Backing Up Flight Attendants and the Federal Mask Mandate
March 4, 2022
Masks. The word itself elicits a response that can best be described as exhausting. Talking about the pros and the cons of wearing or not wearing a mask, our efforts at enforcement of the federal transportation mask mandate, and the controversy with which we are faced every day we go to work all can be simply overwhelming regardless of which side of the issue on which we may individually stand.
Nonetheless, the federal transportation mask mandate is in place through March 18, 2022.
Recognizing the diversity of our Membership, we are aware some AFA members have said they want it extended while others have said they would prefer it was not. Either way, as long as it is in place Flight Attendants are charged with managing it on the plane. AFA continues to advise the public of the role of Flight Attendants, so they are not focusing frustrations on the crew, in response to any of our safety instructions. AFA’s focus is backing up Flight Attendants who are simply doing our job.
Regrettably, this week there has been misinformation and inaccurate reporting in the press, which has since been corrected but that nevertheless has created confusion on where AFA stands on the issue. On Thursday, February 17, our union received questions from a handful of reporters asking if we heard whether the mask mandate would be extended. AFA International responded that we were hearing it may be extended in the near term based on the following certain conditions specific to aviation.
- The airplane is a unique, but controlled environment for everyone’s safety.
- Our youngest passengers do not yet have access to the vaccine.
- Safety procedures are typically harmonized around the world.
- Passenger confidence in the safety of air travel is critical.
None of this was news. However, only one of those reporters used our response, but misrepresented what had been said. The story incorrectly claimed AFA had taken a position on extending the mask policy. We had not. A week later this incorrect report traveled throughout media outlets, blogs, and social media. AFA worked hard to get these inaccurate reports corrected and we were successful. We want everyone to know, our focus remains on ensuring Flight Attendants receive the support to which we are entitled to doing our job and those violent passengers are kept off of our aircraft.