Flying is rife with uncertainty after a federal judge threw out a federal mask mandate for airline passengers, only to have the federal government decide to appeal the ruling.
Hesitant fliers seeking to cancel travel plans and get a refund won’t get much more clarity.
If flying without a mask mandate makes you nervous, some airlines will offer you a refund. Others won’t give you a break unless you have a refundable ticket, and some carriers say they will deal with refund demands on a case-by-case basis.
The federal mask mandate that was adopted last year was set to expire May 3. But when a federal judge in Florida voided the rule Monday, many airlines, airports and car-hailing services such as Uber quickly lifted the mask regulation, making mask-wearing optional.
United Airlines Chief Executive Scott Kirby told the “Today” show Thursday that his carrier will be flexible with passengers who refuse to fly and demand a refund on a nonrefundable ticket.
“For customers like that, that are immunocompromised or that have other concerns or issues, we are working with those customers if they don’t want to fly,” he said.
United Airlines spokesperson Josh Freed clarified in an email that passengers who have “special circumstances” should call the customer service phone number. “We’ll work with them to find the best solution for them,” Freed said.
American Airlines offers refunds to some mileage reward club members and travelers who purchase refundable tickets. But fliers who book the cheapest seats — basic economy — won’t get a refund simply because they don’t feel comfortable sitting next to an unmasked passenger.
An Alaska Airlines spokesperson said the Seattle carrier would “work with guests on a case-by-case basis if they’re not comfortable flying.”
At Southwest Airlines, the refund policy has not changed: Passengers can cancel flights even with nonrefundable tickets and use the value of those tickets toward the purchase of future flights without paying fees.
A Delta Air Lines representative could not be reached for comment.
On Twitter, the nation’s biggest carriers were slammed with questions from passengers who said flying without a mask mandate is too risky.
This article originally appeared in the LA Times