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SEATTLE (AP) - Alaska Airlines says its flight attendants can issue warnings to passengers who refuse to wear a mask which could lead to them being banned from future flights.

Starting in early July, the airline will hand yellow cards to noncompliant passengers, advising them that it is their "final notice" and that a written report about them will be made, The Seattle Times reported. If a passenger continues to refuse, it will be noted in the report and a decision could be made to ban the passenger from future flights.

"Overwhelmingly, those who fly with us understand and appreciate the importance of wearing masks and face coverings during this time of COVID-19," a statement Tuesday on the airline's blog said. "Our flight crews encounter moments when some travelers disregard or disobey our mask requirement. It creates tension and anxiety for many of our passengers who do have their face coverings on. So, a change is needed."

Airline officials also said they understand some people cannot wear masks and exceptions are allowed in some cases.

Airlines nationwide have grappled with how to handle mask requirements and other complaints tied to social distancing. The Trump administration and federal regulators have left enforcement to individual airlines.

Although all airlines except Allegiant were requiring masks - and that airline will now mandate them starting July 2 - some have been less aggressive than others about enforcement.

(1) comment

EphrataResident

Alaska Airlines should have the right to require face masks, as it is a privately owned company.

But when people choose not to fly on Alaska Airlines for that reason, they should continue to be treated like a privately owned company and not receive any of my tax dollars as a bailout.

That's how the free market is supposed to work.

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