Tuesday’s announcement of a Tampa judge striking down the federal mask mandate two weeks earlier than expected, really threw everyone off guard. You can tell that some airlines were already working on their action plan for May 3, which was supposed to be the end of the mask mandate.
Some airlines had press releases ready to go and they used them. Every U.S. airline now makes face masks optional, as well as ride shares and most trains. Here’s the list and how they announced it on Twitter.
However, even though it might feel like we’re done with COVID-19, it’s obvious COVID isn’t done with us as cases are on the rise and experts predict more deadlier variants could be in the pipeline.
Only time will tell but if you don’t want to take any chances, then I would follow the advice of reputable doctors.
By now, we all know that the best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated, boosted, wear a solid mask, wash your hands and wipe down high-touch areas.
One highly-respected doctor I follow on Twitter is Dr. Eric Topol, who is an American cardiologist, scientist and the founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California. Yesterday, he tweeted a photo of himself from an airport, stating: “At the airport, with no interest for a visit with BA.2 or serving as an asymptomatic vector. Tight fit KN 94 underneath.”
At the airport, with no interest for a visit with BA.2 or serving as an asymptomatic vector. Tight fit KN 94 underneath pic.twitter.com/nSRLI7ivkV
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) April 19, 2022
One thing I learned from that tweet is not to let your guard down, even if some of your fellow passengers will. I also figured that if he’s double masking, then I may too.
During the pandemic, I took my own precautions as I started flying with a portable HEPA filter and on my last two flights (LAX-HNL on United $ HNL-LAX on Hawaiian), I put it on my two-year old’s seat since she’s unvaccinated. We also didn’t wear our masks the whole flight because we were in a two-row cabin and the row in front of us was empty.
I will definitely continue to wear my mask when traveling and especially on crowded public transportation or in a store where others are wearing one. I’m a team player so if someone is immunocompromised, I don’t want to risk giving them anything.
If you are immunocompromised or really worried about being near infected passengers, I would also look into booking a first class ticket so you have fewer people around you. I know what you’re thinking: That it costs a lot more money but thanks to fewer business travelers flying these days, that’s not always the case. In fact, sometimes premium seats can be cheaper than coach. It’s not common but it happens so always check the price of a first class ticket and inquire about the cost of an upgrade since it might not be much more money (especially when you factor in baggage, seat assignments and food. And if you have miles and points, use them.
As for when I’m traveling to and from the airports in either an Uber/Lyft or a Blacklane, I’m comfortable not wearing a mask as long as the windows are rolled down to get fresh air. If it’s raining, I will wear my mask and bust out my portable air filter just as I have in the past.
But hopefully with the mask mandate ending (I really don’t see it being re-instated at this point), let’s hope people will be less unruly on planes. There were close to 6,000 such incidents last year and 72% of them were face mask-related
If your seatmate is wearing a mask and tells you they are immunocompromised, then be a good human and a team player and put one on as well.