The recent surge of non-mask-wearing misfits on-board has caused delays to flights and put passengers’ lives at risk.
And the South African airline industry isn’t taking the matter lightly. Defiant passengers who refuse to wear a mask are handed to authorities and could potentially face jail time.
In extreme cases that require a flight to divert to a nearby airport, the rebellious passengers may incur a hefty bill from the airline for the inconvenience.
Earlier this week, a man on a FlySafair flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg got thrown out of the plane minutes before take-off because he refused to wear his mask. The man wasn’t charged, but other travellers may not be as lucky.
Kirby Gordon, the chief marketing officer at FlySafair, said the airline is legally required to enforce compliance or stand the risk of being fined heavily.
“As an airline, we are regulated by the South African Civil Aviation Authority to ensure compliance or face the risk of being grounded. As such, we will enforce mask-wearing just as we do any other regulation until it changes.
“Our approach is simple. We politely ask non-compliant customers to wear their masks. If they refuse, we discretely hand them a card that details all the rules they need to follow. If they continue to refuse, the passenger is handed a Captain’s Letter. The letter reveals that they will be handed to the South African police if they don’t comply. Beyond that point, we have relatively very little information,” he said.
The captain can divert the plane to the nearest airport to drop off the passenger. The passenger is liable for all the expenses incurred in that process.
The passenger will also feature on the airline’s “no-fly” list and “won’t be welcome on any FlySafair flights in the future.”
The process is similar on the new airline Lift.
Jonathan Ayache, the co-founder of Lift, said all passengers, staff and cabin crew need to wear…