2.04.21 – An Update on the Face-Covering Security Directive

Thursday, February 4, 2021

An Update on the Face-Covering Security Directive

Due to ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and to assist in reducing the spread of the virus, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has moved forward with a Security Directive effective February 2, 2021.

The Presidential Executive Order requires a face mask to be worn while traveling on various surface transportation modes and while onboard an aircraft. This includes airports.

The mask mandate is long overdue, and we thank President Biden for seeing to this on the second day in office. The Executive Order provides important consistency across the aviation industry and sets clear expectations for our passengers. We are hopeful that this mandate will make mask enforcement easier for our Flight Attendants. We support the Company’s decision to strictly enforce the policies regarding passengers with medical exemptions.

Please note American Airlines mask policy standards are higher than required of the Security Directive.

American Airlines Mask Policy

Passengers are required to wear a face-covering at all times while onboard the aircraft. Anyone who refuses may be subject to penalties under federal law. Passengers with permanent disabilities who are unable to wear a mask may request an exemption. Passengers in this category will be required to contact the Special Assistance team at least 72 hours prior to departure. If approved, the passenger will be notated as a ‘No Mask Okay’ (NMOK). Exemptions require:

  • Documentation from a licensed health care provider.
  • Proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three calendar days of departure or proof of recovery from COVID-19.


Airport Customer Service will not board passengers who do not wear a face-covering and have not completed the NMOK process prior to the flight. Gate agents must specifically brief FA1 on any NMOK passengers(s) on the flight during the Departure Dependability Briefing (DDB) prior to passenger boarding.

During the DDB between FA1 and the gate agent, the ‘No Mask Okay’ (NMOK) passenger(s) will be identified, and seat location provided. Keep in mind, NMOK information is not available on the Flight Attendant Tablet. However, the final paperwork provided to FA1 will contain their name and seat number.

During the Crew Briefing, the FA1 will disclose whether or not an NMOK passenger is traveling on their flight and provide the seat number.

If a passenger is not complying with the face-covering requirement and are not noted as an NMOK on the final paperwork, a Flight Attendant should follow the steps below:

  • Provide a verbal reminder to the passenger(s)
  • If the passenger(s) continues to be non-compliant, another Flight Attendant on the crew should issue another reminder.
  • Ensure that the communication between customers and Flight Attendants is clear.
  • If the passenger(s) continues to be non-compliant and ignores your requests, without escalating the situation, all involved Flight Attendants must submit a Corporate Event Report System (CERS) report.


The CERS report must contain:

  • Date of flight
  • Customer name
  • Seat number
  • Summary of circumstances and interaction with the customer


Please remember when reporting Customer Misconducts regarding face-coverings, at least two Flight Attendants involved with the incident will need to file a CERS report. 

If a customer becomes aggressive or threatening, please fill out a Passenger Inflight Disturbance Report (PIDR), as well as a CERS report.

Remember that children under two are exempt from the face-covering requirement.

Under the TSA Security Directive, face coverings allowed for travel must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Made of multiple layers of tightly woven materials such as cotton or linen
  • Completely covers a person’s nose, mouth, and chin without gaping.
  • Can be secured to a person’s head with ties, ear loops, elastic, or similar materials.
  • The portion of a face mask in front of a wearer’s lips may be made of transparent material that permits lip-reading if the rest of the face mask comprises multiple layers of tightly woven materials such as cotton or linen, and there is a tight seal between the transparent material and the rest of the face mask.


Face shields or goggles are not an acceptable substitute for a face mask but may be used in addition to the face covering. With this new requirement, neck gaiters, multi-bands, or bandanas are no longer permitted. Masks with valves or vents are still not allowed. If you question whether a face-covering meets the requirements, offer the customer a face-covering from the PPE drawer in place of or in addition to their face-covering.

Updated Health and Safety as well as mid-flight PAs with the new Federal Mask Mandate language, which must be read as written so that customers are aware of possible consequences, are located in Comply365 > My Publications > IFM/PAs/COVID19 > PAs > COVID 19 PAs.

The new Security Directive and a link to the CDC website is available on Jetnet.

In Solidarity,

Thomas Houdek
APFA National Safety & Security Chair


Cathy Sharp
APFA National Health Chair


Allie Malis
APFA Government Affairs Representative

Lori Glattly
APFA Government Affairs Representative


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Fax: (817) 540-2077


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