OAKLAND (CSB SF) — Recent statistics from the TSA show the number of people screened at U.S. airports daily is slowly increasing after it dropped below 90,000 in mid-April. But airlines continue to face a lot of confusion and uncertainty.
“Right now it’s really the wild west out there,” says consumer reports aviation advisor, Bill McGee.
That’s not exactly what you want to hear about air travel when you’re about to board a flight.
There is no federal mandate for what airlines or passengers have to do to stay safe and healthy on board a plane, only a 24-page set of Department of Transportation recommendations, leaving the final call, McGee says, to the company itself.
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“It’s really a mess,” McGee said. “It’s just a hodgepodge of different policies for each airport and each airline. Some are more effective than others. Some are trying more than others.”
Consumer Reports recently asked for the DOT to come up with federally enforceable mandates and has launched a petition on behalf of passengers.
Currently, all carriers require masks on board flights and most require passengers answer a series of health questions before boarding. But only Alaska, Delta, Southwest, Jet Blue and Hawaiian guarantee an empty middle seat. Frontier is the sole carrier requiring your temperature.
But because they are policies and not mandates, The Points Guy senior editor Nick Ewen says, they could change next week.
“For travelers,” Ewen says, “you kind of need to do your homework to know exactly what to expect.”
Blending the patchwork of policies, Ewen says, wouldn’t just make it more consistent for travelers. It would be a big boon for front line workers in the industry.
“Having a nationwide mask mandate or system of policies and what it means to have a clean and disinfected aircraft, would ensure that there are federal procedures to enforce it so airlines aren’t left to police it,” Ewen said.