TSA extends federal mask mandate for planes, travel through April 18

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly says his airline will not be lobbying for another mask mandate extension.

Mask mandates are being lifted across the country but airlines and airports won’t be added to the list for at least one more month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the Transportation Security Administration’s mask mandate, which requires travelers to mask up on airplanes, trains, buses and in airports and train stations, will be extended through April 18. This is the fourth extension since the mandate was announced in January, 2021 and covers the busy spring break travel season.

“(Through April 18), CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor,” the agency said in a statement Thursday. “This revised framework will be based on the COVID-19 community levels, risk of new variants, national data, and the latest science. We will communicate any updates publicly if and/or when they change.”

USA TODAY reached out to the TSA for comment. 

A masked passenger boarding a plane.

The new date will push the length of time U.S. airline passengers have had to wear a mask near the two year mark. JetBlue Airways was the first carrier to impose a mask requirement, in early May 2020, and was quickly followed by competitors.

Airlines, unions and consumer advocates pushed the federal government for months to mandate the policy so flight attendants had backing when encountering passenger resistance but found no support from President Donald Trump’s administration.






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