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United CEO: 'Very unlikely' mask mandate will return in the 'foreseeable future'

United Airlines' CEO thinks passengers won't be required to wear masks on planes again anytime soon — and those uncomfortable with that can get their money back. 

United CEO Scott Kirby spoke with the Today show after a federal judge struck down the CDC's transportation mask mandate, leading United to lift its masking requirement for domestic flights. The Justice Department is appealing the decision at the CDC's request, but Kirby told Today, "I think it's very unlikely that a mask requirement is going to come back anytime in the foreseeable future." 

He said passengers and employees "should feel free" to continue wearing masks if they choose. But for those customers who "are immunocompromised, or that have other concerns or issues" with the mask mandate being lifted, Kirby said the airline will work with them to "find another option, give them a credit, or, if they just really don't ever want to fly again, [we're] actually willing to give them a refund." 

Now that the mask mandate is lifted, United said Wednesday it would also allow "some customers who were previously banned for failing to comply with mask-related rules" to fly with the airline again. Today's Craig Melvin questioned Kirby on why the airline would "reward bad behavior," but he defended the policy, saying those rule-breaking customers were only banned for as long as the mask mandate was in effect. 

"We have talked to them individually," he said, "and many of them assure us that now that the mask mandate is off, everything is gonna be fine."