United to extend mask rule to airport lounges, ticket counters

Passengers wishing to board a United Airlines flight will have to wear face masks at ticket counters and in its airport lounges, or risk a flight ban, the carrier said Wednesday.

United and all other major US carriers require passengers to wear masks during flights. United said that it is broadening mask requirements for passengers even before they board the plane.

As on planes, children under 2 are not required to be masked, nor are passengers who have a health condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.

On Tuesday, United, which like other airlines is finding itself overstaffed amid the COVID-19 crisis — reported a $1.6 billion loss during the normally strong second quarter, as revenue plunged 89 percent from the same period last year. The airline also said its daily cash burn rate will drop from from $40 million to $15 million to $20 million in the fourth quarter.

Air travel was slowly recovering before it stalled in the last few weeks as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US surged, especially in the South. About 530,000 people went through security checkpoints at US airports on Tuesday, the lowest number in July other than the July 4 holiday.

Falling demand may lead to lower ticket prices. United CEO Scott Kirby told CNBC that he expects fares to decline in the short run.

Kirby and other United executives are expected talk about the company’s outlook and the results from the most recent quarter Wednesday.

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