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'Vast majority' of passengers at Austin airport go mask-free

There were almost no masks in sight around 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday. (Matt DeMario)

Masks are no longer be required on planes and public transportation after a federal judge in Florida struck the mandate down, meaning for the first time in more than two years, passengers at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport were able to go mask-free this week.

The airport released a statement on Monday saying ABIA encourages travelers to wear masks, in accordance with health advice issued by Austin Public Health and directs passengers to check mask status with their airline.

Major airlines Delta, Southwest, American, United, Frontier, and Alaska have said masks would no longer be required onboard all domestic and most international flights, noting that some cities, states and countries may still require masks in their airports.

What does the inside of ABIA look like now?

Richard Kane (left) decided to go without a mask when traveling from Austin this morning. (Matt DeMario)

Austinite Richard Kane flew to New Orleans for work on Wednesday morning, fully prepared to mask just like he did during his last flight in November. Kane said he wore his mask until he was about halfway through the TSA line but ultimately took it off when he realized the “vast majority” of people around him weren’t masking.

“I can’t say I’m one of those people that’s super anti-mask or anything but if you give me the choice, yeah, I’d prefer not to wear (a mask) assuming everyone is vaccinated and everyone has been following the other proper protocols,” Kane said.

The situation was about the same inside the plane, where Kane estimated about “10-20%” of people were wearing masks. Though he didn’t spend much time in the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, he didn’t notice any signage asking guests to mask.

Kane said he is immunocompromised due to diabetes but still felt safe to fly.

“That's something I have to watch out for but other than waiting in the security line, the Austin airport is so wide open,” Kane said. “I had COVID a couple of months ago, I’ve kind of been through that and I wasn’t too concerned with my trip today.”


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