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Videos: Airline passengers, employees cheer as Biden mask mandate lifted

Masked passengers fill a Southwest Airlines flight. (Christopher Reynolds/TNS)
April 19, 2022

Passengers and airline employees in airports and on planes erupted in cheers Monday as U.S.-based airlines announced the end of the Biden administration’s public transportation mask mandate, which was struck down by a Trump-appointed federal judge in Florida for being “unlawful.”

Footage of Americans’ reactions quickly spread on social media. In one such video, a flight attendant chokes up as she announces that “for the first time in two years” masks are no longer required. The passengers immediately start cheering and clapping.

Another video posted on Twitter shows a male flight attendant walking down the aisle of an aircraft with a garbage bag as he sings, “Throw away your mask.” Once again, many passengers clap and cheer at the announcement.

On an Alaska Airlines flight, a pilot says, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your pilot speaking. This is the most important announcement I’ve ever made. The federal mask mandate is over. Take off your mask if you choose!”

“It’s over. Immediately,” he adds as passengers begin cheering and taking off their masks. “Congratulations.”

In another video posted on Twitter by the popular account Libs of TikTok, a pilot addresses the end of the mask mandate prior to takeoff.

“On April 18, the Biden administration announced that the Transportation Security Administration will no longer enforce the federal mandate requiring masks in all U.S. airports and onboard aircraft,” the pilot says.

The passengers applaud the announcement, and in the front of the plane, flight attendants can be seen waving their masks in the air.

“Finally!” one passenger yells.

On a Delta Air Lines flight, a flight attendant announces the judge’s decision and says, “No one is happier than we are. Masks are optional. If you would still like to wear your mask, please feel free to do so. We certainly encourage that if you would like to, but we’re ready to give them up.”

“Thank you and happy unmasking day!” she adds as the full plane cheers.

“MASK MANDATE LIFTED. Myself, and a couple hundred others, just learned mid-flight that the mask mandate is over?! The @Delta Airlines staff just got on the intercom to announce the mandate is lifted and now optional! Cheers followed the announcement! @cbsdenver @cbsnews,” reporter Dillon Thomas tweeted with video of the scene.

At a Southwest Airlines counter, video shows two smiling airline employees embracing after receiving word that the mask mandate had been lifted. One of the employees then says, “It’s really good to see what people look like!”

“Here’s the reaction today from two Southwest employees who have been forced to participate in theater in their workplace long after most Americans.  The travel mask mandate has been halted, 3 months after the CDC admitted that cloth masks are ineffective.  #covid #maskmandate,” a user tweeted.

In another video, the flight crew played “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang over the aircraft’s intercom after the announcement.

“When you’re actually on a flight & they tell you the federal mask mandate is lifted for travelers. Lots of cheering from passengers on board. Then flight crew started playing this on the speakers 🔊🔊🔊 #masks #nomasks #thisjustin #breakingnews,” reporter Erica Stapleton tweeted.

Another Twitter user posted video of Jet Blue flight attendants jumping for joy as the pilot announces that masks are no longer required.

“Celebration breaks out on a @JetBlue flight. The mask mandate has been lifted,” the user wrote.

Standing in sharp contrast to the reactions of Americans across the country, the White House condemned the court’s ruling, with Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki calling the decision “disappointing.”

“The CDC recommended continuing the order for additional time – two weeks – to be able to assess the latest science and keeping with its responsibility to protect the American people. So this is obviously a disappointing decision,” Psaki said. “The CDC continues recommending wearing a mask in public transit.”

Psaki added that the Department of Justice would be making “any determinations about litigation.”

The court’s decision is the result of a lawsuit filed in July last year by three plaintiffs, including the Health Freedom Defense Fund, which U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Mizelle for the Middle District of Florida described as a “non-profit organization that ‘opposes laws and regulations that force individuals to submit to the administration of medical products, procedures and devices against their will.”

The other two plaintiffs, Ana Daza and Sarah Pope, argued that the mask requirement aggravated anxiety conditions and provoked panic attacks.

The mask mandate was recently set to expire on April 18, but the Biden administration extended the order once again to early May.