AUSTIN, Texas —
Is everyone traveling by plane subject to the federal mask mandate?
No. If passengers are on a private aircraft operating for personal and non-commercial use, then the mask mandate does not apply.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order
- Transportation Security Administration directives
- Doug Gollan, private airline industry consultant and founder/editor-in-chief of Private Jet Card Comparisons
- Ryan Waguespack Senior VP with National Air Transportation Association (NATA)
This is one of the pictures shared from Texas Democrats regarding their flight to Washington, D.C. On July 12, nearly 60 Texas lawmakers abandoned the special session. Some of them later tested positive for COVID-19.
In pictures posted by Democrats, we found people pointing to the lack of face masks. So, we dug into the regulations around private flights.
“Well, the answer is yes and no. So what do I mean? There are two ways private jets operate. One is Part 91, which means you own the plane. You're just using it for your company or to fly your family and friend for '91' operations. You don't have to wear a face mask on the plane. Part 135 would be jet cards or charters, so you're paying to charter a plane. Those types of operations, yes. You do have to wear a face mask,” Gollan said.
The CDC order shows, “Persons must wear masks over the mouth and nose when traveling on conveyances into and within the U.S.”
It also shows:
“This Order exempts the following categories of conveyances, including persons on board such conveyances:
- Private conveyances operated solely for personal, non-commercial use.”
The four TSA directives all show the same exemption.
“You do if you are using an on-demand air carrier, which is no different than an airline, just using smaller business aviation- or general aviation-type aircraft. The only group that doesn’t have to wear a mask are those that are on their own private aircraft that they own and operate themselves,” Waguespack said.
“You still do have to wear a face mask in the terminals, but just as with regular airports, outside you don't. So if you're being driven to the side of the plane that you own, you could get out. You'd be outside of the private jet terminal. When you get on your plane, you don't have to wear a face mask,” Gollan said.
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