It was an announcement heard all over — and 35,000 feet above — the country on Monday: A federal judge in Florida struck down the federal transportation mask mandate. The Transportation Security Administration said it would no longer enforce the rule, and large U.S. airlines and transportation companies announced masks were optional.
Videos posted on social media showed that some pilots broke the news midflight, leading to cheers as passengers ripped off their face coverings. Other travelers complained that they were suddenly surrounded by maskless people after taking off when the mandate was still in place.
It was a chaotic end to an era that has stretched nearly two years; airlines had been requiring masks since May 2020.
Here’s what travelers should know about the change.