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Do I have to wear a mask on my flight? All the current UK airline rules

All the individual airline rules in the UK and Ireland right now

Lucy Thackray
Tuesday 19 July 2022 14:00 BST
EasyJet and Tui aircraft at Gatwick
EasyJet and Tui aircraft at Gatwick (Getty Images)

Most of the UK’s major airlines began easing their mask rules at slightly different paces back in spring 2022, making it slightly tricky to follow the current guidelines.

Several carriers have announced that face coverings will no longer be compulsory on all of their flights, but most still have a handful of routes on which you will have to wear them.

For some countries, a specific quality and style of mask is needed for flights, while for others, neither departure country nor the destination require one.

Meanwhile Heathrow Airport is no longer demanding people wear masks in its terminals (though, confusingly, it still recommends doing so).

The EU ended its bloc-wide mask mandate on 16 May, meaning it no longer requires all European airlines to demand masks, with carriers able to make their own rules; meanwhile in the US, the federal mask mandate was overturned on 19 April, meaning masks are now optional on all flights operating from and within the US.

So do you have to wear (or at least pack) a mask for your next flight?

Here’s the current situation across the UK and Ireland’s major airlines.


Only on flights to and from 10 destinations.

On 27 March easyJet relaxed rules to the point where masks are not mandatory on flights where neither the departure point nor the destination demands them. For example, with England and Iceland both having relaxed their Covid rules, passengers on London to Reykjavik planes can choose not to wear a mask (though they are welcome to, of course).

This “mask optional” policy now applies to all but 10 destinations listed on easyJet’s website. They are: Germany, Egypt, Jordan, Kosovo, Montenegro, Morocco, North Macedonia, Portugal, Spain, and Tunisia.

For Germany, this means “an FFP2 or medical-grade ​mask” specifically. For the others, a surgical-style or cloth face mask will do - easyJet specifies “no scarves, face visors or masks with valves”.

If you’re not flying to or from any of these countries on easyJet, you will have to mask up, whichever way you fly. And it’s worth packing one regardless in case of last-minute rule changes or a need for one at your arrival point. “Many of the countries we fly to still legally require that masks are worn and you may need one at the airport, at the gate and during your flight,” warns the airline.

British Airways

As with easyJet, masks are now optional on BA flights, except where the country you’re flying to or from demands them. It says: “As an international airline flying all around the world, we are obliged to ensure our customers continue to comply with local restrictions and meet the requirements of the destination they arrive at.”

This means that on flights from the UK to, say, Sweden or South Africa - where all remaining Covid restrictions have been dropped - BA no longer insists on compulsory mask-wearing, though passengers are welcome to continue wearing them. Meanwhile, for flights to and from countries that do demand masks, passengers will have to wear them for the whole flight and disembarkation process.

Countries that still require masks on public transport include Cyprus and Portugal; since rules in some destinations are changing as Covid cases surge, BA recommends that you check the local rules for your destination before you travel.

The carrier also suggests customers keep a mask handy, both for wearing when disembarking in their destination and in case of any last-minute rule changes.


On 1 March, Jet2 became the first UK airline to make masks optional on most of its flights. It announced that masks would no longer be mandatory “at our airports or onboard our aircraft”, but emphasises that it still recommends wearing on during a flight, adding that masks will need to be kept handy for arrival in some destinations.

It refers its passengers to the individual rules for their destination, saying: “If you fail to wear a face mask in some destinations, you could face a fine from the local authorities. Please check the FCDO website for more information.” Unlike some other airlines, its mask policy does not go into detail about individual mask rules in different countries. It does specify that a surgical-style or fitted reusable mask is required when they are needed to be worn, saying: “coverings such as scarves, snoods, balaclavas or similar items are a no-no”.


Since April, masks have been optional on Tui flights from the UK, with the airline still recommending passengers still wear them. “Face masks will no longer be a legal requirement on Tui Airways flights to/from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, however in line with UK government and EU Charter guidance, we strongly recommend that you still wear a mask throughout your flight,” reads its mask policy.

It indicates that masks may need to be brought to wear when arriving in a passenger’s destination, but leaves it up to the customer to find that out. As with easyJet, Tui emphasises that certain countries such as Italy require passengers six and over to wear an FPP2 style mask on flights to and from the country.

Virgin Atlantic

Following the US mask mandate being overturned on 19 April, Virgin’s mask policy was updated to say: “Face masks will be a personal choice for our customers and people travelling in either direction between the UK and the United States”.

The carrier is adding destinations to a list of “mask optional” countries as various nations relax their restrictions, with the current line-up reading: USA, Pakistan, Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, The Bahamas, Jamaica, St Vincent & The Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago and Tel Aviv.

However, masks must still be worn by anyone 12 and over on its flights to and from Delhi, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lagos, Mumbai and Shanghai. And you’ll still need a face mask handy for the other end of your journey. “Customers may be asked to wear a mask when boarding or disembarking flights, according to the regulations of the departure or arrival airport or destination country/US state,” reads its online policy.


Since 16 May, Ryanair has relaxed its mask policy on all but a few routes, with masks will be optional on all other routes. The Ireland-based carrier changed its mask policy in line with the updated advice from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which announced that the EU would drop its bloc-wide mask mandate from 16 May.

Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson said on 11 May: “We welcome this rule relaxation from EASA and the ECDC effective from Monday, 16 May next. From that date, face masks will be optional on all Ryanair flights except those flights to/from the EU States where masks remain mandatory on public transport.”

The airline directs you to the website where you can check individual rules on the ground for each destination they fly to.

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