These airlines are already beginning to scrap masks on flights

British carriers Jet2 and Tui have already binned them in line with local government guidance

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham
News Editor, Time Out UK and Time Out London
Air steward with mask
Photograph: Sopotnicki /

In the latest move that signals the travel industry is looking to leave the pandemic very much behind it, some airlines are now starting to get rid of their mask mandates. Normality, it seems, has very much returned.

In fact, British airlines Jet2 and Tui, mostly known for their package holidays, have already dropped the requirement for passengers to wear masks. The new (lack of) rules applies to travellers from England and Northern Ireland, in line with local government guidance that also does not mandate mask-wearing. 

Ryanair has similarly announced plans to drop mask-wearing rules on its planes. The budget airline’s CEO Michael O’Leary has said he hopes face coverings will be scrapped on its flights by the end of April. British AirwaysVirgin Atlantic and EasyJet have all announced that they will also be revising their mask policies for some routes. Just this week, BA and Virgin have both said that masks will no longer be compulsory for flights between the UK and USA.

All of which is a refreshing (or slightly worrying, depending on your view) return to normality. During the worst bits of the pandemic, mask-wearing in the air kind of made sense. You were trapped in a box tens of thousands of feet in the air, with pretty much the same lot of air swirling around for hours on end. Masks were there to stop everyone from making each other ill. 

It’s worth noting that the relaxing of mask requirements on flights does not apply to every airline in every destination. It currently only applies to certain flights departing from England and Northern Ireland. Flights from Scotland still require passengers to wear masks, as do most other flights from UK airlines. And of course, while you might not have to wear a mask on the flight, plenty of destinations still require mask-wearing in public places like airports. 

So when could masks on planes be completely done for? Well, some experts have said that they could remain on some airlines for years, due to differences in mask rules in certain countries. In other words: don’t get your hopes up for a wholesale abandoning of face coverings just yet.

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