Mask Mandate Enforcement
August 27, 2021
There is a great deal happening in our professional lives right now. We are well beyond our normal multi-tasking of tending to baggage stowage needs while simultaneously helping the family who isn’t seated with their kids to addressing another passenger’s connection concerns. While we are in the midst of addressing all of those very individualized passenger needs, we’re also tasked with keeping a plane full of passengers safe by ensuring everyone on the plane complies with the federal mask requirements.
Unfortunately, mask compliance has become a politically polarized issue and not everyone sees these requests as a matter of safety. As a result, a simple request to a passenger to wear their mask properly can become contentious in the blink of an eye. As Flight Attendants, we understand what is expected of us. We know that asking a passenger to wear a mask is the same type of safety and regulatory request as asking them to fasten their seatbelt. And, we know, passengers are expected to comply with requests of the crew.
Let’s remember that as a crew we work together and support each other. All crew members on a flight must step up, as we do every day, to enforce our safety regulations in a collaborative way and keep people safe and to support each other in our work. It’s never only one Flight Attendant’s job to remind people about mask compliance. We are all in this together and each one of us needs to do our part. While it is not an option to decide that you are not going to enforce mask compliance; all Flight Attendants are responsible for mask compliance and it’s also very easy to understand the reticence to broach the subject. We all ask ourselves, is the confrontation worth it? What are the implications of my efforts to use reason to ask someone to comply with federal law? More importantly, will I be supported by management if I make this request?
We do all need to be clear with each other. It’s about an honest conversation. If you do not address non-compliance on the airplane when you see it, you are not fulfilling your role as a safety professional. And, as difficult as it may be to accept, when we don’t, we are becoming a part of the problem. We simply cannot cede our authority onboard the aircraft, ever. And, we must continue to demand through our daily actions and our commitment to safety that management support our efforts.
Remember to use your Crew Resource Management skills - Situational Awareness and Workload Management. Pull together and support each other – every instance, every time. We all, including the passenger we are charged to care for, are safer for these efforts. By standing together on this issue, by requiring compliance and never ceding our authority on the aircraft, we become collectively and individually more capable of meeting not only the mask compliance issues, but the vast challenges we face daily in our current work environment.