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Do I need to wear a mask during travel?

On May 1, 2020, we introduced the Southwest® Promise describing our stringent cleaning and Safety practices to support the health and wellness of our Employees and Customers, in response to this unprecedented time. Requiring face coverings or masks encompasses how we will support a “new normal” in travel while continuing to demonstrate the same warmth, care, and reliability our Customers expect from us every day.




Why are masks required?  

We continue to evaluate the latest scientific research on the effectiveness of wearing masks in air travel to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard. Findings from Harvard's School of Public Health indicate that if masks are worn by all Passengers, the risk of infection from respiratory particles may be reduced to less than 1%. Learn more about this research: Letting Research Guide Our Southwest Promise 


What’s an acceptable form of a mask or face covering 

In accordance with the current CDC guidance, a well-secured cloth or mask that fits snugly against the face, covers an individual’s nose and mouth, and is secured under the chin will be accepted. In alignment with the intention of this policy, these are a few examples of coverings that will not be accepted: (1)Those with holes in the covering, including those with exhalation valves or those made solely of materials like mesh or lace fabrics and (2)Those that cannot be secured under the chin, including bandanas and face shields. Face shields may be worn in addition to face coverings, but not in place of face coverings. Neck gaiters (also called multi-bands) may be worn as face coverings so long as they cover the nose and mouth and are secured under the chin.


What happens if I forget my face covering?  

If you do not bring a mask or a face covering, Southwest will provide you with one. 


Will children be required to wear face coverings 

Children under the age of two who may not be able to keep a face covering on will be exempt.


I have a medical condition that prevents me from being able to wear a face covering. Will I be required to wear one 

If a Customer is unable to wear a face covering for any reason (even a verifiable medical condition), we regret that we are unable to transport the Customer at this time, due to safety risk of asymptomatic COVID-19 transmission by Customers without face coverings. In other words, because of public health guidance recognizing the important role of face coverings in preventing the transmission of COVID-19, Southwest will temporarily refuse to transport any passenger who is unable to wear a mask even if the Customer has a verifiable medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.​


When will I be required to wear a face covering?  

Customers will be required to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth at all times during their Southwest travel experience—while checking in, boarding, while inflight, deplaning, retrieving baggage; and any other time they may engage with a Southwest Employee or another Customer. Customers are required to wear a face covering in order to board the plane.


We do acknowledge there may be times when a Customer needs to briefly remove their face covering, for instance, to eat, drink, or take medicine. However, we expect these instances to be very brief, and Customers should put their face covering back on as soon as possible. Customers should remove face coverings if a decompression event occurs and they are asked to use an oxygen mask.


While traveling during the pandemic can seem daunting, Southwest Rapid Rewards Customer Colleen shared why she felt safe flying Southwest with her mother and her father, a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel:


For more information about our Southwest Promise and other travel guidelines, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.
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