Airlines say mask mandates aren't needed anymore. Are filters enough to prevent COVID on airplanes?

1 min read


Airline mask mandate: Are airplanes safe? Do HEPA filters stop COVID?

  • Airplane filters remove 99% of particles, experts say, which can help keep transmission of COVID-19 low on flights.
  • But face masks provide an additional layer of protection — especially if you’re sitting next to an infected passenger.
  • Though filters are effective, one expert said, people need to remember air systems can be turned off during boarding.

Weeks before a federal judge’s ruling led U.S. airlines to drop mask mandates, airline executives argued masks no longer should be required – in part because air filtration systems on planes create “hospital-grade cabin air.”

Now that masks are optional on every major U.S. airline, experts said the filters that remove 99% of particles, including viruses, will help keep transmission on flights low but won’t eliminate the risk of spreading COVID-19 that masks helped mitigate.

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