2021 has seen many aspects of travelling get more uncomfortable. Now, some airlines, arguably for good reason, are adding yet another rule into the mix.
Some airlines are getting stricter about the type of masks passengers wear in flight.
Among some carriers, strictness has already been increased, with fabric face masks being recently deemed Not Good Enough and with a preference for surgical-grade masks now being shown.
Finnair is one such airline, announcing an update to its mask policy on August the 13th, saying it would no longer be allowing cloth face masks onboard from the 16th of August.
“Starting 16 August, we will no longer accept fabric masks on our flights,” the airline wrote. “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.”
The mask needs to continuously cover your nose and mouth. You can only remove it for a limited time while you’re eating or drinking. Please make sure you always wear a mask when interacting with Finnair employees, whether it’s at the airport or onboard.
— Finnair (@Finnair) August 13, 2021
The airline said on its website that fabric masks “allow air to escape and do not provide comparable protection.”
Fox Business reports that other international airlines that have surgical mask policies include Air France, Swissair, Croatia Airlines, Germany’s Lufthansa and Chile’s LATAM Airlines.
“Airlines that have shown a preference for surgical-grade masks have cited research that states surgical masks filter small particles better than fabric-made masks,” Fox Business reports.
“In the U.S., however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that cloth and non-surgical-grade face masks are suitable options so long as it has multiple layers and is free of exhaust valves or vents,” (Fox Business).
“Additional mask features the health agency says Americans should keep an eye out for include an adjustable nose wire, correctly-sized or adjustable ear loops and be opaque when held up to a light source (to help determine whether it has enough layers).”
In the comments section of Australian news website news.com.au’s reporting of Finnair’s fabric mask ban, users shared their thoughts.
One user, JudyZ, said not all fabric masks are made equal, writing: “I can understand in some respects, because I’ve seen some people with masks that are only one piece of fabric. The ones I make are 2 layers of 1,000 count cotton, plus a third layer, & the elastic goes completely around the back of my head.”
Another user, ‘Bill,’ who apparently very much rejects the idea that something is better than nothing, wrote: “The ‘flying is safe’ fable continues. You must wear a mask and keep 1.5m apart in the airport but when on the plane, you are cheek by jowl with someone. You can also remove your mask to eat and drink and nothing will escape, trust us. It’s amazing how an industry, airlines, and those that want to use the service can convince themselves that all the covid taboos are not applicable to flying. The power of bullsh*t.”
Another user, ‘Matt’ opined: “I feel that if it is mandatory to have two Covid-19 vaccines (either Pfizer, AZ, Moderna etc) to fly on planes, get inside the airports around the world, if this is the case I really don’t see the need to wear face masks on planes or inside airports. So basically there will not be a single person on any plane in many parts of the world, depending on where this rule gets enforced and sounds like its going to be mandatory in many parts of the world, no one will be unvaccinated. So everyone [sic] aught to feel safe flying on planes in the future.”
One Twitter user wrote: “Safety is in fashion.”
That’s a sentiment we, grudgingly, can get behind.
Though many aspects of life have become more irritating in the last year or two thanks to the global pandemic, as we discussed the other day, particularly here in Australia, we all need to do what we can and suck up the inconveniences, with the goal of getting to 80% fully vaccinated almost upon us.
Then we can start getting back to normal, travelling internationally and getting involved in airline mask debates (with it actually having some bearing on our life) like the rest of the world…