CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Following a federal judge’s ruling, many people are returning to the skies with masks optional.
The decision on mask policies is now up to each individual airline.
People passing through Gerald R. Ford International Airport Tuesday night say it was easy to notice the change.
The airport lifted its mask requirement after the court decision was announced.
Bernadette Gawron was flying back to Florida after visiting her home state of Michigan.
“It’s great. It’s really freeing and I’m really happy. I think it should have been done a long time ago,” Grawon said.
Ashley Garcia arrived to the Ford Airport from Florida. The mask requirement was in place when she flew out for the trip but was not in effect on the way home.
“We went from Tampa to Atlanta and Atlanta to here and I would say 70% of people in the airport were not wearing masks,” Garcia said.
David Wathne was heading back to Holland after returning from New York.
“There was a little confusion in LaGuardia. Delta said that it was really bad yesterday, the ticketing agents, because the pilots are saying one thing and the stewardesses and the flight attendants were saying something else,” Wathne said.
Much of the responsibility to enforce the mask rules fell on flight attendants, who have seen an increase in the number of unruly passengers.
The Association of Flight Attendants is not taking a position since the union membership is split on the decision.
Tom Grossman with the College of Aviation at Western Michigan University said airlines were caught in the middle of the mask debate.
“The topics of masks is so divisive amongst our population and you’re going to have people that are more than willing to comply with a mandate and you’re going to have people that object to that mandate,” Grossman said. “That’s the biggest challenge.”
Additional airlines have removed mask requirements since the ruling was announced. Aviation experts recommend passengers check the policy of the carrier and the airports they will be passing through before traveling.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would not appeal the ruling that ended the mandate unless the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes the measure is still necessary.