Allegiant Airlines has joined all other U.S. airlines in requiring masks to fly.

The ultra-low cost carrier said Friday it had been waiting for the government to mandate masks as the coronavirus pandemic expands.

“We had hoped to see a federal mandate to require face masks, so that all airlines could be uniform in their approach, to avoid customer confusion, and to aid enforcement,” Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Scott Sheldon said in a statement. “In the absence of that, we are taking this next needed step in our own policy.”

Allegiant’s mask requirement begins Thursday. Masks will be required in all key locations: the ticket counter, the gate area, during boarding and on the aircraft.

“Customers who do not comply will not be allowed to fly,” states Allegiant’s press release.

Crew are required to wear a mask while interacting with passengers.

Allegiant will also require passengers to complete a health questionnaire and acknowledge the mask policy at check-in.

“Children ages 2 and under are exempt from the new policy, as are passengers with disabilities or documented medical conditions,” states Allegiant’s press release. “Passengers will also be allowed to remove face coverings to briefly eat or drink.

Allegiant also joins other airlines in allowing passengers to rebook their flight should the numbers of filled seats exceed 65% of capacity. Higher cost airlines such as Delta have promised through Sept. 30, to keep all center seats open or aisle seats in smaller planes.

Since the pandemic started, Allegiant said it has undertaken state-of-the-art cleaning and disinfection technologies on its planes.

Experts have reassured travelers that airline ventilation systems are effective at preventing infection, and that the seat backs provide barriers as well.

In early May, Allegiant was the first U.S. airline to provide all passengers complimentary masks and cleansing wipes. It did not require masks, however, while all other U.S. airlines did. Allegiant said originally that a mandate was not needed, but that has changed.

“We have found that the vast majority of customers wear masks as a standard practice, but this adds a layer of assurance and addresses customer needs as communities re-open,” Sheldon said.


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