The decision to restore flight privileges to thousands of previously banned customers comes just days after a federal judge from Florida struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) regulation mandating masks on public transportation. (Related: Federal judge strikes down national mask mandate covering airports, airplanes and other public travel.)
The judge's decision states that the CDC's rule exceeded its statutory authority because the implementation of its mask mandate violates federal administrative law.
The ruling led to most major airlines in America quickly announcing that they were rolling back their mask requirements for their passengers.
The four major airlines that have announced their intentions to scrub their no-fly lists are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.
In a statement, Alaska Airlines announced that customers previously barred from flying over mask violations will be given another opportunity to fly with the company.
"Guests who were banned solely for mask non-compliance will be allowed to purchase tickets on our flights," said the company's media relations manager. Alaska Airlines banned over 1,700 customers over mask violations since the beginning of the pandemic.
American Airlines said passengers barred over mask non-compliance will be allowed to come back "at some point in time." One of the company's top executives said this allowance may not be extended to passengers who escalated requests to leave American flights by assaulting the company's employees.
"Those passengers are going to remain on our permanent internal refuse list and will never be allowed to travel again," said Chief Corporate and Government Affairs Officer Nate Gatten.
Delta Air Lines said it will review each mask non-compliance incident that led to flight privileges being revoked and will restore those privileges only on a case-by-case basis. A company spokesperson added that each customer must demonstrate "an understanding of their expected behavior when flying with us."
"Any further disregard for the policies that keep us all safe will result in placement on Delta's permanent no-fly list," said the spokesperson.
Like American, Delta will not reinstate flight privileges for around 1,000 customers who "demonstrated egregious behavior," when they were asked to comply with the mask mandate.
United Airlines said it will allow customers previously banned for failing to comply with the mandate on a case-by-case basis. These passengers must establish that they will commit to following "all crewmember instructions onboard."
United barred around 1,000 customers from flying during the span of the mask mandate for air travel.
Meanwhile, Southwest refused to cite how many people it banned for mask non-compliance, claiming "security protocols" prohibited it. But the airline indicated that the travelers on its list were barred for disruptive behavior and they would remain on that list.
Watch this episode of "The Healthy American" as host Peggy Hall talks about the airlines allowing passengers previously on no-fly lists due to COVID-19 violations back on their flights.