Passengers report inconsistent mask use on planes amid surge in air travel

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Dozens of travelers flying out of states deemed COVID-19 “hot spots” – including Arizona, Florida and Texas – landed Monday at Indianapolis International Airport (IND).

Some took their masks off immediately upon entering the airport terminal, where face coverings are not required.

Their arrival in Indiana came after a weekend of record air travel during the global pandemic and amid stepped up enforcement of face covering requirements on planes.

On Sunday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported the highest number of travelers passing through airport checkpoints since March 18.

“I’m really not nervous at all [about COVID-19 exposure while traveling],” said Tashina Finkton, a passenger returning from a vacation in Phoenix and Sedona, Ariz. “It should be my personal choice whether or not I want to wear the mask.”

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All major airlines with service through IND require face coverings on planes. However, enforcement is inconsistent, passengers said.

Some airlines – including Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and JetBlue – announced failure to comply could impact a passenger’s future flight privileges.

Although Finkton pulled her cloth mask below her chin after landing at IND, she said she wore it for the duration of her flight from Phoenix.

Irelynn McComb, an Indianapolis resident returning from a weeklong family vacation in Florida, said “not everybody” wore masks on her flight from Sarasota. She only removed hers to eat dinner in the concourse before leaving the airport.

Wendy Kaveney, whose family was on the same flight as Finkton, kept her nose and mouth covered with a cloth mask until she was outside the airport.

“We’re in one of the hot spots in Arizona, so that’s a big concern,” she told News 8. “I was very nervous [traveling]. We’re being very careful. Back in Arizona, we’re still quarantining ourselves.”

Kaveney’s trip to Indianapolis to visit her daughter was her first vacation during the pandemic. She planned to stay for a week and self-quarantine for “a couple of weeks” after returning to Arizona.

Indiana does not require travelers from regions experiencing surges in coronavirus cases to quarantine upon arriving in the Hoosier state.

Airline and airport workers said they expected another bump in air travel during the July 4 weekend.