A growing number of airlines are banning cloth face coverings in favour of higher-grade masks.
Finnair became the latest airline to ban fabric face coverings. From 16 August, all passengers must wear either a surgical mask, FFP2/3 respirator masks or any KN95/N95-standard mask.
Starting 16 August, we will no longer accept fabric masks on our flights. We accept surgical masks, FFP2 or FFP3 respirator masks without a valve or other valve free masks with the same standard (N95). Please remember you need to wear a mask throughout the entire journey. pic.twitter.com/Am4SxtT1G3
— Finnair (@Finnair) August 13, 2021
Lufthansa and Swissair have had the ban in place since 1 February.
Other European airlines, including Air France and Croatia Airlines, also prohibit cloth masks, with Air France’s website making it clear that “for the health and safety of all, the wearing of a surgical mask is mandatory from the moment you arrive at the airport and throughout your Air France flight.”
Neither Aer Lingus nor Ryanair explicitly prohibit cloth masks.
In the USA
On 19 August the United States extended its mask mandate for all flights until 18 January at the earliest. It was scheduled to expire on 13 September.
However, the issue of masks is especially contentious in the U.S., with the TSA reporting an increase of air rage incidents of which 74 per cent were connected to the wearing of masks.
Although all airlines are obliged by the federally mandated mandated on face coverings, they are unlikely to introduce a ban on cloth masks for the time being and would most likely rely on the federal government to do so.