An American Airlines jetliner is seen on March 28 at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Mo. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
April 30 (UPI) -- Three major U.S. airlines on Thursday announced they will require passengers to wear face coverings on planes as unions and politicians pressure the Trump administration to mandate the practice nationwide to prevent the spread of the deadly and infectious coronavirus.
Delta Air Lines said customers will be required to wear a mask or covering from Monday in the check-in lobby, Delta Sky Clubs, boarding gate areas, jet bridges and on aircraft. They're also being encouraged in high-traffic areas, such as security lines and restrooms.
American Airlines said the requirement will take effect from May 11. Travelers will be required to wear masks aboard American flights, with exceptions for "very young passengers" and those with conditions that prevent it.
United Airlines also said its mandate will take effect Monday.
"Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our people and our customers," said Bill Lentsch, Delta's chief customer experience officer. "While we remain committed to our new standard of clean and to providing more space for our customers when they travel, we take seriously the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines for adding this extra layer of protection."
All three carriers require flight attendants and some employees to wear face masks and adhere to CDC guidelines.
JetBlue Airways on Tuesday became the first major U.S. airline to make the requirement and Frontier said Thursday customers will be required to wear face coverings.
The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon urged the Federal Aviation Administration to require masks for crew and passengers after a letter from the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA that said at least 250 of its members have tested positive for the virus.
Requiring masks, it said, will minimize the risk.
"The scars run deep," the union said. "Recent media reports document the guilt felt by those who question if we are helping to spread the virus, feelings of fear and grief as coworkers die and wonder about when this will all be over."