Masks in the cabin

Pessengers packed like sardinesCurrently, carriers don’t treat their customers like cargo because they cannot fill all seats in their aircraft. Rather, they are now able to treat passengers like human beings. However, this doesn’t include providing sufficient legroom because that would require a larger pitch (the distance between rows). But airlines can now block middle seats. Even so, the distance between passengers in a window and an aisle seat is less than 6 feet. Therefore, it may make sense they would require customers to wear masks.


Dr. Teresa Tam

Indeed, some carriers are considering requiring passengers to wear non-medical masks. However, there are also health experts including Dr. Teresa Tam, who don’t consider it useful. Some governments – like the Canadian government - do want airline passengers to wear masks in planes.

But some governments have doubts about the efficacy of masks. First, masks may not be effective if they have not been produced adequately. Second, many people don’t know how to use the masks, not even oxygen masks.

How to wear a mask

The latter becoms clear on April 17, 2018, when a Southwest Airlines flight suffers a major engine failure: a fan blade breaks off. Shrapnel blow a window out of the fuselage and cause the cabin to depressurize.

Masks covers mouth onlyPictures shot during the flight suggest that many passengers failed to have watched the safety demonstration attentively. Most passengers on board are wearing their oxygen masks wrongly by only covering their mouth as the picture shows.

Cover mouth and nose

The mask should cover both the nose and the mouth. The picture shows clearly that many passengers don’t cover their nose. Thus, it may be expected that if passengers are required to wear masks, many will use them wrongly by only covering the mouth.

In Germany, the aviation industry is working on a protocol that may make wearing masks on board mandatory to  passengers. It also provides that passengers must complete a health declaration. And in some cases it provides checking a passenger’s temperature. But blocking middle seats is not in the protocol included.


Some carriers are taking other measures. American Airlines is blocking off 50% of the middle seats, which seems a half-hearted measure. Other US carriers have increased cabin cleaning by companies that have been approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Thus, US airlines vary from doing very little to taking serious measures.

Related: Woman almost sucked out of plane and dies

Tags: coronavirus, masks, middle seats

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