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Travel Why Allegiant should correct its peculiar face covering policy

23:15  25 august  2020
23:15  25 august  2020 Source:   thepointsguy.com

11 major US airlines have new pandemic rules for keeping passengers safe, but some are doing more than others. Here's how they compare.

  11 major US airlines have new pandemic rules for keeping passengers safe, but some are doing more than others. Here's how they compare. Flyers must now consider additional health and safety when choosing an airline to fly with, and each US airline has a different policy.Each of the country's major airlines has taken a different approach to reconcile ways of increasing revenue with peace of mind for flyers. Travelers also are now factoring in health and safety when booking a flight, a decision that needed never weigh heavily on the minds of many prior to this pandemic.

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a tarmac © Provided by The Points Guy
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One of the best ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is by wearing a mask.

That’s why we’ve seen every major U.S. airline introduce mask requirements. If you’re planning to fly during the pandemic, you’ll need to keep your face covered from the beginning to the end of your travel journey.

Comparing inflight service on Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit in the age of coronavirus

  Comparing inflight service on Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit in the age of coronavirus Flying during the age of the global pandemic isn’t going to resemble what it looked like before March of this year. Almost every airline around the world now requires face coverings to be worn inflight. Many U.S. airlines are proactively blocking middle seats, and some are even capping the capacity of their planes to promote …Almost every airline around the world now requires face coverings to be worn inflight. Many U.S. airlines are proactively blocking middle seats, and some are even capping the capacity of their planes to promote safety and social distancing.

Though every carrier has a mask requirement, the details differ based on the airline. Absent a federally mandated mask requirement, airlines are free to create their own exemptions and exclusions.

Over the past few weeks and months, most airlines have matched — and frequently outdone — each other’s policies. But there’s one airline whose policy is at odds with CDC guidelines, and that’s Allegiant Air.

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Allegiant requires all passengers to wear face masks during all phases of travel. The only exemption is for children under the age of two, as well as passengers with documented disabilities or medical conditions. Allegiant threatens to bar travelers from travel should they choose not to wear a face covering.

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a woman sitting on the seat of a car: Allegiant COVID-19 clean kit. (Photo courtesy of Allegiant Air) © The Points Guy Allegiant COVID-19 clean kit. (Photo courtesy of Allegiant Air)

On the surface, this complies with the latest CDC guidance. However, there’s a giant loophole.

Per Allegiant’s policy, you are allowed to wear a face shield instead of a mask. This was confirmed by an airline spokesperson and appears on the carrier’s website.

This means that you can satisfy the mask requirement with a shield that’s much less effective at preventing the spread of the virus. According to the CDC,

A face shield is primarily used for eye protection for the person wearing it. At this time, it is not known what level of protection a face shield provides to people nearby from the spray of respiratory droplets from the wearer. There is currently not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of face shields for source control. Therefore, CDC does not currently recommend use of face shields as a substitute for masks.

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  Alaska Airlines makes bigger play for Los Angeles with 8 new routes from LAX There are big competitive changes coming to Los Angeles International Airport this fall, and everyone seemingly wants in on the action. Alaska Airlines plans to fly 35 routes from Los Angeles (LAX) — its most ever — by the year’s end. That will come after eight new routes that will launch between September and December, …Alaska Airlines plans to fly 35 routes from Los Angeles (LAX) — its most ever — by the year’s end. That will come after eight new routes that will launch between September and December, the Seattle-based carrier said Thursday. The additions range from Eugene (EUG) and Medford (MFR) in Oregon to Kona (KOA) and Lihue (LIH) in Hawaii, and Tampa (TPA) in Florida.

As such, Allegiant’s policy of allowing you to wear a face shield instead of a mask contradicts the CDC guidance. We reached out to Allegiant to understand how their policy makes sense relative to the guidelines and will update this story when we hear back. An airline spokesperson did let us know that it is rare to see passengers using face shields.

Related: TPG’s 9 favorite face masks and where to buy them

Allegiant’s policy is even at odds with those of the airports it operates from. At its hub in Las Vegas, travelers must wear a mask throughout the terminal, according to Directive 024 by the Nevada Medical Advisory Team. Only those who have medical conditions or disabilities that prevent them from wearing masks can substitute a face shield. Otherwise, “medical advisors recommend face shields be accompanied by cloth face coverings, where medically possible.”

a person wearing a hat: Face shield and face mask (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Face shield and face mask (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

In my experience, face shields have recently increased in popularity. TPG’s Summer Hull wore both a mask and a face shield on her recent flights, and I noticed many passengers doing the same on my trip last week to California and during recent visits to LaGuardia Airport. Doubling up certainly doesn’t hurt you, but just wearing a face shield isn’t what health officials recommend.

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  Looking for face shields? Medical experts recommend the best options. Medical experts also recommend what to look for when shopping for face shields from top retailers including Polaoid, Shopbop and Vistaprint.Editor’s note: As we will report below, experts agree that face shields — and face masks — do not replace or relieve the need to wash your hands and social distance, and they absolutely do not alone prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Allegiant is the only major U.S. airline to allow face shields instead of masks. Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United all require a face covering that fits snugly over the nose and mouth. Face shields are optional and can be worn in addition to a suitable mask.

Related: The US airline that now has the strictest mask policy may surprise you

With that, Allegiant’s policy seems lax compared to its ultra-low-cost carrier peers. Both Frontier and Spirit have some of the strictest mask policies in the country. Neither allow medical exceptions and have a list of exclusions to accepted face coverings.

Enforcing the mask policy is another issue in and of itself. Flight attendants are already busy with other responsibilities and gate agents can only monitor what mask a passenger wears while boarding. Though it may be hard for a flight attendant to police the mask requirement during flight, it shouldn’t be too much work for the crew to walk around the plane and spot passengers not wearing any mask.

Hopefully, Allegiant works quickly to remove the face shield loophole and get its face-covering policy in line with CDC recommendations.

Featured photo courtesy of Allegiant

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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