Cathay Pacific Airways implements mask exemption for first-class and business travelers
February 21, 2021

A first-class seat in Cathay Pacific 777-300ER twinjets.

CHEK LAP KOK, HONG KONG — The Hong Kong flag carrier airline is joining the “rules for thee, not for me” doctrine with its new mask policy.

A leak internal memo advised crew members to stop enforcing mask mandates fir first and business class passengers. The memo, first reported by Executive Traveller, says the exemption applies “when a passenger is lying flat in business or first class.” A Cathay Pacific spokesperson clarified the new exemption in a statement.

“Seats in first and business class are more spacious with partitions. Passengers are exempted when lying flat for sleep,” the spokesperson said. The airline first mandated masks for all passengers on May 15, 2020. The new exemptions took effect earlier this month. All other passengers must wear masks at all times unless they are eating or drinking.

Qatar Airlines has a similar rule. Business class passenger wear masks onboard “at their own discretion.” All non-business class passengers are required to wear both masks and face shields at all times. All airline passengers are required to wear masks in the United States, pursuant to a White House Executive Order. First and business-class exemption are potential Fourteenth Amendment equal protection violations.

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