Flying in first class comes with lots of perks, but Cathay Pacific Airways is upping the ante during the pandemic by exempting wealthy passengers from wearing masks in certain situations, according to Executive Traveller.
The Hong Kong-based airliner created a waiver on wearing a mask for first class and business class travelers who are reclined in their seats. The new policy doesn't apply for economy seating as they must keep their masks on at all times.
In a statement, the carrier elaborated more on the mask-wearing exemption, arguing that "seats in first and business class are more spacious with partitions, and passengers are exempted when lying flat for sleep." The airline insisted that its aircraft fleet is equipped with air filtration systems "capable of filtering 99.9999% of dust particles, including virus and bacteria."
The move is all part of an effort to attract wealthy passengers. Airlines worldwide are greatly suffering after more than one year of flight restrictions.
Cathay Pacific is not the first airline to make this exception for wealthy first and business-class travelers; back in June, Qatar Airways said, "business class customers are asked to wear their face shield and mask onboard at their own discretion, as they enjoy more space and privacy."
... and what this shows is the rich and powerful, or at least anyone who can afford (put it on their credit card) a ticket at the front of the plane, may no longer need to abide by COVID rules (and "science") while everyone else in the economy class does. More or less a two-tiered system for COVID rules between rich and poor travelers seems to be developing.
While this exemption is in direct conflict with the CDC's new mandate on mask-wearing - don't expect these special exemptions for the US and European airlines.
Meanwhile, the US's wealthy elites have ditched first-class tickets and purchased private jets. Nevertheless, businesses travel will likely suffer a permanent decline due to the explosion of work-at-home and Zoom meetings.
Travel as we know it is rapidly evolving from pre-pandemic times of mainly business to an increasingly leisure-focus. With that being said, airlines are getting desperate and will continue to offer all sorts of perks to attract passengers.