For the last two years, traveling by air has been synonymous with masking up for several consecutive hours and being scolded by flight attendants when your mask slips below your nose. But that's all about to change.
On Monday it was announced that Biden's mask mandate for airplanes and other forms of public transportation was dropped. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had extended the mask mandate until May 3, but a federal judge stepped in to strike down the requirement altogether.
You No Longer Have to Wear a Mask on Airplanes, Thanks to a Federal Judge in Florida
Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle voided the mask mandate, citing the Public Health Services Act of 1944 and saying that the CDC had exceeded its legal authority. “If Congress intended this definition, the power bestowed on the C.D.C. would be breathtaking,” she wrote. “And it certainly would not be limited to modest measures of ‘sanitation’ like masks." She also pointed out that if the government's interpretation of the CDC's powers were consistent, they would mandate businesses to install air filtration systems and require people to cough into their elbows and take daily multivitamins.
The judge's ruling means the decision on mask mandates will ultimately be left up to the individual airlines and local transit agencies, but the major airlines—Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue—have already announced that their mandates are no longer in effect.
The mandate had previously been extended five times even though airlines and travel industry officials had been requesting for the restrictions to be lifted or at least eased. Many airlines announced the lifting of the mandates mid-air during a flight, and there was some footage captured of passengers celebrating the news.
The Biden administration is still reviewing the ruling and deciding whether they should appeal it, considering that the CDC still recommends that people wear masks in public transportation settings.