant an exception, leaders at our airports will use MedLink’s medical expertise for a transmission risk analysis posed by the customer.

Employee mask policy

This expanded face covering/mask policy follows on the heels of yesterday’s announcement which clarified the employee mask policy.  That is, all employees are required to wear a mask or face covering in public areas or in private areas while on property where social distancing is not possible. If an employee violates this policy, it is the company’s position that the employee is  subject to discipline up to and including termination. 

While AFA Is fully supportive of the mask requirement and has expressed a view that everyone should wear a mask, customers and employees alike, the Union has expressed its disagreement with the company’s planned accelerated discipline program where, in an extreme circumstance, forgetting to put the mask on your face in as little as one instance, could result in the employee’s termination.  The Union has filed a MEC Grievance disputing not the policy or the intent behind it – to get people to wear masks to protect each other – but the accelerated approached to discipline.


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