Are Face Masks Allowed On Planes? TSA Rules About Medical, Surgical, Respirator, & Gas Masks

Last Updated on May 5, 2020


Due to recent worldwide event not only are you allowed to wear a face mask on a plane all major airlines in the united states have made wearing a face mask mandatory.

You MUST wear a face mask if you are flying right now. If your airline does not provide one then you will need to source one yourself.

There is a wider debate about how effective face masks are in preventing you from catching a virus like the cold, flu, and coronavirus (COVID-19).

This post does not cover that debate. Suffice to say that if you are already sick with cold, flu wearing a mask can stop you from infecting other people. It is contentious whether wearing a mask will prevent you from becoming sick.

We just cover the question of whether you can wear a face mask on a plane or not.

If you are considering wearing a medical mask, surgical mask, respirator mask, or even a gas mask for your next flight then this is the post for you.

Let’s jump right in.

Airplane Face Mask TSA Rules

The Transportation Security Administration is quite clear about medical face masks.

You are allowed to pack medical face masks in both your carry on bags (hand luggage) and your checked bags. You are also allowed to wear a medical face mask when you are on a plane but you should remove the mask when you are going through the TSA security checkpoint so that the TSA officer can verify your identity.

The security officers on the ground always have the final say about what is going on, but you should have no problems wearing a surgical mask while you are on a flight. You can bring a mask on board no problem.

Here is the @asktsa service on Twitter field questions about face masks on flights.

Justin asked about medical face masks:

Christian asked about face masks:

James checked his respirator mask was going to be okay:

Gas masks are allowed in your carry on luggage:

However, don’t think of wearing a full gas mask on a flight:

AA already removed a passenger for refusing to take off his full gas mask and panicking the other passengers.

You can also pack a Halloween mask in your carry on luggage but like the gas mask don’t wear it during the flight! Air travel is scary enough at the best of times.

What Type Of Mask Should I Wear On A Plane?

It’s widely reported that medical masks or surgical masks don’t filter out viruses. Their main benefit is for people who are already sick to stop them from infecting other people.

Respirator masks like a surgical N95 mask do filter out airborne particles and may provide some protection against viruses.

In terms of other things you can do, frequent handwashing is a great idea. If you are unable to wash your hand a good hand sanitizer is another tool to have in your tool kit.

Antibacterial wipes are great for cleaning your armrests and tray tables.

While many viruses are spread airborne through coughing and sneezing sometimes we touch contaminated surfaces and then touch our mouths.

So disinfecting your personal space can be useful.

Make sure you carry tissues too in case you need them or even to share if you end up sitting next to someone who probably just has a cold.

The Verdict

Yes, you can wear a face mask on a plane. Medical or surgical masks are allowed but you might need to take off the mask briefly to verify your identity.

I have tried to avoid the debate but I will say don’t rely on a medical face mask to prevent you from catching the flu, the cold, or coronavirus when flying. Much of the advice from health experts suggest they are ineffective.

A respirator mask might be a better shout but it might also be worth considering eliminating all nonessential air travel in the current climate.

Stay hydrated, get enough sleep, eat healthily, do all you can to boost your immune system but don’t rely on a flimsy piece of fabric to protect you.

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