How Philadelphia-area mass transit, airlines are responding to latest mask ruling

On April 18, a federal judge struck down the mask mandate covering airlines and other public transportation.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022
How local mass transit, airlines are responding to mask ruling
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A federal judge's decision to strike down the national mask mandate covering airlines and other public transportation Monday is having a ripple effect across the Tri-State area.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A federal judge's decision to strike down the national mask mandate covering airlines and other public transportation Monday is having a ripple effect across the Tri-State area as agencies respond.

The ruling appeared to free operators to make their own decisions about mask requirements, with the several major airlines - American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United - all announcing they would drop mandates.

The Biden administration said the rule would not be enforced while federal agencies decide how to respond to the judge's order.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released this statement: "As a result of a court order, effective immediately and as of April 18, 2022, CDC's January 29, 2021 Order requiring masks on public transportation conveyances and at transportation hubs is no longer in effect. Therefore, CDC will not enforce the Order. CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time."

The Association of Flight Attendants, the nation's largest union of cabin crews, has recently taken a neutral position on the mask rule because its members are divided about the issue. On Monday, the union's president appealed for calm on planes and in airports.

"The last thing we need for workers on the frontlines or passengers traveling today is confusion and chaos," union leader Sara Nelson said.

The federal ruling also came on the same day Philadelphia reinstated its indoor mask policy.

Here's the latest list of transportation agencies in the Tri-State and where they stand in regards to Monday's ruling:


The transit agency released the following statement on its new policy:

"Effective immediately, masks are not required on SEPTA vehicles and in stations and concourses. This applies to both customers and employees in these spaces. Per CDC and TSA guidance, SEPTA continues to recommend masking on the system.

Additionally, please note: In accordance with the City of Philadelphia's mask mandate that went into effect today, all SEPTA employees working inside SEPTA offices, districts and shops within Philadelphia must continue to wear masks until further notice."


"While Amtrak passengers and employees are no longer required to wear masks while on board trains or in stations, masks are welcome and remain an important preventive measure against COVID-19. Anyone needing or choosing to wear one is encouraged to do so."


"Effective immediately, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has lifted the requirement to wear masks while utilizing public transportation. The Delaware Transit Corporation (DTC) will no longer be requiring masks to be worn on DART First State buses. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings.

The safety and well-being of our bus operators and customers remains our top priority and we will continue to monitor this situation and rely on guidance from the CDC and Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH). DTC will also continue with our enhanced cleaning protocols on all our buses."


"Soon after the pandemic began, Lyft established new in-ride policies based closely on public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Now that the CDC order mandating masks on transportation is no longer in effect, starting today, we're updating our policies for riding and driving with Lyft.

Here's what that means for riders and drivers:

Wearing a mask is now optional for everyone in the car

Riders and drivers are no longer required to keep the front seat empty or the windows open

While riders and drivers can always cancel any ride they don't wish to take, health safety reasons - like not wearing a mask - will no longer appear as cancellation options in the app

Riders and drivers should continue to not use Lyft if they have COVID-19 or any related symptoms

Wearing masks on transportation may still be required by law in some areas, and we encourage riders and drivers to check their local public health requirements before using Lyft.

We know that everyone has different comfort levels, and anyone who wants to continue wearing a mask is encouraged to do so. As always, we expect everyone in the car to follow our Community Guidelines and treat each other with respect."

NJ Transit

"The federal TSA announced that it will no longer enforce a mask mandate in public transportation settings. Masks will no longer be required on NJ TRANSIT and by South Jersey Transportation Authority. Individuals may wear a mask based on personal preference, informed by personal level of risk."


"Face Masks Optional on PATCO

Effective immediately, face masks are optional while riding PATCO. This change comes as a result of new guidance from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

PATCO encourages its customers to make decisions that are in their best interests and customers who wish to continue wearing face masks are welcome to do so."


"Due to today's court ruling, effective immediately, TSA will no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs. TSA will also rescind the new Security Directives that were scheduled to take effect tomorrow (Tuesday, April 19). CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time."


"As of April 19, 2022, riders and drivers are not required to wear masks when using Uber. However, the CDC still recommends wearing a mask if you have certain personal risk factors and/or high transmission levels in your area.

Remember: many people still feel safer wearing a mask because of personal or family health situations, so please be respectful of their preferences. And if you ever feel uncomfortable, you can always cancel the trip."


Masks must still be worn in airport terminals. Masks on planes vary by airline.

List of national airlines and where they stand:

Alaska Airlines

"Due to a judicial decision in our federal court system, the mask mandate has been overturned, which means our guests and employees have the option to wear a mask while traveling in the U.S. and at work."

Note: Guests must continue to wear masks on flights both to and from Canada.

American Airlines

"In accordance with the Transportation Security Administration no longer enforcing the federal face mask mandate, face masks will no longer be required for our customers and team members at U.S. airports and on domestic flights. Please note face masks may still be required based on local ordinances, or when traveling to/from certain international locations based on country requirements."

Frontier Airlines

"To mask or not to mask, the choice is yours. Masks are now optional on domestic flights, however, certain airports or countries may still require masks, so check the policy at your destination prior to departure and we'll see you in the sky."


"Effective immediately, masks are optional for all airport employees, crew members and customers inside U.S. airports and on board all aircraft domestically, as well as on most international flights."

"Delta employees and customers may continue wearing masks if they so choose. Wearing a well-fitting mask protects the wearer, even if others around them are not wearing masks."


"In line with Monday's federal court ruling and the TSA's guidance, mask wearing will now be optional on JetBlue within the U.S. While no longer required, customers and crewmembers may continue wearing masks in our terminals and on board our aircraft."

Southwest Airlines

"Effectively immediately, Southwest Employees and Customers will be able to choose whether they would like to wear a mask, and we encourage individuals to make the best decision to support their personal wellbeing."

Spirit Airlines

"Face coverings are now optional for Spirit Team Members & Guests onboard our flights following the federal court ruling and TSA guidance. We understand some Guests may want to continue wearing face coverings on flights, and that's perfectly fine under our optional policy. For our Guests traveling internationally, please remember to check country-specific airport requirements before traveling."

United Airlines

"Effective immediately, masks are no longer required at United on domestic flights, select international flights (dependent upon the arrival country's mask requirements) or at U.S. airports."