The current position has me in airports and on planes anywhere from 15-20 times a month, covering the country. I see large and small, liberal and conservative and so forth. So, I was curious what would happen when the federal mask mandate on commercial travel would finally expire (or, be shut down in this case).
NOTE - this post is NOT a comment on the efficacy of masking for COVID-19, either during travel or in daily life. Just an observation from last week on what people are DOING.
Last Sunday's flight? Typical of what I've seen - everyone was cooperative on the aircraft, and most people in the airport were diligent. Travelers have figured out the locations to eat and drink, or have a video call, or whatever in order to pull the mask off for a while, but for the most part you saw them in place. I've been fortunate to avoid any of the flights with drama of someone refusing to wear theirs, and slowing things down for everyone else while it's dealt with.
Monday, a federal judge struck down the ruling, with both airlines and government agencies stating they were immediately out of the enforcement business. If you wanted to wear one, fine, but no one was going to play "mask police".
Much gnashing of teeth and wailing occurred from both sides. Some outlets showed cheering passengers and in-flight announcements with celebrations of the demise of the mandate. Others reported the "majority" of people wanted them to stay in place. No surprise to find media looking at the extremes.
Where's the truth? As always, probably in the mid-range somewhere.
So - on Wednesday's travel, I did some simple observations, with both a smaller and a major airport, and two different aircraft involved.
Roughly 5% of travelers were still masking, either in the airport or on the plane. Some locations still had employees (particularly in food service) masked, while others weren't. I didn't see any flight crew masked on the ground or in the air.
Notably (and, perhaps my favorite part) - I also didn't see anyone giving other people crap one way or another. No one made comments if someone was still masked, and there were no tantrums about being around the unclean. In general, people were respecting individual decisions and boundaries, and going on with their lives.
Maybe there's some hope for the species.