With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions across the world, travellers are asking if they still need to wear a mask on flights from the likes of easyJet, Ryanair, Jet2, BA and many others flying from the UK - and will scarves, snoods and other types of face coverings be accepted on planes when needed? Here we look at what these individual airlines say on the subject of masks.
Do passengers still need to wear a mask on planes? Find out here (Credit: Pxhere)
With Covid numbers increasing as new strains appear, we look at what top airlines flying to and from the UK say about the need to wear a mask.
Please note - information correct at time of original publication.
Was the requirement to wear face masks on planes scrapped on 16 May 2022?
Wearing of face masks in airports and on European flights is "no longer recommended", the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has announced.
The change, which was announced by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and ECDC, and came into force on 16 May.
However, there are some airlines and countries with different rules covering the use of face masks. Here we take a look at what the airlines say in January 2023.
Can I use a scarf, snood, or visor as a mask on planes?
Many people like to use scarves, snoods, cloth masks or visors rather than masks, but these are not accepted by most airlines when a face covering is required. This is often down to national rules beyond their control. Additionally, masks with valves are not accepted on routes into certain countries.
Check your airline, below, to see what it says about acceptable types of masks.
Do I have to wear a mask on a plane if I'm exempt?
Airlines ill not force you to wear a mask - where one is required - if you are exempt, however, you will need to provide documentation to prove this is the case and they are allowed to demand proof. Failure to wear a mask and prove exemption could result in you not being able to board the flight.
Do children need to wear a mask?
Young children are often exempt from wearing a mask, but the minimum age can be anything from 2 years old right up to 12. Check the individual airlines for the age at which children must start wearing a mask.
What the airlines say about wearing masks on planes - updated January 2023
The airline’s advice page states that 'Face masks are optional on flights between Ireland and certain countries'. These include most of Europe and its transatlantic flights.
However, mask must be worn on flights between Ireland and Austria and Spain. If travelling to Austria, a
FFP2 mask will be required.
(Note: If you are travelling to/from Austria, you are required to wear an "FFP2" type face mask.)
Younger children who cannot keep a face covering on without assistance are exempt.
Air New Zealand
Updated advice on the Air New Zealand page says the use of face masks is optional, but you can still choose to wear your own mask, and masks will continue to be provided by the airline. However, some international flights may still have mandatory mask requirements based on the destination's regulations.
American Airlines states: ‘The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend that people wear a face mask in indoor public transportation settings, but they aren’t required to be worn in airport settings or on your flight unless an individual jurisdiction has these requirements.’
British Airways includes a table of destinations, which shows if passengers will need to wear a mask on planes flying to them. The list is as follows and was correct at the time of writing in January 2023.
|Country||Mask on board - to destination||Mask on board - to the UK||Mask in terminal|
|Hong Kong, China||No||No||Yes|
Cathay Pacific requires all passenger aged 2 and over to wear face masks while boarding, during the flight and when disembarking the aircraft. Passenger must supply their own mask – and these must not have valves or vents. This advice remains on the company website as of January 2023.
The need to wear a mask on easyJet planes largely depends on where you’re travelling.
If travelling to Spain, all passengers aged 6 and over must bring a suitable face mask with them and wear them while on the plane (scarves, visors or masks with valves are not acceptable). You may be legally required to wear a mask when you disembark the aircraft or when using airport transport e.g. shuttle busses
There is no need to wear a mask for passengers travelling on other routes not heading to or from Spain. However, passengers are free to do so should they wish to.
The Emirates website, says: "Wearing a face mask is optional in the UAE and on Emirates flights. If you are travelling from or transiting through Dubai International, the mask rules of your destination will apply throughout your journey."
It’s no longer a legal requirement to wear a face mask at UK airports or onboard Jet2 aircraft. However, as per UK Government guidance, the airline says it recommends passengers continue to wear a face mask in these location, and "it’s likely you’ll need to wear one when you get to your overseas destination".
Jet2 also says it is likely that passengers will need to put on a mask when taking transfers to their acccommodation.
Ryanair no longer require passengers to wear a face mask onboard most of its services. There are a few exceptions - such as flights to Spain - where a mask is still required.
Ryanair recommends that passengers check the latest Covid-19 restrictions and requirements of their destination/arrival countries ahead of travel in case of any changes.
Ryanair says there is no legal requirement to wear a mask on its flights to and from the UK. However, the airline does recommend they are worn while on board. Masks may be required when leaving the aircraft at your overseas destination, so have some handy that fit in with local requirements – i.e medical-style masks without valves.
It is, however, mandatory for all travellers aged 6 and over travelling to Spain.
Virgin states that wearing masks is a personal decision on services to or from the USA, Pakistan, Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, The Bahamas, Jamaica, St Vincent & The Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago and Tel Aviv.
However, for services operating to or from the UK, masks must still be worn for customers aged 12 and above until further notice on the following routes: Delhi, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lagos, Mumbai and Shanghai.
Wizz Air says: "It is compulsory to wear a face mask during your WIZZ flight when travelling to or from a country where it is still mandated by the local law. When neither departure nor destination country requires it, wearing a mask is subject to personal choice. For flights over 4 hours, we recommend you bring more face masks." You can check the status of your destination and Covid-related entry requirements here.
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Author: Pete Barden:
Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (thesun.co.uk), New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? (Whatcar.com) Stuff Magazine (Stuff.tv), Fastcar Magazine (Fastcar.co.uk), Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.