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By The Way
Detours with locals. Travel tips you can trust.

How to ask a seatmate to mask: The new etiquette for maskless flights

6 tips to help nervous travelers get through a flight without freaking out

(Katty Huertas/The Washington Post)
7 min

In the weeks since a federal judge in Florida struck down the federal mask mandate for planes and other transportation settings, Americans have met the change with a mix of excitement and concern. Some travelers welcomed the news, even cheering on planes when pilots announced the ruling. For others, the prospect of flying with unmasked seatmates has been a source of anxiety.

The Justice Department said it would appeal the decision, but the rule has been dropped for the time being. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends wearing a mask on flights.

If you are nervous about flying on an aircraft full of bare faces, you can take steps to make the journey less daunting. Below, psychology and etiquette experts offer advice on how to calm your nerves and courteously navigate a maskless flight.

Masks went away. Then anxiety spiked for high-risk travelers.