What happens to the flight attendant
Corona pandemic: what happens to mask refusers on the plane?
It is compulsory to wear mouth-and-nose protection. But some people are careless - for example on public transport such as the subway. But what happens to those who take off the mask on the plane?
Whether out of ignorance, defiance or ideology: Many people do not wear a face mask. However, this is particularly important in aircraft because the minimum distance cannot be maintained. The rules of the airlines are clear: wearing a mask is compulsory - except when eating and drinking.
But how does that look in practice? How do you deal with mask refusers on board? This is explained by Franziska Günther, Head of Cabin Crew at the Tuifly holiday airline and responsible for around 1,400 flight attendants.
Most of the passengers are considerate
"The behavior of the guests is very sensible, the majority support the mask requirement and show consideration for other passengers," says Günther.
Nevertheless, the mask is of course an issue. "We certainly also have guests on board who need a few more tips and who do not take the issue so seriously. But I cannot confirm that there are mask refusers on every flight."
And what if a vacationer shows himself unreasonable? "We have an escalation pyramid and a catalog of measures. First we speak to the passenger and inform them in a friendly manner about the mask requirement," says Günther. "This is followed by more specific instructions and an admonition."
In the worst case, there is a risk of a stopover
If a passenger does not respond to multiple warnings, things get serious: "If the de-escalation does not work, we create a Passenger Disturbance Report, land in between and contact the local authorities, such as the Federal Police," says Günther. However, this has so far not occurred on any of the around 2,000 Tuifly flights during the Corona period.
Hygiene regulations: Passengers are also obliged to cover their mouth and nose on the plane. (Source: Aitor Diago / Getty Images)
"We haven't had anyone on board who didn't want to put on the mask and whom we had to fish out before take-off," says Günther. In that case the machine would roll back to the gate. "The passenger would have to leave the plane, his luggage would be unloaded." That leads to a delay of at least 30 minutes.
In any case, it is rare that someone does not wear a mask at all, reports the airline employee. "Much more often the mask is not put on correctly." And most of the passengers then reacted to the friendly tip. "We also have masks on board that we can provide should someone lose their mask."
Even before take-off, there are announcements about the protective measures and the reduced service on board - among other things, that the mask may only be removed for eating and drinking. "But you can't drink your coffee for three hours before you can take off the mask," says Günther. "We'll pay attention to that."
Less alcohol promotes insight
We know that alcohol is not conducive to common sense. Two drunken mask refusers recently rioted on a KLM flight to Ibiza and were arrested on arrival.
"We have reduced the serving of alcohol a lot and do not have large quantities of alcoholic beverages on board," reports Günther. "The reduced service also prevents a lot of beer or wine from being drunk. You can still order a beer, but at the moment it is not the case that the guests on board want to drink a lot." Especially in Corona times, you no longer have the typical party guests on board.
Boarding is also handled more strictly because of Corona: "We board in small groups, depending on the requirements of the countries," says Günther. In Cyprus, for example, guests leave the aircraft row by row.
Exception only with a certificate
For people with certain illnesses, it may actually be unreasonable to wear a face mask during a flight. "It happens that we have guests who show a certificate at check-in, at the gate or at the latest on board," reports Günther. "These passengers are usually equipped with a visor that they can also use." At Tuifly, the following applies: "If you have a medical certificate and a visor, you can fly with you."
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