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United Airlines begins facemask crackdown Thursday, may deny future travel

It's just one of the U.S. airlines telling passengers they may be denied future flying privileges if they don't agree to wear a face covering on board.

United Airlines will place any passenger who does not comply with its face mask requirement on an internal travel restriction list starting Thursday. It is one of the U.S. airlines making it clear: if you don't wear the mask, you don't get to fly.

Airlines for America, a trade association that represents several U.S. airlines, said this week that passengers will be reminded, before boarding and while on board, about the policy requiring face masks and the consequences for violating it. It said Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest and United would be implementing similar policies.

The group also said airlines will determine for themselves the appropriate consequences, including the suspension of flying privileges.

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American, Delta and United state on their websites that customers who don't comply may be suspended from future flights. United said that part of its policy goes into effect Thursday.

"The more people in a given space wearing masks, the fewer viral particles are making it into the space around them, decreasing exposure and risk," Dr. James Merlino, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer at Cleveland Clinic, said in a statement by United.

Credit: AP
Passengers wearing personal protective face masks leave the United Airline ticket counter after checking in Tuesday, June 16, 2020, at the Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Southwest says it will deny boarding to anyone not agreeing to wear a mask.

U.S. airlines implemented the mask policies in early May with exemptions for small children and people with conditions that prohibit them from wearing a mask. In general, passengers are required to wear a face-covering at all times during the flight except when eating or drinking.

“U.S. airlines are very serious about requiring face coverings on their flights. Carriers are stepping up enforcement of face coverings and implementing substantial consequences for those who do not comply with the rules,” said Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio in a statement. “Face coverings are one of several public health measures recommended by the CDC as an important layer of protection for passengers and customer-facing employees.”

RELATED: Some airlines add pre-flight health questionnaire to COVID safety measures

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