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Snacking and Demasking

Date: March 23, 2021

Flight Attendants know first-hand the difficulties in managing passengers during a global pandemic. We have worked hard to ensure passenger and crew safety, while simultaneously working to create a welcome and warm environment.

Despite the mask requirements at both the federal and company level, Flight Attendants are still in the uncomfortable position of having to constantly remind passengers to properly wear or to replace their mask if they have removed it. While our job is to keep everyone safe and enforce the law, the near-constant reminders to passengers creates an environment where it may appear that Flight Attendants are required to be “mask police.” We are not.

The new addition of snacks and the rollout of alcoholic beverages in particular, creates an even more difficult situation for working crew. In addition to already prolonged contact with passengers, reports are that United's sales software is glitchy creating frustration for both crew and passengers alike, and we are now providing more opportunities to remove masks for eating and drinking. We’ve said this before, but introducing alcohol to this mix creates even more problems. In addition to having the mask off longer to consume alcoholic beverages, it’s a fact that alcohol reduces inhibitions and impairs judgement and creates a toxic environment for Flight Attendants already struggling with mask compliance.

While we are on the road towards recovery with vaccinations and federal mask mandates, we are not yet at a place where the sale of food and particularly alcohol, amidst a continuing pandemic is the right decision. United wants to “meet the needs of our passengers,” they should also more importantly “meet the safety needs of their Flight Attendants.”

As the company explores this new option we should remain vigilant in maintaining a properly masked aircraft and use the tools at our disposal if food or beverage availability leads to non-compliance. An IOR (with copy to the Union), should be sent for mask compliance issues, including those escalating from the consumption of onboard food and alcohol.

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