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Safe (UNSAFE) flying during COVID pandemic

New Arrival

I just flew Denver to Boston, finally feeling a bit safe doing so due to the  universal masking requirement in place and hearing that airlines are addressing passengers who refuse to comply by making them in eligible to fly in the future.  I should state that I am a nurse who has worked in a hospital daily during the peak of COVID.  I wear a mask daily for 12 hours and know the false legends regarding masks causing CO2 build up, etc, are untrue.  I am healthy without brain damage!  I know how dangerous this novel virus is, as we treat previously unbelieving patients everyday and I know how important masking is to stopping the spread.  I can't believe I am writing this post flight, but I feel immensely more safe amongst COVID positive patients in a hospital than I did flying SWA airlines.  Hospitals are the best at controlling the spread of communicable diseases and SW has much to learn!  The masking rule was NOT enforced.  Everyone had a mask "on", but several passengers wore their masks below their noses,  I mentioned this to 2 flight attendants who said they could not confront passengers as there may be medical reason for their refusal to fully comply.  What?  The blatant disregard of what is scientifically proven as necessary to keep the remainder of passengers on a near 5 hour flight safe, and promoted as in place by SW Airlines, is not to be addressed? Be aware.  SW does not appear to be truly concerned about safety!  I will also note that on my initial flight from Boston to Denver, the tray table had crumbs  on it.  Guess the sanitation that is advertised to be in place between flights is also an urban legend.  SW is words without substance when promoting themselves as being safe to fly with.

16 REPLIES 16
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Re: Safe (UNSAFE) flying during COVID pandemic

Top Contributor

@suesand wrote:

I just flew Denver to Boston, finally feeling a bit safe doing so due to the  universal masking requirement in place and hearing that airlines are addressing passengers who refuse to comply by making them in eligible to fly in the future.  I should state that I am a nurse who has worked in a hospital daily during the peak of COVID.  I wear a mask daily for 12 hours and know the false legends regarding masks causing CO2 build up, etc, are untrue.  I am healthy without brain damage!  I know how dangerous this novel virus is, as we treat previously unbelieving patients everyday and I know how important masking is to stopping the spread.  I can't believe I am writing this post flight, but I feel immensely more safe amongst COVID positive patients in a hospital than I did flying SWA airlines.  Hospitals are the best at controlling the spread of communicable diseases and SW has much to learn!  The masking rule was NOT enforced.  Everyone had a mask "on", but several passengers wore their masks below their noses,  I mentioned this to 2 flight attendants who said they could not confront passengers as there may be medical reason for their refusal to fully comply.  What?  The blatant disregard of what is scientifically proven as necessary to keep the remainder of passengers on a near 5 hour flight safe, and promoted as in place by SW Airlines, is not to be addressed? Be aware.  SW does not appear to be truly concerned about safety!  I will also note that on my initial flight from Boston to Denver, the tray table had crumbs  on it.  Guess the sanitation that is advertised to be in place between flights is also an urban legend.  SW is words without substance when promoting themselves as being safe to fly with.


 

Unfortunately, I think it's true that there is an inherent level of risk when flying during the pandemic -- despite carriers like Southwest's attempts to mitigate it.

 

While I would like to see Southwest take a harder line with mask enforcement (there's some room for improvement there -- see what Alaska is doing), ultimately the legal exceptions for the disabled and flyers with medical issues allow exploitation by those who have decided to buy-in to the alternate political, not scientific, narrative, as justification for their rule-ignoring behavior.

 

Many feel the way you do, so it's disheartening to me to see Southwest miss an opportunity to help ensure that all passengers feel safe traveling, which would ultimately benefit their long-term business survival.

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Re: Safe (UNSAFE) flying during COVID pandemic

New Arrival

I will not take the risk again as long as there is a novel virus still out there that puts an entire plane at risk when not complied with.  Can understand why Logan was empty.  Smarter people know driving is safer when the mask requirement is not enforced.  I have learned my lesson first hand.

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Re: Safe (UNSAFE) flying during COVID pandemic

Top Contributor

@suesand wrote:

   Can understand why Logan was empty.  Smarter people know driving is safer when the mask requirement is not enforced.  I have learned my lesson first hand.

 

I hope you enjoy your 3 to 4 day drive from Denver to Boston.

 

Two Questions for you 

 

1) How many people die in car accidents every year?

 

2) How does that number compare to the numbers of people who have died as a result of plane related virus exposure?

 

Everything in life involves risk. Getting on a  plane involves risk. Getting n your car does too. Heck, taking your morning shower involves risk.

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Re: Safe (UNSAFE) flying during COVID pandemic

Active Member

IMO, your argument doesn't address the issue.  With a traffic accident, the injury/deaths end there.   With a virus, like the one we are facing, (with no vaccine) the injury/death moves forward and can affect more lives for months to come, if not for a year.  It is something that we can't even know the exact number of "how many die from it."  I know the direction you're coming from, but IMO, it doesn't fit this argument since we can't have exact data from both sides of the issue.  

 

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Re: Safe (UNSAFE) flying during COVID pandemic

Top Contributor

@suesand wrote:

  The masking rule was NOT enforced.  Everyone had a mask "on", but several passengers wore their masks below their noses,  I mentioned this to 2 flight attendants who said they could not confront passengers as there may be medical reason for their refusal to fully comply.  What?   


"What" is piece of federal legislation that let's people say that -- and there is not much the airline can do -- that is unless it wants to violate the AIr Carrier Access Act and face a lawsuit

 

Besides CDC itself has said that there are some people that should not wear a mask. As a nurse, I presume that you are familiar with what the CDC says about the virus. Are you saying the CDC is wrong?

 

Did you and other passengers get water and a snack from the flight attendants? If you flew from Denver to Boston, you/they sure did. Did you feel similarly incensed when passengers  removed their masks to consume those items?

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Re: Safe (UNSAFE) flying during COVID pandemic

New Arrival

Moving a mask away from a face briefly for short periods intermittently is not the same as having it off an entire lengthly flight in an enclosed place.  Some airlines have placed noncompliant passengers on do not fly lists- for example Delta.  If one cannot safely fly with a mask to protect an entire plane of passengers, why are they allowed the privilege of flying?  It is not safe to allow the potential infection of more people.  This is a horrible and dangerous virus.  I do not believe this subgroup of laughing noncompliant passengers were all experiencing an underlying medical condition that did not allow full masking the entire flight and post boarding.

 

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Re: Safe (UNSAFE) flying during COVID pandemic

Top Contributor

I don't believe anyone has a problem with the disabled or those with legitimate health issues that prevent them from wearing a mask. (Hopefully the use of face shields will gain greater acceptance as a mask replacement for those passengers.) The issue really is with those who choose to obviously flout the requirement, or those simply not taking the policy seriously. Stricter enforcement by Southwest would help, and there's definitely room for Southwest to improve in this area.

 

Gate announcements prior to boarding should reinforce the policy. (Right now this seems to be irregular, as if it's perhaps left to the agent's discretion.) Mask policy reminders should also be part of the FA's announcements while boarding and in-flight. Specifically, prior to cabin service a reminder should be made about only removing your mask briefly to eat or drink.

 

Those who seek an exception to the mask rule should be required to check in at the gate prior to boarding, just like those wishing to pre-board do. They should then be provided a document stating they have a mask exception, similar to a pre-boarding card.

 

This card could then be shown to an FA upon request, which would help crew identify those with valid exceptions. Anyone else not complying with the mask requirement would first be reminded of the policy and asked to please comply. If they refuse or continue later to not comply, they would be issued a written warning. (See what Alaska is doing for reference.)

 

Southwest should be wiling to apply penalties to those who refuse to follow policy. Those penalties should be spelled out as part of the health declaration passengers are required to acknowledge prior to getting their boarding pass, and shown on the written warning card given to non-compliant passengers.

 

For whatever reason, Southwest has decided to be relatively strict with their language regarding the mask policy, but generally lax when it comes to execution (so far at least). The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) does present challenges, but is no excuse for allowing just anyone to ignore the rules.

 

Southwest certainly must realize that helping to contain the virus is in their best interest. Greater mask compliance is a significant part of that. I'd love to see Southwest double-down on mask enforcement, especially now, as a response to carriers like United and American, who are packing planes full, in seeming disregard of the dangers.

 

Ultimately, with many customers expressing apprehension about flying specifically because of this issue, Southwest's bottom line is directly affected. Since that's generally the strongest motivator at Southwest, perhaps we'll see some movement in the right direction.

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Re: Safe (UNSAFE) flying during COVID pandemic

Top Contributor

@chgoflyer wrote:

 The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) does present challenges, but is no excuse for allowing just anyone to ignore the rules.

 

 The ACAA lets people who are not disabled pre-board, and there is nothing the airline can do about it.

 

Likewise,the ACAA lets people who simply do not want to wear a mask -  not wear that mask,, and there is nothing the airline can do about it.

 

The airline is prohibited by the ACAA from asking passengers why they need to pre-board or not wear a mask.

 

Until the law is changed, people, unfortunately, are going to game the system.

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Re: Safe (UNSAFE) flying during COVID pandemic

Top Contributor
Solution

@dfwskier wrote:

@chgoflyer wrote:

 The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) does present challenges, but is no excuse for allowing just anyone to ignore the rules.

 

 The ACAA lets people who are not disabled pre-board, and there is nothing the airline can do about it.

 

Likewise,the ACAA lets people who simply do not want to wear a mask -  not wear that mask,, and there is nothing the airline can do about it.

 

The airline is prohibited by the ACAA from asking passengers why they need to pre-board or not wear a mask.

 

Until the law is changed, people, unfortunately, are going to game the system.


 

Did you read my suggestions? There is actually quite a lot the carrier can "do about it." 😉

 

Stricter enforcement of the policy can coexist with full compliance with ACAA. I've outlined earlier lots of examples.

 

It's highly unlikely that every person flouting the rules onboard would go through the trouble to self-identify at the gate desk and receive their exception document if this policy were enacted.

 

Instead of using the ACAA as the excuse for just anybody ignoring the mask rule onboard, Southwest could easily make compliance with ACAA work to their advantage. Agents are allowed to ask certain questions regarding a passengers need for preboarding and could with respect to the mask policy. Essentially, the exception document policy would act as a deterrent to some who might otherwise just remove their mask onboard. It certainly wouldn't stop all the rule breakers, but I suspect it would help. At a minimum it would show that Southwest is serious about their policy.