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British Airways REINSTATES face masks – and won’t say why

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Plot twist. According to reports, British Airways has had a last-minute change of heart and not removed the requirement to wear face masks.

The plan was to remove the requirement to wear masks, except for destinations where it is required by law, from today.

Heathrow Airport and Virgin Atlantic were also removing mask mandates from today.

British Airways backtracks on removal of face masks

It isn’t clear what is happening. Flyertalk posts from crew claim there are ‘compliance issues’ with removing the requirement for masks but the airline is not disclosing what these are.

All references to the removal of masks have disappeared from the BA website. The covid guidance pages still say that a mask is compulsory on all flights:

“Although UK rules are easing, here at British Airways like other airlines and airports, wearing face masks is still our policy. We’ll need you to wear a face mask in the airport and on board unless you are exempt. We have this policy to protect our most vulnerable customers and abide by the laws of countries around the world.

As a guide, a face mask could last up to four hours, so please make sure you bring enough for the duration of your trip. You will be asked to remove your mask for any passport checks, but you’ll be advised when to do so by our colleagues.

When you’re on board, you’re allowed to remove your face mask for a reasonable time to enable you to eat or drink. When you’re not consuming food or drink, your face mask must be placed back on and must cover your nose and mouth at all times.

British Airways reinstating face masks

What is going on?

It’s not clear.

BA is claiming on Twitter that nothing has changed despite what passengers are being told, despite what BA staff are saying in our own comments section below and despite the website changes:

The move to retain face coverings on public transport in Scotland for a further period – these were meant to have been scrapped next week – has obviously caused issues for passengers on flights to Scotland.

It is possible that it is linked to passengers connecting in London. Do passengers flying to some countries have to wear a mask for their entire trip? Perhaps the whole aircraft must be masked if one person is connecting? There are reports of passengers being told that a decision on masks can only be taken after boarding. If this is true, however, why has SAS not been impacted after dropping masks?

Whatever the issue is, it has not impacted Jet2, Tui or Virgin Atlantic which have already removed the requirement to wear face masks.

More if we get it. For now, you better keep that mask to hand, even though you won’t need it at Heathrow or Gatwick in the airport.


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Comments (237)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Crackers says:


  • marcw says:

    Virgin has only removed compulsory face mask to-from Caribbean. All other routes, still compulsory.

    • Rob says:

      That was always the case though, as the US doesn’t allow it. Jet2 and Tui are also keeping masks for Germany etc.

    • Graeme says:

      It’s a twist of old-school M. Night Shyamalan proportions!

  • John T says:

    Lord this is going to be trouble. Imagine the arguments between crew and passengers: ‘but I booked BA because I didn’t have to wear a mask’.

    Surely crew just won’t bother enforcing it?

    • meta says:

      They were very rarely enforcing it anyway even in the height of pandemic when there were no vaccines!

    • Sip says:

      I’ve got to say…might be just luck, but the flights I’ve been on via BA for the last 8 months of so, staff have been excellent in pointing out mask over nose.
      Staff were excellent overall as well.

      • CatchFlightsNotFeelings says:

        See I’ve had the opposite experience. I found BA was always the most relaxed airline about masks, esp compared to the budget airlines like easyjet and ryanair. Even more so in Premium and Club.

    • Paul says:

      Not being enforced now.

      Further evidence, if it was required, that this is a business in chaos. Operationally, administratively and in their communications.

      It’s just B Awful

    • PhilS says:

      I booked BA flight because I thought they were covid safe(r). On outward flight everyone around me had their masks on.

  • Jess says:

    Now for a U-turn on their awful decision re avios devaluation….

  • David Cliff says:

    Another BA fiasco !! 🙄🙄

  • CatchFlightsNotFeelings says:

    It would be hard for them to remove masks and then backtrack and then remove them again in the future, given the widespread media of the rule ending. It was one of the top stories on the daily mail (like them or loathe them – thats a big percentage of the population seeing it) as well as ITV news yesterday. To go back and fourth would be an embarrassing shambles.

    • Rob says:

      You’re showing your age.

      The Daily Mail only sells 900,000 copies per day these days, so under 2% of the UK adult population.

      • John T says:

        No one under 50 buys newspapers. They get their news online only. DM articles often receive thousands of comments online.

      • Nick says:

        He’s right though – the Daily Mail has over 4m daily readers online, hitting over half the UK adult population in an average month according to Ipsos Iris data, with half a billion page views per month. It’s one of the leading UK news sources.

        • John says:

          How much of that traffic is bots and trolls going directly to comments? Fifty percent would seem about right based on content.

          • CarpalTravel says:

            And if you read some of them, a lot seem like they are USA/Canada based.

        • Vinz says:

          I know. My colleague is always on their bloody website. I think they should make that a valid, legal excuse to fire somebody.

        • jjoohhnn says:

          I take offence to the word ‘news’ in your comment.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        You’re showing yours if you’re counting views by papers sold … also the average physical copy of a paper is probably read by 3/4 people ..

      • CatchFlightsNotFeelings says:

        Your showing your age by assuming when I say Daily Mail that i mean the newspaper :p Daily Mail or Mail Online, whatever you want to call them, is often listed as the top 20 visited websites, often ahead of twitter, NHS etc.

      • Cranzle says:

        Daily Mail’s website is one of the most visited in the world.

      • Mike says:

        If the Daily Mail is small beer, what’s The Guardian down at ~ number 20 in daily circulation?

        • Londonsteve says:

          I visit the Guardian online 3 times a day for news. In the last 12 months I think I ended up on Mail Online perhaps 3 times in total over that entire period and only because someone sent me a link. There’s nothing conscious about that outcome. The Guardian is not behind a paywall and chock of full of intelligent reporting and analysis. Mail Online is a advert heavy barrage of articles, more than 50% of which are Daily Star-grade. Great site for looking at celebs snapped by paparazzi while on the beach. For actual news? I’m deeply underwhelmed.

          • Mike says:

            @Londonsteve what you have there is what we call an anecdote, the Guardian has a tiny readership in paper form and quite frankly survives on past glories and the money it got from selling Autotrader (and keeping the money in a tax haven). The fact that Aurotrader’s value promptly tripled shows how incompetent the management of the Guardian is, as well as being hypocritical.

          • Rob says:

            The Guardian has properly transitioned to an online newspaper with far more global influence than it ever had when it sold 300,000 UK print copies.

            The online Mail is massively successful but bears no relation to the print newspaper, with 90% of readership – the bulk in the US – reading the celebrity coverage.

            What’s interesting about the Mail is that it publishes page views and ad revenue so you can work out pence earned per view. Last time I checked we were 5x higher despite having 80% fewer ads.

          • Mike says:

            The Guardian just panders woke left wing nonsense to an ever decreasing London centric readership

          • Brian P says:

            The Guardian according to media bias fact check is “unreliable” and frequently misleads. I can give you multiple examples. I’m not telling you not to read it, just don’t automatically believe it!

          • illuminatus says:

            ‘The Guardian is … chock of full of intelligent reporting and analysis’ – OMG, this MUST be sarcasm!

      • Mikeact says:

        With way over a million on line apparently.

  • Babyg says:

    DISTRACT DISTRACT – This is simply to distract from the taxes/fees uplift for avios flights..

    • meta says:

      You live in a bubble. Most people outside this community don’t care about surcharges on redemptions.

      • Babyg says:

        I have a huge mask.. it covers my eyes too…

      • Rui N. says:

        Indeed. Most people won’t have enough avios for a redemption on Club World in any case. From those who do, either this will be their first time (and they’ll be flabbergastered how much a “free flight” costs), or they haven’t booked such a flight in so long that they have no idea how much it used to cost.

  • Matt says:

    Considering the strength of debate on this subject yesterday this could turn out to be interesting…!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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