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Facemaskgate: BA isn’t sure which countries require one, so until they work it out ….

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The British Airways face mask saga continues, and if anything it gets weirder.

On Monday, British Airways announced that face masks would not be required from Wednesday except where required by law.

Just before the policy was about to go live, British Airways withdrew their guidance. Crew were told to ensure that mask wearing continued and all references to the new policy were withdrawn from – although they remained prominent on social media.

British Airways face mask policy

During Thursday, British Airways published a new policy on

“The legal requirement to wear a face covering has now been removed in England and Wales and we have updated our face mask policy.

Customers are no longer required to wear a mask at some airports in England.

However, as an international airline flying all around the world, we are obliged to ensure our customers continue to comply with local restrictions and meet the requirements of the destination they arrive at.

Therefore, we ask you to check the requirements of the destination you’re flying to before departing for the airport, as:

  • If you are travelling on our flights, you will be required to wear a mask on board if the destination you are flying to or from requires you to
  • If you are travelling on our flights, you will be required to wear a mask to disembark the aircraft, and at your arrival airport, if the destination you are flying to requires it

Where we are unsure or have not been able to clarify the local restrictions, we will still require you to wear face coverings, and we ask that you continue to carry masks with you for the duration of your journey.

For destinations where we have established that the wearing of a face covering is not mandated, you are able to make a personal choice and we kindly request everyone respects each other’s preferences.”

It sounds odd, but it seems that British Airways is unable to find out which countries require a face mask and which don’t. Where there is no certainty, a mask will still be required.

This makes some sense, of course. Regulation is a difficult and complex area.

What doesn’t make sense ….

What doesn’t make sense is that we have reports of, for example, passengers being told to wear masks on Heathrow to Manchester domestic services and others being told that the mask requirement will not be decided until after boarding.

It also isn’t clear why BA isn’t willing to publish a list of destinations where it is requiring masks.

Meanwhile, a BA CityFlyer employee working out of London City Airport posted on Flyertalk on Thursday afternoon that:

“Latest crew guidance is that masks are not required for domestic flights within England and Northern Ireland, and to/from Ireland. Still required for other destinations, in both directions.

I get a feeling that this saga will continue until at least 18th April, which is the date at which the US is expected to remove the mask requirement for airline passengers.


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Comments (63)

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

  • Dev says:

    So Kenya (BA65 is to Nairobi) has dropped the mask requirement but only in well ventilated areas. Guidance from Governments can be a minefield. Does aircraft HEPA filters and the fact that the entire air in an aircraft is replaced with new outside air every couple of minutes count as well ventilated?

    So my understanding is that a mask is required for BA65 to Nairobi, but no mask on BA64 to London.

    (I live in Kenya hence using BA64/65 as an example).

  • Tical says:

    No masks until the doors closed on flight to Athens (BA640) yesterday but then announcement for everyone to put masks on. As typical, there were many American tourists on the flight and the announcement caused confusion as everyone was led to believe no masks were required

  • Rebecca says:

    I do have some sympathy, though it seems bizarre that they didn’t think of it before making the original (non-)announcement. Some federal countries have different rules in different states, potentially changing at different times, so it’s not as straightforward as it might seem. Couldn’t they just ask outstation staff to confirm the current rules in their local jurisdiction?

    • Rhys says:

      That sounds far too sensible!

      • Sunguy says:

        Problem is that the VAST majority of outstation staff are now just a few folks from someone like Menzies who have about 3 or 4 airline uniforms depending on the airline they are working on at that point in time…..(i.e. apart from branding – they have no real contact with BA).

        But, Im sure BA have country “directors” who should be able to gather the information for the countries they are dealing with – they “should” know their patch and “should” know how it works…..

        This – of course – is theory, but as Rhys says, way too sensible for BA to comprehend.

        • CatchFlightsNotFeelings says:

          Im in my industry we also need to know about mask mandates, restrictions ect in over 50 territories in order for us to operate. I collect all this data and have done for 2 years. It really isn’t hard or time consuming. And like you said, we have people on the ground in each country to share when the rules are about to change, and when they have officially changed. It’s no different to BA having to keep track of the requirements of testing for each country in order to verify documents to allow passengers to board, so not sure why they find it so hard to collect this information also.

  • The Original Nick says:

    No announcement requiring passengers to wear a mask at the gate or onboard. Crew have masks on but they’ve only just put them on as I was boarding. I was the 6th passenger to board. Seems that its optional.

  • aseftel says:

    I’m more disheartened by the terrible standard of written English in the policy. Communicating simply and clearly should be a core competency if many of your customers speak English as a second language.

    • Nick says:

      Sadly, increasingly lacking in so many people today, who are more used to using ‘text speak’.

    • Paul says:

      probably outsource to India, like their IT

      • NorthernLass says:

        There are many educated Indians who speak better English than those for whom it is supposed to be the first language!

        • Sunguy says:

          Maybe – but they are all in the US or here in the UK pretty much……

          I spent 7 -yes 7 hours trying to get a very, very basic question answered by NatWest chat service – and I still didnt actually get a real answer – they couldnt understand the question…..(it was as complex as – I got a letter telling me you are re-issuing my card – when will I get it…..)…

  • supergraeme says:

    Masks all round on LHR-BLQ right now.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Sounds right as France has a public transport mask mandate.

      • bafan says:

        Or Italy infact…😉

        • TGLoyalty says:

          The funniest thing is I put Spain then decided it said BIQ 😂

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Ie BIO. So I was wrong on all accounts

            If only going to these airports was as easy in reality than in my head.

  • Polly says:

    Masks on all pax to Dublin yesterday evening..reinforced by several announcements from a very stern FA…

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Is that because BA or Ireland mandate it or because the FA wants that?

      Personally I think it’ll be a rough few days /weeks while everyone works it out

  • Jan Erik Sorensen says:

    BA819 CPH -> LHR Wed 16th – No mask requirement.
    BA662 LHR -> LCA Thur 17th – Mask back on. Questioned crew and was told that Cypriot Government required it. Asked for vaccination proof after landing in LCA. Nothing else.

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