The ultimate guide to masks: Where travelers must wear them

Flight attendants wear masks to limit spread of the coronavirus at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX in Los Angeles.
Flight attendants wear masks to limit spread of the coronavirus at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX in Los Angeles.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Get ready to make sure you cover up before you go to LAX or hop on a bus. Face masks and cloth coverings are or soon will be required for anyone entering local airports, boarding and flying most commercial airliners, or riding Amtrak trains and on local buses and trains.

It’s all about limiting spread of the coronavirus. As of Thursday, L.A. County reported 61,901 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,523 deaths (although the true number of infected people is unknown and likely much higher). In mid-April, the county started requiring residents to wear face coverings.

Just because you’re antsy, L.A. County officials say, that doesn’t make your trip essential.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends cloth coverings that fit snugly over your mouth and nose to stop your germs from potentially infecting others. The mask should be secured by ties or ear loops, the agency said, and not restrict breathing.

Those who are exempt include “young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.” Check CDC rules about masks and how to make one. And don’t forget to social distance, wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer too.


In a pinch, a T-shirt can be used to create a no-sew mask to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Here are places now requiring face coverings.

Major airlines now require passengers and crew members to wear masks onboard planes. United, for example, says passengers will be required to wear masks for the “foreseeable future.”

“We recommend our customers bring their own from home,” said United spokesman Josh Earnest. “If they don’t bring it or don’t have one, we’ll give them one.” Passengers are expected to wear their mask for the entire flight, removing it only to sip a beverage or eat.

Airlines also are disinfecting planes inside and out more frequently, boarding passengers from the back of the plane to the front (to minimize contact with others), and allowing passengers to social distance depending on how many fliers are on the plane.

When we venture out again, will we first turn to the all-American road trip? Will it be safe? Here’s what effect the coronavirus will have.

Los Angeles International Airport starting Monday will require travelers to wear a mask or face cloths. Ontario International Airport in San Bernardino County also requires them.

Transportation Security Administration agents at checkpoints are required to wear masks to protect their nose and mouth, according to an agency announcement Thursday.

The agency also asks passengers to lower their facial covering for ID purposes or if the covering sets off an alarm.

What happens if you need hands-on screening? Stay tuned for coming changes related to social distancing during the screening process. “TSA is considering further changes to its screening system to further minimize the risk and to limit physical interactions in the security checkpoint,” the announcement said.

Amtrak announced it also would require customers and employees to wear face coverings in stations and on trains starting Monday. The rail operator expects passengers to keep their nose and mouth covered during the ride, with a few exceptions, such as eating. .

Amtrak also is liming coach and business capacity by 50% and moving toward cashless transactions to help curb the spread of coronavirus. Also, seating in dining and cafe areas is limited.

Greyhound also is requiring masks or face coverings for passengers nationwide. “Customers who do not have a face covering, or if their covering is damaged in transit, are asked to speak with their driver or a Greyhound terminal employee and a disposable mask will be provided,” a company announcement said. The bus operator also is sanitizing buses between trips

Metro bus and train passengers will require face coverings starting Monday. “In addition, Metro will be looking at ways the agency can help riders obtain face coverings while protecting our own supply of coverings that are needed for our employees,” the website says.