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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.

  • Joshua Critchley says:

    Only BA could mismanage this so badly.
    What a total screw up.
    There’s a picture here building of a totally incompetent company. Can’t manage this, can run an on time airline, can’t find enough staff, can’t run planes in bad weather, won’t answer the phone, abysmal catering and penny pinching, planes getting filthy again, and just incompetent and lack of experience everywhere you look.
    It’s like the last experienced people left and it’s now run by YTS interns.
    Meanwhile KLM abolishing masks.

    • CarpalTravel says:

      I think that is grossly unfair.

      I am pretty sure Barclaycard could too.


  • NorthernLass says:

    I’m ordering a party pack of Chupa Chups.

    • Spurs drive me mad says:

      Popcorn for me! I find these threads quite entertaining Anna, I wonder why half the people are reading a travel blog when they are to scared to live life and come out from behind their sofas.

      • CatchFlightsNotFeelings says:

        I love this comment! For a travelling community, people sure do want to make it a miserable experience for everyone!

  • David A says:

    Forcing people to wear masks on return legs to the UK is RIDICULOUS. What possible justification on the grounds of health can there be to force me to wear a mask next week from LAX to LHR, and then, when I step off the plane, take it off before mingling with hundreds of others entering the UK, all so that BA can avoid “confusing” people. What a farce, and what a farcical company BA has become – c.f. the Lord King days.

  • Joe says:

    This will cause serious economic damage to the airline unless they are jettisoned again.

    • Ian says:

      I doubt it. If there is a requirement to wear a mask 99.99% of people will wear a mask – just like they did on the EasyJet flight I was on today. Plenty of reputational damage though will such inept handling of it.

  • Dennis says:

    I am travelling to Antigua in exactly 5 weeks time, face masks there have been dropped to optional in public spaces! I have worn one for the last 2 years! Time to stop now and get back to normal!

  • WearyTraveller says:

    Had they not reinstated masks, would you have to wear them on the flight to a from Dubai?

  • Lula says:

    Well I for one am delighted. I recently invested in a Liberty print mask and couldn’t bear for that to go to waste Long live the pandemic.

    • John says:

      It was legal to wear a mask before anybody ever heard of SARS-CoV 2, and it will be legal to wear a mask even if nobody in the world is infected with it.

  • David Quinn says:

    It’s a robber’s mask they should be wearing after the increases to the fees and charges….

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

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