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(Not Quite) Ready For Takeoff: Airlines Consider Mask, Booking Policies As They Settle In For Slower Summer During COVID-19




Passengers are welcomed on a Corendon plane departing from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport to Bulgaria's Burgas airport, on June 26, 2020, on the first holiday flight by the travel company since the novel coronavirus in March.
Passengers are welcomed on a Corendon plane departing from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport to Bulgaria's Burgas airport, on June 26, 2020, on the first holiday flight by the travel company since the novel coronavirus in March.
JEFFREY GROENEWEG/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

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It’s the time of year when air travel would normally be heating up -- June weddings and honeymoons that follow, family vacations, cruises, etc.

But amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers are opting not to tightly pack themselves into a giant metal tube with wings hurtling across the sky at 500 mph unless they absolutely have to, which means those family vacations and summer plans are being postponed or cancelled.

The news isn’t all dire for the air travel industry. Data from the Transportation Security Administration show that this past weekend saw more than 2.4 million travelers pass through a TSA checkpoint between Thursday and Sunday, which U.S. News & World Report says is new high during the coronavirus pandemic. Some domestic flights are returning, according to the Wall Street Journal, especially those to states that have reopened attractions or that offer a range of outdoor activities, but the policies as far as mask-wearing and whether airlines are booking flights to full capacity are a patchwork across the industry. Most of the major airlines including Delta, American Airlines, Southwest and United have implemented some sort of mask rule, but there is no federal policy mandating masks on domestic or international flights. American also just announced it would be booking flights to full capacity starting July 1, diverging from many other airlines who were opting to leave middle seats open in an effort to create more space between passengers. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week that LAX would be kicking off a two month trial program with thermal temperature screening at the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll check in on the state of air travel, talk about how different carriers are approaching air travel during COVID-19 when it comes to flight bookings, cleaning policies and passenger safety requirements to prevent the spread of the virus.

Guests:

Leslie Josephs, airline reporter for CNBC; she tweets @lesliejosephs

Charlie Leocha, president and co-founder of the consumer travel group Travelers United