JetBlue, which offers flight service from Jacksonville International Airport, will require all flyers to wear face coverings starting Monday, May 4.
“Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself, it’s about protecting those around you,” said JetBlue President and CEO Joanna Geraghty in a news release.
The CDC defines a suitable face covering as an item of cloth that should fit snugly against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, include multiple layers of fabric and allow for unrestricted breathing.
JetBlue is exempting small children who “are not able to maintain a face covering” from the requirement, but the airline did not specify an age requirement.
JetBlue is also limiting the number of seats it will sell on most flights to provide additional space between individuals who are not traveling together.
Rows near crew member "jump seats" have also been blocked off to create buffer zones for added crew and customer safety.
“This is the new flying etiquette. Onboard, cabin air is well circulated and cleaned through filters every few minutes, but this is a shared space where we have to be considerate of others. We are also asking our customers to follow these CDC guidelines in the airport as well," said Geraghty.
JetBlue said all of its planes are equipped with hospital-grade, high-efficiency air particulate (HEPA) filters. Recirculated air is passed through these HEPA filters before re-entering the cabin and being mixed with fresh air.
The company said its airplane HEPA filters are capable of removing 99.97 percent of particles, bacteria and viruses.
JetBlue is implementing the new requirement as the airline industry deals a with huge passenger drop-off caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Passenger demand was down more than 95% from early March. Airlines in the U.S. have parked more than 2,800 planes, and airlines globally are on pace to lose $314 billion this year, according to the International Air Transport Association.