Consumers are responding positively on social media to the news that JetBlue will require passengers to wear face masks as of May 4.
The policy requires that noses and mouths be covered throughout the journey, including during check-in, boarding, while in flight and deplaning. Customers will be reminded of this requirement before their flight via email and at the airport by both terminal signage and announcements. Small children who are not able to maintain a face covering are exempt from this requirement.
A Facebook post announcing the new rule on JetBlue’s company page had garnered 692 comments and 601 shares as of Tuesday afternoon. The vast majority (about 91%) of comments on the post were positive. Of the 2,500 reactions, 2,100 “liked” it, 269 “loved” it, 79 were angry, nine were sad and 40 were “wow.”
Sentiment on Twitter was running about 83% positive on Tuesday afternoon.
“Finally, the first attempt of a set of safe and healthy protocols in the airline business under COVID-19 pandemic. Well done JetBlue,” tweeted Julio C. Rodrigues, a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
One user tweeted that the airline should have enacted the protocol sooner.
“How is this JUST being enforced while I’ve spent weeks wearing a face mask just to pop in the market for cereal?” tweeted Marlise Boland, a producer in Los Angeles.
JetBlue made “an appropriate decision,” said Henry Harteveldt, a former airline executive and founder of travel-industry consulting firm Atmosphere Research Group.
“Requiring passengers to wear masks, and having them available for passengers who do not have them, or whose mask may not be usable, is smart,” Harteveldt tells Marketing Daily. “Face masks are the new in-seat power -- having them available to passengers means the passenger has one less thing to worry about when traveling.”
The Association of Flight Attendants, in favor of all passengers wearing masks, applauded JetBlue for taking the lead.
"Most U.S. airlines are now requiring flight attendants to wear a mask while working, but we need passengers to wear masks in order to best protect everyone onboard, including crew,” says AFA President Sara Nelson. “All airlines should follow JetBlue's lead, including its efforts to fully communicate the change before it becomes effective next week so that flight attendants are not put in the position of being enforcers without information and backing from the airline.”
The AFA sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and U.S. Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar on April 23 asking for stronger measures to protect flight crews and passengers from the spread of COVID-19, including mandating all crews, employees and passengers wear masks onboard and in the airports.
JetBlue has modeled its policy on the Centers for Disease Control guidelines that indicate all individuals should wear a face covering in public to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself it’s about protecting those around you,” says Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer, JetBlue in a release. “This is the new flying etiquette. Onboard, cabin air is well circulated and cleaned through filters every few minutes, but this is a shared space where we have to be considerate of others. We are also asking our customers to follow these CDC guidelines in the airport as well.”
Since late March, JetBlue has limited the number of seats available for sale on most flights, allowing the airline to provide additional space between individuals who are not traveling together. Before each flight, JetBlue reviews seat assignments to ensure as much personal space as possible. In addition, rows near crew jump seats have been blocked off to create buffer zones for added crew and customer safety.
All of JetBlue’s aircraft are equipped with hospital grade high-efficiency air particulate (HEPA) filters, capable of removing 99.97 percent of particles, bacteria and viruses.
American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are requiring face masks of employees but not yet of customers. American will make them available to customers for free starting in May.
Delta is “strongly encouraging” customers to wear masks and will offer them for free at ticket counters, gates and on flights. The airline now requires employees to wear masks or face coverings if they come within six feet of customers or other employees. Delta is also blocking middle seats in main cabin, Delta Comfort+ and Delta Premium Select across all flights and reducing the number of customers on each flight, with the aim of social distancing.