TSA to extend mask mandate for planes and public transportation until April 18, reports say

Posted at 9:33 AM, Mar 10, 2022

The Transportation Security Administration will extend a rule that requires travelers to wear masks on planes to prevent the spread of COVID-19 until April 18, NBC News and Bloomberg report.

The mask mandate was slated to expire on March 18.

The reports come as many states roll back COVID-19 restrictions and mask mandates as case rates and hospitalizations plummet.

Last month, a union representing thousands of flight attendants said they expected the TSA to extend the mask mandate. Their statement noted that masks would help protect children younger than five — who currently are not eligible for vaccination — and immunocompromised flight attendants.

President Joe Biden imposed the federal mask mandate on airplanes upon taking office in 2021. Since then, the TSA has reported a disturbing spike in unruly passenger incidents, many of them linked to travelers' refusal to wear masks.

Travelers at Sky Harbor in Phoenix had mixed opinions on the announcement.

"I don't like it but I don't like masks," said Susan Bingham. "I think it's unnecessary -- that's just how I feel about it."

Others said they supported the extension and planned on wearing a mask regardless.

"I'm glad for the extension because we are going to be doing some traveling and I would be wearing a mask anyway," Laurie McElhatton.

McElhatton flew into Sky Harbor on Thursday and joined her sisters on vacation. They shared the same sentiment.

"I don't care because I would wear one anyway. So I'm fine with it," said Nancy Garnica.