Politics

TSA to extend mask mandate for flights, other travel into January

Passengers board an American Airlines flight to Charlotte, North Carolina, at San Diego International Airport on May 20, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

(CNN) — The Transportation Security Administration will extend its U.S. federal transportation mask mandate through Jan. 18, according to a source familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity because the announcement has not been made public.

The mandate was set to expire on Sept. 13.

More than 2,867 incidents of passengers violating the federal mask mandate have been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration so far this year, the agency said Tuesday.

A second source familiar with the matter confirms the transportation extension. This source says federal officials are holding a series of briefing calls, with airlines and some aviation unions.

Reuters first reported the mandate extension.

TSA said in a statement Tuesday it does “not yet have an announcement regarding face masks at this time.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Union reaction

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents nearly 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airlines, supported TSA’s expected extension of the mask mandate. “Masks are the most effective tool to stop the spread of COVID-19,” she said in a news statement. “While vaccination has been key to the increased air travel demand, the lagging vaccination rates and rise of the Delta variant has caused cases to skyrocket again — threatening lives, continued virus mutation, and recovery from this pandemic.

“We have a responsibility in aviation to keep everyone safe and do our part to end the pandemic, rather than aid the continuation of it. Air travel is one of the most controlled indoor spaces with layers of safety protocols that make it possible to serve our communities.”

She said TSA Administrator David Pekoske’s “decision in coordination with the Biden administration to continue the TSA enforcement directive for the CDC transportation mask mandate will help tremendously to keep passengers and aviation workers safe.”

“We all look forward to the day masks are no longer required but we’re not there yet.”

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