Top US airlines have told flight attendants they won't be required to police the wearing of face coverings during flights.
Most airlines now require passengers to cover up but once in the cabin they won't be forced to keep a face mask on.
Reuters reports flight attendants from American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines will encourage all passengers to wear coverings but will not strictly enforce it.
The airlines are trying to avoid in-flight conflict although this has the potential to cause friction between passengers not wearing masks and those that do.
However it is different on the ground where security personnel are available to enforce it.
All passengers will be forced to cover up when boarding a flight and may be denied boarding if they do not wear a mask.
"Once on board and off the gate, the face covering policy becomes more lenient. The flight attendant's role is informational, not enforcement, with respect to the face covering policy," American Airlines said in an internal memo to pilots.
United and Delta Air Lines confirmed similar policies to Reuters.
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Passengers on full or nearly full flights are now able to rebook or claim a travel credit if they prefer not to sit on a crowded plane.