Wear your face mask — show you care about others and want to stop the coronavirus
In today’s world wearing face masks while flying should be federally mandated. Travelers United thinks that the Runway to Recovery guidance document already published two major changes that consumers have been crying to be implemented. The “significant guidance” document can be interpreted as an emergency regulation, but the President, the media, the airlines, and Congress aren’t doing so for political reasons.
Why don’t the airlines and the government enforce the guidance requiring appropriate face coverings as mentioned in the document?
A key to fighting this pandemic seems to come down to having everyone flying wearing face masks. Whether aboard a flight or not, a face mask is a symbol that you care about protecting other people and it also protects you.
Let me put this in the crudest terms
For those who do not understand how when you wear your face mask it protects both the wearer and others.
This meme that has been circulating since late April/early May makes an important point about masks protecting others. I admit that the meme is not perfect, however, it gets the basic point across with humor. (Sorry, well not too sorry, for the bathroom humor.)
The meme breaks it down like this: If everyone is running around without pants on, if someone urinates, you’ll get wet right away. If you’re wearing pants and get urinated upon? Better coverage, less pee, less risk of infection. If you and the person urinating are both wearing pants? The person who pees keeps the pee with them, and it doesn’t impact your life at all.
Other publications picked up this bathroom humor take on wearing a mask.
The meme, perhaps, might prove useful at reinforcing the necessity of those precautions, according to Eleanor J. Murray, assistant professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health.
“I do think that it provides a useful analogy to help people understand how masks may help because it helps relate mask use to something that people can easily understand and personally, I believe that analogy is often a very useful tool for science and risk communication,” Murray said.
In the end, the experts agree that it’s important to wear pants and wear masks. No one wants to contract COVID-19.
Airlines are doing everything they can except requiring that people wear pants, it seems
Planes are cleaner than ever. Airlines scrub touchpoints like tray tables, armrests, toilets, handles, switches, and more every day. They spray aircraft with disinfectant at least every month. They wipe down galleys with food sanitizer. Some airlines have moved to “touchless” check-in. Passengers don’t have to interact with a human. Even the air on planes is cleaner than the air we breathe in office buildings and restaurants. TSA has made all but the occasional patdown a touchless experience.
Airlines are now pushing for TSA to start taking temperatures at airlines in the hopes that this process will somehow create more confidence. Unfortunately, temperature checks will not work. There is no direct connection with COVID-19, especially for those with no symptoms. Then again, fevers can be created by colds, the flu, running to catch a plane or an internal infection that is not contagious.
It is curious that airlines want no federal rule to help with face mask enforcement, but they are encouraging the TSA to focus on a non-security issue with no clear link to the current pandemic. Of course, it deflects responsibility from the airlines to a government agency.
If the airlines and Congress were serious about protecting passengers, they would embrace the Runway to Recovery recommendations.
Unfortunately, politics comes before consumer protection. It is a sad fact. It is being played out every day in DC. The President, Republicans, and the airlines want no new regulations. Democrats and the media don’t want to admit that the administration has done anything right. Airline consumers, in the meantime, have no enforceable national face mask rule and must fly when sick or often be forced to pay more.
In DC, it is politics as usual. Meanwhile, the travel industry is suffering from economic disaster and consumers are facing air travel without basic protections.
Charlie Leocha is the President of Travelers United. He has been working in Washington, DC, for the past 11 years with Congress, the Department of Transportation and industry stakeholders on travel issues. He was the first consumer representative to the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protections appointed by the Secretary of Transportation from 2012 through 2018.