Passengers Were Required to Wear Masks Except While Snacking

Guy eating a snack on a plane pulling his face mask down between bites
Artwork by Anthony Faust
Guy eating a snack on a plan pulling his face mask down between bites

All airlines implemented a mask wearing policy on their flights. It was one of the most unusual and annoying restrictions that many of us had to endure while traveling. Most people politely obliged, whether they agreed with the policy or the efficacy of the rule in the first place. They had somewhere to get to, and the only real way to get there was on an airplane. Some had complete meltdowns. Just search “refusing to wear mask on plane” on YouTube and get your popcorn ready. (Some people lost their damn minds during the pandemic--this is just a fact.)

The risk of catching COVID-19 while on an airplane was thought to be minimal due to the high quality of air supplied in the cabin, which surpasses that of most indoor settings. Passengers faced the same direction, and the seats acted as natural barriers. The air flowed from top to bottom and was refreshed 20-30 times an hour with a combination of HEPA-filtered and fresh air from outside. 99.93% of the bacteria/viruses were eliminated in the filtering process. Yet, the airlines required passengers to wear masks. Many questioned that.

Although the airlines stopped food and drink service on airplanes, most of them still encouraged passengers to bring their own beverages and snacks on board. Those skeptical of the mask policy had their argument bolstered when the airlines created an exception to their own rule: Passengers may pull their masks down while eating or drinking on the plane. Coronavirus apparently couldn’t spread while someone snacked. This was just pure science.

Despite the annoyance factor, there was a certain level of absurdity to the whole thing that made it almost comical. For the defiant few, the game was to slow-play their eating and drinking. If they could eat their bag of Doritos and drink their bottle of water at a slow enough pace, they could justify having their mask down for the entire flight!

The flight attendants’ job was that of a hall monitor. Pacing up and down the aisle, keeping an internal clock going on each passenger’s mask. If a passenger went two or three minutes with their mask down to their chin, it was a quick “Excuse me, ma’am, can you please put your mask on?”. This cat and mouse game turned into a sport, and helped pass the time of even the longest flights.

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About the Author

My life as a husband and father transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sent home from work in March 2020, I've yet to return to the office. Adapting to the new pandemic world proved challenging for us all.

However, we managed to find silver linings. Drive-by birthdays brought joy to my kids' friends. I'll never forget stumbling upon a heartfelt hand-painted rock during my jog, reminding us that we're all in this together. Regular Zoom happy hours with close friends created cherished memories.

While quality time with my family was a blessing, we also faced hurdles. Assisting my youngest daughter with frustrating math homework on a poorly designed iPad app tested our patience. Both girls struggled with wearing masks during sports and school.

Sadly, witnessing COVID-19 being politicized and witnessing the closure of small businesses while the wealthy thrived was disheartening.

I wrote this book to document our experiences, learning from them and striving for better decisions in the future. Join me on this rewarding journey of resilience and growth.

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