Airline crews told not to enforce face mask policy onboard.
The big three US airlines have told their flight attendants to simply encourage passengers to wear face masks, but not enforce it.
American, Delta and United have said they will not force passengers to comply with their new policy requiring face coverings once onboard.
Although cabin crew cannot force a passenger to put on their face mask during the flight, carriers are allowed to deny boarding to passengers without one.
A memo shared by American Airlines to its pilots reads: “Once on board and off the gate, the face covering policy becomes more lenient. The flight attendant’s role is informational, not enforcement, with respect to the face covering policy.
“Bottom line to the pilots: a passenger on board your aircraft who is being compliant with the exception of wearing a face covering is NOT considered disruptive enough to trigger a Threat Level 1 response.”
Southwest Airlines also reminded its staff to approach the situation with “empathy and respect,” and to simply inform customers of the face mask policy but not enforce it.
“Although Southwest is not denying boarding based solely upon a Customer not wearing a mask, we are providing masks and strongly encouraging Customers comply with the policy out of respect for the well-being of other Customers and our Employees during these unprecedented times,” the statement reads.
The Federal Aviation Administration has declined to implement the requirement of face masks.
On Tuesday, the FAA said it would continue to engage in discussions about protecting the health and safety of flight crews and passengers.