On April 18, 2022, a federal judge in Florida ruled that U.S. health agencies, like the CDC, do not have the authority to impose a national mask mandate on transportation. Airlines and local public transit authorities swiftly moved to lift their individually imposed mask mandates.
Now, in most cases, passengers traveling through airports and airplanes will not be asked to wear masks. Passengers are still welcomed and encouraged to wear this protective equipment, but you will no longer get in trouble for not adhering to the mandate. All major U.S. airlines, including American, Delta, United, and Southwest, have moved to a mask-optional policy. Tran and bus networks, as well as ridesharing services, have also mostly become mask optional.
Keep in mind that a number of international airlines, including Air France, Lufthansa, Japan Airlines, and South African Airlines, still require passengers to remain masked when not actively eating or drinking.
While the transportation mask mandate is currently not in effect, on April 19, the Department of Justice announced that it plans to appeal the decision. This means the mask mandate may be reinstated.
This doesn’t mean much for passengers traveling with a furry friend. However, passengers should be aware of so-called “danger areas” when flying, whether Fido comes along or stays at home. These spots are locations during a trip when contracting a case of COVID-19 is most likely. According to NPR, this includes security lines, airport cafeterias, while the plane is taxiing or sitting on the runway, and while boarding/unloading the plane.