Do I have to wear a mask on my flight? All the current UK airline rules



As the UK’s major airlines begin to announce the easing of mask rules, it can be difficult to keep track of the different policies.

While four major carriers have announced that face coverings will no longer be compulsory on their flights, the days of masking up on a plane are far from over.

For starters, individual rules in some departure points (including within the UK) and stricter destinations mean you will still have to wear a mask on some flights – including those operated by the airlines who have announced a relaxation of their mask policy.

Meanwhile some airlines are keeping things simple by continuing to require masks for all passengers on all routes, while Heathrow Airport is no longer demanding people wear masks in its terminals (though, confusingly, it still “strongly recommends” doing so).

The EU ended its bloc-wide mask mandate on 16 May, meaning it no longer requires all European airlines to demand masks, with carriers able to make their own rules; meanwhile in the US, the federal mask mandate was overturned on 19 April, meaning masks are now optional on all flights operating from and within the US.

So do you have to wear (or at least pack) a mask for your next flight?

Here’s the current situation across the UK and Ireland’s major airlines.

EasyJet

The short answer is: Yes, you’ll have to wear a mask on flights to and from all but 17 destinations.

Since 27 March, easyJet has relaxed rules slightly, so that masks are not mandatory on flights where neither the departure point nor the destination demands them. So, with England and Iceland both having relaxed their Covid rules, passengers on London to Reykjavik plans can choose not to wear a mask (although the airline still advises that they should).

The full line-up of “mask optional” destinations in EasyJet’s network is: England, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Isle of Man, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Scotland, Slovenia, Sweden, Gibraltar, Hungary, Switzerland, Poland and Iceland.

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If you’re not flying to or from any of these countries on easyJet, you will have to mask up – including flights to popular destinations such as Spain, France and Greece. “Many of the countries we fly to still legally require that masks are worn and you may need one at the airport, at the gate and during your flight,” warns the policy on its website.

In most cases, this means a surgical-style or cloth face mask for everyone aged six and above. The exception is plans to Italy, Austria, France and Germany, where – on all flights from, to and within the countries – everyone over six is ​​required to wear a specific, high-quality FFP2 mask.

British Airways

Masks are now optional on BA flights, apart from 42 destinations where the country you’re flying to or from demands them. BA changed its policy in mid-March, relaxing the requirement to wear masks on some flights. However, it says: “As an international airline flying all around the world, we are obliged to ensure our customers continue to comply with local restrictions and meet the requirements of the destination they arrive at.”

This means that on flights from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to, say, Iceland or Norway – where all remaining Covid restrictions have been dropped – BA no longer insists on compulsory mask-wearing, though passengers are welcome to continue wearing them. Meanwhile, for flights to and from countries that do demand masks, passengers will have to wear them for the whole flight and disembarkation process.

It gives a handy online table of 42 of its destinations which still require masks to be worn on flights – including Australia, Spain, Italy, the US and UAE. It clarifies that Austria and Italy both require an FPP2-style masks without a valve.

BA also suggests customers keep a mask handy, both for wearing when disembarking in their destination and in case of any last-minute rule changes.

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Jet2

On 1 March, Jet2 became the first UK airline to make masks optional on most of its flights. It announced that masks would no longer be mandatory “at our airports or onboard our aircraft”, but emphasizes that it still recommends wearing on during a flight, adding that masks will need to be kept handy for arrival in some destinations.

It refers its passengers to the individual rules for their destination, saying: “If you fail to wear a face mask in some destinations, you could face a fine from the local authorities. Please check the FCDO website for more information.” Unlike some other airlines, its mask policy does not go into detail about individual mask rules in different countries. It does specify that a surgical-style or fitted reusable mask is required when they are needed to be worn, saying: “coverings such as scarves, snoods, balaclavas or similar items are a no-no”.

You

Since 11 March, masks have been optional on Tui flights from England and Northern Ireland, with the airline still recommending passengers still wear them. On 20 April, this was updated to include flights to and from Scotland. “Face masks will no longer be a legal requirement on Tui Airways flights to/from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, however in line with UK government and EU Charter guidance, we strongly recommend that you still wear a mask throughout your flight, ” reads its mask policy.

It indicates that masks may need to be brought to wear when arriving in a passenger’s destination, but leaves it up to the customer to find that out. As with easyJet, Tui emphasizes that certain countries, including Italy, require passengers six and over to wear an FPP2 style mask on flights to and from the country.

Virgin Atlantic

Following the US mask mandate being overturned on 19 April, Virgin’s mask policy was updated to say: “Face masks will be a personal choice for our customers and people traveling in either direction between the UK and the United States”.

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The carrier is adding destinations to a list of “mask optional” countries as various nations relax their restrictions, with the current line-up reading: USA, Pakistan, Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, The Bahamas, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago and Tel Aviv.

However, masks must still be worn by anyone 12 and over on its flights to and from Delhi, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lagos, Mumbai and Shanghai. And you’ll still need a face mask handy for the other end of your journey. “Customers may be asked to wear a mask when boarding or disembarking flights, according to the regulations of the departure or arrival airport or destination country/US state,” reads its online policy.

Ryanair

From 16 May, you’ll need to wear a mask on routes to and from 14 destinations with Ryanair – but masks will be optional on all other routes. The Ireland-based carrier changed its mask policy in line with the updated advice from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which announced that the EU would drop its bloc-wide mask mandate from 16 May.

Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson said on 11 May: “We welcome this rule relaxation from EASA and the ECDC effective from Monday, 16 May next. From that date, face masks will be optional on all Ryanair flights except those flights to/from the 14 EU States where masks remain mandatory on public transport.”

The countries you must continue to wear a mask on Ryanair flights to and from are: Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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