Midway through her flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles on Monday night, Brooke Tansley heard the pilot’s voice rise through the public address system and apologized for the interruption.
“You’ll be very excited to hear this news,” she recalled him saying. The Transportation Security Administration no longer required masks on planes and passengers could remove them if they wanted to. The announcement was greeted with some clapping and cheering cheers, and about a third of the people on board immediately took off their masks, Ms Tansley said.
For some travelers, Monday night came the TSA’s announcement that it would stop enforcing a mask mandate after a federal judge in Florida lifted the requirement while they were already en route — in airport terminals, on the tarmac, or even in the air.
Many passengers greeted the news with applause and cheers, as seen in videos posted on social media. a nam a festive selfie, with most of the fellow passengers in wide, maskless grins. A pilot said to those aboard his flight, “Congratulations.”
Not all flights appeared to have immediately abolished the mask requirement. At least one person wrote on Twitter that a flight attendant told him to keep masks on.
For her part, Mrs. Tansley felt a jolt of terror and terror. She was with her two children, a 4-year-old and an 8-month-old, both too young to be vaccinated, the baby too young for a mask. She was on her way to a work meeting with a colleague with a rare autoimmune disease, and her family had undergone PCR tests for fear of infecting him.
“I was scared — I could only hope it would be okay,” she said. “There was no other option.”
Ms Tansley said her family had not been on a flight since Christmas 2019 amid concerns about the virus. She has asthma and said she wasn’t sure if she would continue with her work meetings, or what her family would do with their return flight home on April 25.
“It’s not that the mask mandate has changed that upset me, it’s that we boarded the plane according to one set of rules and made a decision as a family and as a task force,” said Ms Tansley, a television producer. and former Broadway. performer. “The decision was made in the middle of the flight for us.”
Scott Hechinger, a lawyer, was waiting for his delayed flight to New York at a busy terminal in West Palm Beach, Florida, when the announcement came that the mandate had been revoked and passengers were free to board without masks.
The terminal erupted into loud, sustained cheers, and about half of the travelers took off their masks, he said.
“Because this announcement happened literally minutes before we got on the plane, I felt very uncomfortable,” Mr Hechinger wrote in a text message. On his flight, about 75 percent were unmasked, he said.
He said he was concerned about his wife and 6-year-old son, who were airborne on a separate flight bound for Los Angeles.
“It dawned on me that my wife and young son would probably also get this announcement mid-flight and be more exposed than usual,” he wrote. “I’m upset, uncomfortable and frustrated.”