Flight Attendants Welcome Lifting Of Mask Mandates

Flight attendant and passenger with protective face masks
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News & Politics
Damir Mujezinovic

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle last week struck down the Biden administration's mask mandate for airplanes and transit.

Mizelle said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- which extended the mandate amid a nationwide surge of coronavirus cases -- does not have the power to detain and release travelers.

The airline industry welcomed the news, but how do flight attendants feel about the judge's ruling?

Flight Attendants Speak Out

Flight attendant Sharmy Aldama told The Washington Post that getting passengers to wear face masks was stressful and, more often than not, a real struggle.

"I definitely got to a point where I was showing up to work ready to be argued with and bickered with and having to defend myself," Aldama said, adding that she was relieved when Mizelle ended the mandate.

"Being able to just show up [to work] and give people what they need and not have to be on guard all the time has been so refreshing," the flight attendant explained.

Aldama noted, however, that she still puts on a mask sometimes, especially if one of the passengers is coughing or seems sick.


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Flight attendant and passengers with masks
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Las Vegas-based flight attendant Christa Gifford said she is glad the rule is no longer in place, but stressed that she still worries about her health and safety.

"I hope I don’t get sick, I have places to go. … And then I think about my co-workers, and how easily we could spread it. We already have a staffing shortage, and so something like this could potentially make that even worse," said Glifford, who is president of Transport Workers Union of America Local 577.

'We Were So Happy'

American Airlines flight attendant Kim said her "entire crew was ecstatic" when they heard the news.

"I mean, we were taking pictures. We were so happy," Kim continued, describing the change as "exhilarating."

"The first few days I was flying without a mask, it felt weird; at the same time I was happy and excited about it. It felt strange, because it’s like, our face has been covered for two years. But this week has been different, where it’s like, I hardly think about it anymore."

Ending Mask Mandates

Some experts criticized Judge Mizelle's decision, according to Yahoo Finance.

Dr. Zeke Emanuel, vice provost of global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, described it as "incoherent."

Global health law professor at Georgetown Law Lawrence Gostin and civil rights attorney Duncan Hosie argued in an op-ed that the ruling could prevent the government from effectively handling future pandemics.

Per Yahoo Finance, mask mandates have largely been kept in place around the world.