Cathay Pacific Relaxes Face Mask Rules for Business- and First-class Passengers

plane passenger sitting in first class

Flying in business and first class already comes with a host of extra perks, but Cathay Pacific is upping the ante by exempting these passengers from wearing face masks while in their seats in lie-flat mode.

According to Executive Traveller, the Hong Kong-based airline argues that the high enclosures surrounding its business- and first-class suites, along with the extra personal space that creates some distance between travelers, will help combat the airborne spread of COVID-19 between passengers.

In May 2020, Cathay Pacific began requiring all passengers to wear face masks throughout their entire trip, from airport check-in to lounges as well as during the flight. This new exemption for passengers in premium cabins was announced to crew members in an internal memo issued last week and later confirmed by an airline spokesperson, Executive Traveller reports.

In a media statement elaborating on the softened rules, the Cathay Pacific spokesperson said that "seats in first and business class are more spacious with partitions, and passengers are exempted when lying flat for sleep." The individual also emphasized that the aircrafts are equipped with filtration systems "capable of filtering 99.9999% of dust particles, including virus and bacteria."

It's all part of an effort to attract more customers during a time when airlines are struggling, and flying, especially long-haul journeys, is not advised and less appealing for many would-be travelers. Cathay Pacific isn't the only airline with more relaxed face mask rules for its business- and first-class passengers.

Qatar Airways also allows its business-class passengers to wear a mask "on board at their own discretion, as they enjoy more space and privacy," especially in the airline's Qsuites. Economy passengers, however, "are required to wear their face shield visor, in addition to their face mask or covering throughout the flight, except when they are served their meals or drinks."

Jessica Poitevien is a Travel Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but always on the lookout for the next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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