Biden mask mandate extends to private jet charters and terminals

By Doug Gollan, February 2, 2021

Friday’s late-night mask mandate following President Biden’s executive order extends to Part 135 private jet charter flights, including jet cards, FBOs, and begins at midnight tonight

(Updated) NetJets says the mask mandate doesn’t apply to its flights

Friday’s late-night mask mandate by the CDC following President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring masks to be worn in airports and on commercial airline flights extends to Part 135 charter operations and FBOs, according to a notice sent by the National Air Transportation Association.

Private Jet Card Comparisons reported on the possibility last week after the executive order. The order comes just days in advance of the Super Bowl, typically one of the busiest weekends for private jet flights

Earlier today, a spokesperson from the National Business Aviation Association told Private Jet Card Comparisons there was a 1 p.m. conference call with the Center for Disease Control to clarify the order’s scope.

According to the NATA notification, the CDC mask requirement applies to aviation facilities such as airports, FBOs, and commercial aircraft operations, including Part 135 operations. Part 135 flights include on-demand charters and jet cards. Not included are aircraft operating for their owner (Part 91). It is not clear about fractional owners (Part 91k).

(Updated at 9:59 PM EST on Feb. 1, 2021) An official from NBAA confirmed, “The new mandate will apply to passengers and crew on Part 135 aircraft, as well as anyone in an FBO.” He added, “We’ll publish an article tomorrow with more details, including outlining how the crew will be exempt while at their duty station when compliance may pose a safety risk. “

(Updated at 11:26 AM EST on Feb. 2, 2021) A post from the NBAA notes providers are expected to use their “best-effort” in enforcement. It continues, “Any person not complying with the mandate should be told noncompliance is a violation of federal law, should not be boarded on an aircraft or should be disembarked as soon as possible.”

[Find your best private aviation solution today by becoming a paid subscriber]

The order is effective on February 1, 2021, at 11:59 pm EST. All passengers traveling into, within, or out of the United States and operators of transportation hubs or any other area that provides transportation must be followed by all passengers traveling into, within, or out of the United States and operators of transportation hubs or any other area.

Private jet and FBO masking requirements

The NATA guidance indicates private jet and FBO operators “must use best efforts to ensure travelers are wearing masks covering both nose and mouth.”

The CDC order includes (Scroll down to download the full order):

  • Allowing entry to or boarding only those wearing masks
  • Monitoring and seeking compliance for those on-premises or onboard
  • Removing or disembarking, at the earliest opportunity, any person who refuses to wear a mask
  • Providing notification of requirement by Federal law on digital, print, audio, and other platforms

Exemptions for mask wearing, include:

  • Eating, drinking, or taking medications, for brief periods
  • Communicating with a person who is hearing impaired
  • Instances when wearing oxygen masks are needed due to loss of cabin pressure or other event affecting aircraft ventilation
  • Travelers who are unconscious (for reasons other than sleeping), incapacitated, unable to be awakened, or otherwise unable to move without assistance
  • Verifying a traveler’s identity such as through TSA screening or by a ticket or gate agent
  • Children under the age of 2 years
  • A person with a disability who can not safely wear a mask
  • A person for whom wearing a mask would pose a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by relevant federal regulations or workplace safety guidelines

What happens if you disobey?

The order can be enforced by the TSA and federal authorities and cooperating state and local authorities.

Passengers who disobey crew member instructions can face fines up to $35,000 per incidence.

The Order notes the CDC reserves the right to use criminal penalties as well. However, it adds, it “instead strongly encourages and anticipates widespread voluntary compliance as well as support from other federal agencies in implementing additional civil measures enforcing the provision of this order.”

Jet card updates

(Feb. 2, 2021) Jet Linx Aviation, which operates its own terminals in 19 markets, tells Private Jet Card Comparisons the mask mandate covers those facilities.

(Feb. 3, 2021) However, an executive from NetJets said the mask mandate doesn’t apply to their flights on behalf of fractional shareowners, lease, or jet card customers.

“Whether flying under (Part) 91 or 135 rules and no matter which product they have bought from NetJets, our customers have contracted with us for access to (a) private fleet of aircraft and are engaged in private aviation,” he said. 

He added that the mandate does apply to its private lounges on the ground.

It’s unclear if there will be any more industry efforts to negotiate exemptions.

Related Articles

Visit DG Amazing Experiences

Find the perfect solution for your private aviation needs

Make the right decision

If you want a program-by-program comparison of more than 500 products from more than 50 companies covering 65 points of differentiation and over 40,000 data points.