With the winding down of covid now that most people have been properly vaccinated, an increasing number of airlines are no longer requiring passengers to wear masks while flying. Some of the airlines that are no longer requiring it include:
British Airways started allowing customers to go without a mask if the destination they are flying to does not require them. The airline also requires masks on flights to destinations where they haven’t been able to “clarify the local restrictions.”
The UK-based airline will eliminate mask requirements on its aircraft on March 27 “on flights where masks are no longer legally required at both ends of the route.” For easyJet, that includes most UK domestic flights as well as flights between the UK and Denmark, Gibraltar, Iceland, and Hungary.
The Iceland-based airline made face masks optional on some flights on March 23, weeks after Iceland lifted all COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Masks are still mandatory on flights to and from Canada, the U.S., Germany, Paris, and Zurich. Masks are optional on all other European flights as well as flights within Iceland and to and from Greenland.
British airline Jet2 became the first carrier to drop mask requirements in March. Passengers are no longer required to wear masks in England or Northern Ireland, but passengers 6 years and older traveling in Scotland must still wear them.
The Dutch government eliminated the requirement to wear face masks on public transportation on March 23, but still requires face masks to be worn on airplanes and in airports. However, KLM has vowed to stop enforcing its mask policy, telling local news outlet RTL News it was “disappointing that the use of face masks during boarding and during the entire flight is still being considered by the Dutch government, while this has been abandoned everywhere in the Netherlands.”
Swedish airline SAS has dropped mask requirements on domestic flights as well as flights within Scandinavia, but requires them for passengers 6 and older on all other flights. For flights that require a mask, homemade masks, and cloth masks are not accepted.
Current mask policy: British carrier TUI allows travelers to ditch their masks. But the airline still requires them for travelers 12 and older if they are flying to or from Wales or Scotland. Passengers 2 and older must also wear a face-covering if they are traveling to the U.S., and travelers 6 and older must wear one if they are traveling to Italy.
Virgin Atlantic changed its mask policy on March 16, allowing customers to choose if they wear a face covering, including on flights to Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. Masks must still be worn on the airline’s flights to or from the U.S. as well as for passengers 12 and older on flights to and from Delhi, Islamabad, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lahore, Lagos, Mumbai, Shanghai, and Tel Aviv.
Low-cost carrier Norwegian has become the latest airline to lift its inflight face mask mandate on all flights. The Oslo-based carrier said in a statement on Friday that it was the first time since June 2020 that passengers could choose not to wear a face mask on board any of its flights, regardless of the destination.
Although Norwegian was one of the very first airlines in the world to ease face mask rules last Autumn on domestic and Scandinavian routes, the airline kept the mask mandate in place for flights to other European destinations.
Meanwhile, in Russia, hackers have allegedly managed to break into the computer system of Russia’s aviation regulator and deleted every single record held by the agency. The cyberattack is believed to have been orchestrated by the hacktivist group Anonymous who declared a cyberwar on Russia after President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine.
In all, around 65 terabytes of data have been permanently deleted – a single terabyte would be the equivalent of around 75 million pages. The lost, and possibly unrecoverable data, includes a trove of documents, as well as aircraft registration documents and email.
The website of Russian aviation regulator Rosaviatsia went down on Monday but the cyberattack is believed to have started on Saturday when documents started to be deleted. Sources claim much of the data was never backed up due to a lack of government funds.