President Joe Biden is ignoring calls from top airline executives, including Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci, to ditch the federal mask mandates for public transportation.

Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci

The mandates, which extend to airplanes and airports, were set to expire on April 18, but will now extend to at least May 3 thanks to the latest extension.

Last month a group of 11 airline CEOs and presidents wrote a strongly worded letter directly to President Joe Biden calling for an end to his “outdated” policy.

“Now is the time for the Administration to sunset federal transportation travel restrictions – including the international predeparture testing requirement and the federal mask mandate – that are no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment,” the letter states. “The United Kingdom (UK), the European Union and Canada have recognized this reality and lifted travel restrictions. The U.S. inconsistency with these practices creates a competitive disadvantage for U.S. travel and tourism by placing an additional cost and burden on travel to the U.S.”

The letter cites the CDC’s own statement, claiming that “99% of the U.S. population no longer need to wear masks indoors.” It also points to a Harvard study noting that the “airplane cabin is one of the safest indoor environments due to the combination of highly filtered air and constant air flow coupled with the downward direction of the air.”

Let those who want to mask do so, the letter states, adding that it “makes no sense that people are still required to wear masks on airplanes, yet are allowed to congregate in crowded restaurants, schools and at sporting events without masks, despite none of these venues having the protective air filtration system that aircraft do.”

The letter observes that the “burden of enforcing” mask mandates has fallen to employees who are dealing with increasingly “frustrated customers.”

“We are requesting this action not only for the benefit the of the traveling public, but also for the thousands of airline employees charged with enforcing a patchwork of now-outdated regulations implemented in response to COVID-19,” the airline executives state.

The current federal mandate comes with stringent fines for those who refuse to comply. The TSA recommends fines ranging from $250 for the “first offense,” and up to $1,500 for “repeat offenders.” The TSA further states that it “may seek a sanction amount that falls outside these ranges … to those who refuse to wear a face mask.”

Mask mandates apply to travelers in airports, bus and rail stations, as well as those on passenger aircraft, public transportation, passenger railroads, over-the-road buses operating on scheduled fixed-routes and people inside stations, ports and other transportation hubs.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman news.

Alaska Airline CEO among those saying mask mandates ‘make no sense’

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • charles benshetler says:

    comments section cumbersome.

    • Jake Libbey says:

      To address paid trolls. Apologies if it is cumbersome, but it is the price we pay since I am paid zero dollars for all my Watchman efforts, and I have to spend hours moderating troll comments.