Airlines Remove Face Mask Policy Loopholes

Filed Under: American, Southwest

Up until this point Delta has been leading major US airlines when it comes to enforcing its mask policies, though both American and Southwest have just taken their policies to the next level. Get ready for people to start threatening lawsuits…

American & Southwest eliminate medical exemptions for masks

Both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have been requiring passengers to wear face coverings for several weeks now. However, enforcement has been getting progressively better.

Up until now, both airlines have had a fairly open-ended policy — masks don’t need to be worn by people “with conditions that prevent them from wearing a face mask.”

That has been left open to interpretation, but both airlines are now adopting a much stricter policy. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines will both only exempt those under two years old from wearing masks, as of July 29 and July 27, respectively.

Everyone else will have to wear a mask, even if they claim to have a condition that prevents them from doing so.

American has eliminated medical exemptions for its mask policy

What Southwest Airlines is telling employees

View from the Wing notes an internal Southwest Airlines document making this policy explicit:

Due to the Safety risk posed by someone not wearing a mask, we are not able to allow any other exemptions at this time, including those for disabilities or medical conditions. If a Customer cannot travel safely while wearing a mask, the Customer will be refused transportation.

In other words, effective July 27, 2020, if a Customer is unable to wear a face covering for any reason (even a verifiable disability or medical condition), we regret that we will be unable to transport him/her at this time, due to the safety risk of COVID-19 transmission by Customers without face coverings. This includes any Customer who is unable to remove the mask without assistance.


Southwest has eliminated medical exemptions for its mask policy

This sure makes things easier…

In the US we sure love to sue, and we sure love freedom. The combination of those two things hasn’t been great when it comes to getting the population to wear masks.

We know we’re not supposed to ask people what their medical conditions are, and largely that’s for good reason. However, I think it’s safe to say that “freedom” and “the Constitution” and a desire to use “God’s breathing system” all aren’t scientifically-backed conditions.

I’m no medical expert, though I have spoken to more than one medical doctor who has explained that if you can fly on a plane, you can also wear a loose face covering. But then I also see a bunch of people on Facebook who say that’s not true, so I’m really not sure what to believe anymore… 😉

The further challenge has been that not wearing a mask puts those around you at increased risk. To what extent should the safety of other people be compromised to accommodate the conditions of others?

That brings us to the next point…

“That’s illegal, I’m going to sue the airlines!”

No doubt we’ll soon hear threats of people suing airlines, claiming that this is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Well, as it turns out, the airlines are within their rights here.

Live and Let’s Fly has a good rundown of the situation, and why this is legal. What has to be looked at here is the Air Carrier Access Act. While airlines aren’t allowed to discriminate on the basis of disabilities, they are allowed to refuse transportation to people on the basis of disability if that person would be inimical to the safety of the flight:

“While airlines may not refuse transportation to people on the basis of disability, airlines may exclude anyone from a flight if carrying the person would be inimical to the safety of the flight. If a carrier excludes a person with a disability on safety grounds, the carrier must provide a written explanation of the decision.”

Here’s how the decision making process for airlines is described in more detail:

(1) You can determine that there is a disability-related safety basis for refusing to provide transportation to a passenger with a disability if you are able to demonstrate that the passenger poses a direct threat. In determining whether an individual poses a direct threat, you must make an individualized assessment, based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or on the best available objective evidence, to ascertain:

(i) The nature, duration, and severity of the risk;

(ii) The probability that the potential harm to the health and safety of others will actually occur; and

(iii) Whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures will mitigate the risk.

(2) If you determine that the passenger does pose a direct threat, you must select the least restrictive response from the point of view of the passenger, consistent with protecting the health and safety of others. For example, you must not refuse transportation to the passenger if you can protect the health and safety of others by means short of a refusal.

Based on this, airlines sure do seem to be allowed to deny transportation over refusal to wear a mask, even if there is a medical condition. After all, transporting someone without a mask does pose a threat to other people on the plane.

Bottom line

We’re now seeing two major US airlines require all passengers two years of age and older to wear face coverings. There are no longer exclusions for those who claim to have medical issues.

I’m sure some will threaten to sue airlines, and will also claim that this is an ADA violation, though the regulations suggest that’s not the case. I also have to imagine the legal departments of airlines studied this very closely before making a policy change.

Comments
  1. Fantastic news! If you’re not fit enough to wear a mask you’re obviously not fit enough to fly during a major pandemic plus you’ll be a major safety risk towards other passengers.

    Wearing a face mask is a matter of public health and safety!

  2. It’s really simple.

    If you’re blind, you can’t drive.
    If you’re unable to wear a mask, you can’t fly.

    Come on.

  3. Ben, as has been noted in comments in your prior posts, the ADA doesn’t even apply on board commercial aircraft. The CFR that Matt K. cites rolls up to the Air Carrier Access Act, which is the only set of regulations that applies. Makes the armchair legal argle-bargling all the more ridiculous.

  4. Typo: read sentence before Bottom Line heading.

    For the people who sue, how many are real and how many are troublemakers?

    The only reason I can imagine as true medical reasons are those who are crazy. If you get a rash, change brands of mask or replace the mask with a fresh one. If you have asthma, you really need a mask or can die from Covid.

    Kids who are 3 can wear masks but may be naughty and rip them off. But then, naughty kids who keep kicking the seat should be removed.

  5. The whole idea of Americans rambling on about a constitution that was written 200+ years ago is one of the biggest downfalls of the US. Anyone will cite the constitution in whatever way they feel that helps their (usually wrong) argument.
    Once the US realize that shooting people, suing people, bearing arms and racism isn’t acceptable the sooner the country will prosper.

  6. Is it illegal to ban people who need an alcoholic drink? After all, drunks need it or they get delirium tremors. Alcoholics sue the airlines and win money

  7. Hell hath no fury like the ADA scorned. If I happily wear a mask, have no arms to remove my own mask (maybe because I lost them in Iraq) I can no longer fly Southwest, even with the presence of a caretaker to assist me? That ain’t right.

  8. A bit louder for the people in the bleachers: ADA DOES NOT APPLY ON BOARD COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT.

  9. Maybe Delta should also do something about their own employees who refuse or fail to wear a mask. Just walk around LGA and you can see plenty of Delta employees with masks on their chin or no mask at all. Just saying.

  10. @GoAmtrak that’s ON BOARD. To deny boarding, it must be an INDIVIDUALIZED assessment. That means making broad rules, as it appears WN is doing, is not permissible.

  11. That it has taken this long to do something this obvious is an indictment of just how badly we’ve handled this pandemic. Better late than never I suppose. There is no legitimate excuse to avoid wearing a mask. They do not affect breathing. People with asthma, COPD and many other respiratory problems wear masks all the time as a preventative measure, even prior to this outbreak. The only disability you have if you think the ADA somehow excuses you from this is in your head.

    In general, I think the gloves need to come off when it comes to dealing with people who still refuse to wear masks. We’ve tried being encouraging, now it is time to get nasty. Allow people to sue anti maskers for attempted assault and publicly identify, name and shame people who still refuse to comply. Make sure their employers know it too.

  12. Finally! In addition, while more regulated than many private businesses, likely same approach applies as it does to retailers, hotels etc. i.e., it’s a private business, they can set whatever rules they want, so long as they’re not discriminatory

  13. @ GoAmtrak — +1 The ADA also protects people with disabilities from discrimination by providing guidelines for reasonable and alternative accommodation. A poor attitude, while limiting, is not a disability.

  14. People still seem to miss the point that wearing masks is not about them, it is about others! Saying that you need a mask exemption for medical reasons doesn’t change the fact that you could then spread COVID-19 to other people around you. If you can’t wear a mask, you should be staying in your home.

    People also forget that ADA doesn’t apply if it causes an undue burden on a business. So even businesses on the ground may be easily able to argue that a lack of masks endangers their employees and other customers, so they can require 100% of people to wear them.

    I personally know people with asthma, chronic emphysema, panic disorder, and all sorts of trauma histories that have said they can suck it up and wear masks. Most people saying they can’t are exaggerating and selfish.

  15. Its not a violation of their rights. There are no other less restrictive alternative available. I’m totally ok with this, because without a doubt people would lie about medical conditions to avoid wearing the mask. I’m sure someone will file a lawsuit and i’m concerned that we could get a judge that refuses to follow the law and who tries to invalidate all mask orders or some nonsense.

  16. @Phillip-

    The same reason why they cherry-pick the Bible verses that suit their agenda. If these people were any simpler, they’d need to be watered everyday.

  17. Doesn’t a handicap person pose a threat on the plane? If there’s an emergency and they can’t get out of their seat without assistance isn’t that a threat to everyone else in that row

  18. Still ways to get around it without having to claim a medical condition. And the fact that they require 2 year old to wear a mask is ridiculous. My little one kept hers on for about 20 seconds last week when we went to the zoo so I’m sure this will go similarly when we fly next week.

  19. @Sel,D

    Hypothetically exaggerated anecdotes for argument’s sake are silly. How did your veteran get through TSA and pull out his ID? How’d he hold his boarding pass or phone to board? How did he carry his carry-on or how will he claim his checked bag? I’m sure however he does all of those things, is however he will be able to take on and off his mask to sip his bottled water.

  20. I’m still curious as to how they enforce people to wear masks after they board/ flight takes off.

    Not allowing to fly is great to get people to wear masks when they are boarding but it’s not like you can kick them off the plane if they don’t keep the mask on during the flight.

  21. Finally some sense over in the US. Unlike most Facebook experts, I am actually a doctor and I can confirm that there is no respiratory condition that prevents one from wearing a mask.

    These are the only possible conditions that spring to mind that might make wearing a mask difficult:

    1) Polypropylene allergy. But they could use a cotton mask instead of disposable SMS masks.
    2) Fresh facial burns or severe inflammatory skin condition on the face that would make wearing a mask painful.
    3) Some mental health conditions and learning disabilities.

    If they have these and they really believe they can’t wear a mask then they can’t fly (commercially). It’s not a right to fly. Just the same as if someone finds airline seatbelts restrictive for “medical reasons” they can’t fly.

    I don’t understand the whole freedom complaint. One has to wear a seatbelt and put seatbelts on their children when driving. Is that taking away someone’s freedom? Same goes for having to wear clothing covering your genitals in front of public and children. Is that against freedom?

    Using their same reasoning, most laws would be considered to be a removal of freedom.

    Anyway, looks like a move in the right direction for a country that is really struggling at the moment.

  22. @Skaner

    Maybe don’t fly? It’s your job to keep your kid in line. Not everyone else’s. And no, I don’t give shit how silly you think that is. You’re the parent, keep your shit together or don’t have kids.

  23. Most people don’t even listen to a doctor about their own health. You expect them to listen to a doctor about a mask? Lol, ask someone when’s the last time they’ve had a checkup or had their blood pressure taken. Obese ass nation. Wear a damn mask.

  24. Its simple. A business has a policy due to the current crisis. In some cases it’s mandated by the national government. Even some Americans and others believe that if they are in another country , the law doesn’t apply to them

    Years ago , I recall an American at Heathrow referring to the constitution when she was asked by border control for more evidence relating to her stay

    Karen raised her voice hence everyone knew what she was saying and was escorted away by security

    If you don’t like it , then charter an aircraft , drive or stay at home

  25. People threaten lawsuits for a ton of things but in reality most are never filed since they don’t they won’t win and others are often quickly tossed. People think they know a lot more about their rights and laws than they actually do.

    I’m still waiting for someone to file and win a lawsuit about the AA account shutdowns. I think most of those folks will be on the losing side of any lawsuit.

    The anti-mask people use the same stupid argument smokers did and it still is wrong. The smokers when states/cities started to eliminate smoking in bars/restaurants would say “It is my right to smoke and if you don’t like it, then stay home”.

    They refuse to acknowledge it wasn’t a right, and you going out and doing something that can seriously harm the health of others is not acceptable. If you want to stay home and do something harmful to yourself it is one thing but going out and risking other people’s health is not acceptable.

    The ant-mask people are similarly stupid and pig headed. And now their illustrious leader is wearing a mask at times. That must really blow their minds.

  26. There has certainly been a learning curve to the past few months and trying to collect as much information as possible on this. I fall in the mask category of, 1- dont feel they work or dont work . Sources and proving either point have not compelled me to have a solid on any direction (not looking to debate). This has become way too political on both sides as well. That said, the wife and I respect all requirements (aside from obvious abilities to stay away from people beyond a safe distance) of mask mandates now and never will create issues or refute rights (that is ridiculous). They arent terrible to wear (cloth- by far preferred). Let’s all get through this together, draw conclusions at the end and learn. Name calling wont help the ones crying over their infringed rights or the ones crying over their infringed safety change their minds/opinions. Be safe, all!

  27. I laud the decision by Southwest. As many have said, there really aren’t legitimate reasons to be unmasked and our country has been very slow to respond and we’re seeing the results.

  28. @MG – I’m surprised that you’re on the fence about science after collecting as much information as possible. Medical and public health experts have varied perspectives on the extent to which masks are effective, but there’s undeniable consensus that they are an important factor in slowing down or preventing the spread.

    Nevertheless, KUDOS for being a willful participant of a civil society. In fact, it’s truly worth commending someone who doesn’t believe in something but still does his part for the greater good. There will be times when each one of us has doubts about a public policy, but the respect for the majority’s decision based on expert recommendations is the spirit that we need in a functional democracy.

  29. @Peter,
    I am keeping politics and instigating statements out of my responses as they do nothing to improve and collectively compile a resolution/solution to health/safety/freedoms commonly brought up now. I actually think there are more like myself than what is commonly perceived with my view. I never mentioned not believing in ‘science’. Experts/scientists and opinions due to ongoing knowledge being collected every day is the best way to get to our best case scenario. We can all dig into examples of our lives to contradict our current views and opinions. They are worth listening to, while also keeping in mind that this is new for everyone. It is you opinion to say I am a non believer, which I respect, but that is not true. I simply like as much conclusive, non expedited findings provided prior to making a decision. Trial and error happens with science and I am open to discussion on how we can all make the best of this scenario.

  30. Did airlines remove the loophole that permits people to satisfy the mask requirement by wearing one that contains unfiltered exhalation vents? In the event the wearer is infected with a virus, these aren’t effective at maintaining a sterile field.

  31. When you live with your parents they have house rules, not happy with the rules?? Are you going to sue your parents?? Either get out or comply with the rules.

  32. I do support these policies but have there been any known & verified cases of COVID transmission on an airplane through contact tracing?…just curious.

  33. I’m looking closely at these airlines to see who is enforcing the masks rules. The airlines with the strictest policy will get my business after the pandemic is over and I can start traveling again for business and leisure trips. So far I have WN and DL in the running. (Not going to fly AA) From what I’ve seen so far and disappointingly, AS has not enforced the mask rule much.

  34. @Realist1k WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. All of those things. But has to be able to remove the mask WITHOUT assistance – keep up. I understand my example is far-fetched, but it’s what the ADA will argue.

  35. I’m trying hard to come up with something trollish and unhelpful to say, but I’m feeling really uninspired.

  36. Saw on the news yesterday about people who were now willing to travel while sick because they figured everybody had a mask, so they wouldn’t have to worry or feel bad about spreading (the masks were keepong everyone safe). I actually agree with them, if the masks are so effective, then there seems to be no need to quarantine any longer.

  37. With judicial activism I would not be surprised if a federal judge somewhere says the airlines are going too far. The change in policy also begs the question: Are Flight Attendants going to start policing how long it takes for pax to eat and drink as well as how many times during the flight pax eat and drink. Also if a pax develops trouble breathing and passes out and a flight is diverted it would be VERY expensive for the airline and a PR nightmare.

  38. I can’t fathom how a parent could subject their child to potential virus exposure on a plane? I would like to see children under 2 wear a mask as well since they carry the virus as well.

    Parents need to parent, otherwise stay home.

  39. This is great news and the kind of change that will get me on a plane sooner rather than later.

  40. Frankly I am one of the people that struggle to wear a mask. I order in groceries etc. I barely leave my home. I have such horrible panic attacks that I have passed out. My fiance is in England and I haven’t been able to see him in months. This a postponed marriage etc. So I’m sorry if I offend anyone but since infants can carry covid then no children should be permitted to fly regardless of age if unable to wear a mask either. Goose and gander. How about we simply do like Emirates airlines and do the 5 minute test and if you are positive you can’t fly? Why cause unnecessary grief and drama with masks? It is a contentious issue and this would solve all of it? I am simply throwing out a suggestion. I am not interested in backlash. And yes I am a parent and I also know I would struggle to keep a facemask on a child..and I also know an infant cannot wear one. I was simply making a point. I think we are going down a road that doesn’t need to happen. If you have to have a surgery and you get a covid test 3 days prior to surgery and again on the surgery date. Why are we not adopting this protocol?

  41. @RonaldoDiaz You are taking mask wearing out of context. No one is saying wearing masks are a panacea. No one is saying masks are super effective because no studies have shown wearing a mask by itself is enough to prevent the spread of Covid. Wearing masks are only one part of the attempt to help get this pandemic under control. Social distancing and keeping hands clean are in the equation with keeping hands clean probably the biggest help of all of them. Think of it like wearing a seat belt, keeping your brakes working, and using your headlights when you drive at night. They all help to keep you safer when you drive.

  42. Ronaldo Diaz wrote
    “ if the masks are so effective, then there seems to be no need to quarantine any longer”

    Nobody said masks are “so effective” that they will eliminate the risk of COVID

    They are part of an Arsenal we need to use to reduce COVID spread. A part. Not the whole.

    Masks plus physical distancing plus quarantine for ill people plus contact tracing plus a vaccine plus more effective medical treatment is what’s needed

    But we still don’t have treatment, a vaccine, or the ability to effectively contact trace

  43. I just don’t understand these anti-maskers. It’s like they’ve tossed out all common sense just to be contrarian.

    No, masks doesn’t mean you should go out more, or not social distance, or go out even if you’re sick. Does a seat belt mean you can drink and drive? Or not need airbags? Or not need to obey the rules of traffic?

    Follow common sense if you’re eating and drinking. If you need an hour to finish a drink, you’re probably taking a lot of down time in between sips so the mask goes back on.

    Don’t be an idiot.

  44. I think 95% of passengers can wear a mask, but people with legitimate disabilities preventing mask use but can travel (issues with breathing, sensory problems) are basically being refused service. There are other ways to accommodate including seating people who cannot wear masks together in the back of the plane and allowing them to board first and deplane last, or have flights designated for people with disabilities who cannot mask. Allowing people to refuse mask wearing for no reason is stupid, but if I have a doctor’s note, it should stick. Refusing altogether I think is not going to stand up in court.

  45. @Jan –

    And if you can’t walk up the stairs, don’t go in the building.

    Really? Do I think most mask refusers have no legitimate basis for refusing? Yes. Do I think SOME allowance or accommodation needs to be made for these folks? Also yes.

  46. This is BLOODY STUPID.

    A FACE SHIELD will properly protect everyone – but a face mask is just BLING unless they are medical grade N95 which either are not available or are being taken from a supply that should be sent to health care workers.

    Once again politics not supported by any science. A mask *may* help but only if properly fitted, properly used and you are infectious. A face shield is non-porus so will deflect anything.

    I do not see how the airlines can get around the ‘persons with disabilities’ act. Having reduced lung capacity is not a self-inflicted disability but is definitely age related. It sounds like all the bloggers on this site are under 40.

    Have some sense people. It isn’t a silver bullet to wear a cloth mask. It is useless and does not make anyone safe. Like wearing a condom with holes already inserted.

  47. @Azamaraal unfortunately science is not on your side, exactly. Please take a look at any of the videos posted by relevant medical authorities. The videos will help you to visualize exactly how effective masks are in preventing droplets (which are the main transmission route) from escaping. If you are talking about the actual virus itself, for instance exhaled through the nose on its own without the benefit of a droplet to carry it off, then yes there are certain masks that are less effective in preventing its voyage (gauze masks, some cotton masks and those ridiculous for Covid vented masks).

    A mask *does* help in the most common forms of transmission. It’s a fact.

  48. @Realist

    You can get mad all you want but I won’t force my 2 year old to wear a mask and I wont wear one either continuously on an 8 hour flight.

  49. @Ross has a good point. As soon as drinks or snacks are served, then people aren’t wearing masks.

  50. Major problem with the “this is legal” mentality. These Airlines have made a blanket “no medical exemption” rule. The Air Carriers Access Act requires a “individual assessment” be done. Southwest and American have just entered a blanket policy. No individual consideration being applied. A person with a legit disability is going to be denied. When that happens the Airlines will be sued and they will lose.

  51. @Azamaraal
    “Once again politics not supported by any science. A mask *may* help but only if properly fitted, properly used and you are infectious.

    It isn’t a silver bullet to wear a cloth mask. It is useless and does not make anyone safe.”

    You are kinda all over the place here. You say masks are not supported by science, useless and do not improve safety but then you say that they may help.

    You are correct that the main benefit with masks is thought to be when worn by someone is infected, whether they know it or not. And definitely nobody at all is saying that masks are a silver bullet. At best they help reduce the spread of the virus.

    Anyway, here is the science:
    https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2020/06/417906/still-confused-about-masks-heres-science-behind-how-face-masks-prevent

  52. Unfortunately, a person not wearing a mask does not necessarily pose a direct threat. An uninfected person has a 0% probability of spreading SARS-CoV-2, even when not wearing a mask, and can therefore not possibly pose a direct threat. To restate the policy:

    You can determine that there is a disability-related safety basis for refusing to provide transportation to a passenger with a disability if you are able to demonstrate that the passenger poses a direct threat. In determining whether an individual poses a direct threat, you must make an individualized assessment, based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or on the best available objective evidence…

    This means the airline would need to prove that the disabled, unmasked individual tests positive for SARS-CoV-2. If a passenger was denied boarding under these circumstances, then chose to undergo immediate molecular testing for SARS-CoV-2, and the results were negative, a lawsuit could definitely be in order.

  53. Am I going to be kicked off the plane for putting a blanket over myself and taking off the mask under the blanket?

  54. Posters like Skaner are the reason why America is collapsing due to the coronavirus. Look at countries like Italy, Spain, China, Japan, India and quite a few others. Everyone there wears masks and that is why they were affected so much less by the coronavirus. Maybe too much freedom is not that good a thing after all ?
    At least airlines are now following the science and implementing rules based on the science

  55. I don’t understand why an airline needs exceptions to this policy at all. Exceptions suggest the policy is not universally applicable, effective, or is otherwise flawed in some way. Any entity capable of wearing a mask should wear one continuously from the time they step on the plane to the time they step off. There should be no exceptions for infants, animals, people with disabilities, drinking, eating, sleeping, or even using the lavatory.

    Many people have cast the freedom to not wear a mask as no different than a smoker’s freedom to smoke in public. Well, if this analogy is legitimate, and there is absolutely no exception for smoking on an airplane, there can be absolutely no exceptions for not wearing a mask on an airplane as well.

  56. So from what most people are saying then this situation would be ok correct?

    A person wants to fly but has a “condition” that causes them to have to travel with an emotional support animal(pick your type of animal). There are 5 people on the plane that have allergies that can be triggered by this particular type of animal which could cause a medical event up to and including death. Does this mean that the airline will kick off the person with the emotional support animal? Does these mean that the airlines should ban anyone who claims they need a emotional support animal for their particular mental illness because their particular animal may pose a risk to other passengers?

  57. @Roger – except it’s not at all like that. A smoker can choose to quit, or they can wear patches or take medications to deal with no smoke breaks. Some people legitimately CANNOT wear a mask as it is more dangerous to wear one than not or they cannot tolerate it. There are other accommodations airlines could make for these people – special section of aircraft, or mask optional flights with a waiver, or even requiring a COVID test pre-boarding. I’d accept any of those things – yes they are inconvenient but it’s a reasonable accommodation.

  58. @Alan, my boyfriend is an airline pilot and believe me if someone acts up after they’ve taken off he will turn around real quick, land the plane and boot them off the plane. Or he will divert to another airport land the plane and boot them off the plane. It’s what they do in case of emergencies or if someone is acting crazy on the plane and not obeying the rules. He also will get up come out of the cockpit to talk to the person and he’s pretty pissed off if he has to do that.

  59. I just flew to Mexico on SW wearing a mask and a shield and gloves. I’m African American and 61 years old, my mother is 90 and has a bunch of conditions where COVID would kill her. Yes people took off the masks for the snack and water but put them back on afterworlds. Most people had their own row. There are no blankets they’re gone. As are extra pillows in hotels. So antimasker you can’t take it off under blanket unless it’s yours. If we can’t see your face fine, but if you have it out you better mask up. I came home and tested negative. I flew to Aruba on Delta same coverings. Aruba won’t let you into the country without a negative test uploaded 72 hours before departure. They have a checklist and want to see your letter saying you have a negative per test when you arrive, then they take your temperature. Any of those things don’t match up they’re going to quarantine you and test you and it’s gonna cost you $75 for the test. You can quarantine at your resort for 24 hours and they are monitoring you. They are plexiglass shields at the airports in Mexico and in Aruba.

  60. @YYCGuy
    “Some people legitimately CANNOT wear a mask as it is more dangerous to wear one than not or they cannot tolerate it.”

    If someone has a genuine underlying medical condition that makes it impossible to wear a mask they probably should not be doing something as risky as flying right now – as such a condition would likely put them in the highest risk group for death or serious illness when contracting covid.

    I think the likely reality is that most of the people claiming a medical exception just didn’t want to wear a mask.

    For those with a genuine medical condition that means they cannot wear a mask, who still need to fly, some kind of accommodation probably should be made. I think Delta is the only one who has come up with anything reasonable so far. Rapid, reliable covid testing is not currently available afaik.

  61. Every one of you with your pretentious fake Haughty attitude are sheep. You confirm to something that HAS NOT PROVEN ITSELF 100% FACTUALLY True. If anyone of you dares negatively comment about someone who chooses to Cite the Constitution as a defense, your words are truly unvalued. You are Unpatriotic, based off facts that you are being lied to about.

  62. Only Americans are entitled enough to believe commercial air transportation is a “God given” or “Constitutional” right.

    Can’t wear a mask? Unlucky. Stay home, drive or charter a private plane.

  63. Having flown an 8 hour flight with a companion dog the size of a pony onboard, will they require dogs to wear masks? In my humble opinion, the pony/dog shouldn’t fly with or without masks.

  64. To anyone saying the ADA doesn’t apply aboard aircraft, you’re wrong. American Airlines has been sued MANY times within the past three years alone for ADA violations, and in one case had to shell out roughly $10,000,000 USD. At least Delta and United are providing accommodations for legitimate conditions, and while their accommodations seem to be a PITA, they are at least reaching out to people with truly applicable disabilities. Completely saying: “Too bad, you can’t fly” is an absolute refusal to accommodate, and being that air travel is in fact one of a few necessary methods for going certain places, or even traveling to medical appointments which cannot be delayed, this new policy actually represents a tremendous opportunity for a hungry attorney to make a name for themselves.

    Btw, I can’t wait to see this nonsense happening every flu season. People have really just lost their minds, and quite frankly if the airlines actually cared about safety they’d just fly with fewer passengers which allows for more distancing measures to be implemented as well as an aircraft which is far easier to sanitize. Either way, many of the policies being implemented within this past month actually make no logical sense whatsoever, and it’s somewhat laughable that the particular airlines in question would point to CDC guidelines while not even fully adhering to them (Yes, the CDC specifically states that certain people should NOT wear a mask). People have soured on these airlines for quite sometime due to how they treat passengers and crew members alike, and it’s no wonder they’ve lost so much money recently given their horrible history of such. Without their bailouts, they’d currently be broke, and rightfully so.

    I actually have a great deal of experience with many people who are covered under the legitimate exceptions to these sort of policies (Including hospital oriented experience), some are sensory in nature while others are pulmonary. These exceptions are true, and legitimate. Of course people have abused the concept, but you can easily find ways to cut down on the abuse if necessary while still providing an accommodation (As Delta and United have done). Personally, many of the people I know with legitimate exemptions actually travel with verified medical documentation and have done so for many years, as it eases the process especially during international travel. You can easily just require such documentation and provide a penalty if caught lying or forging it (As some have also done). There is simply no reason to refuse accommodations, especially when you consider the fact that some people, ESPECIALLY those whom the exemptions apply to, actually must fly between locations for completely necessary medical appointments. This isn’t always about simply wanting to go on an optional vacation, because we all know that air travel applies to many scenarios in life. Therefore, show some compassion and understanding for people, especially when you don’t understand what they’re going through.

    All the best, folks.

  65. @Eric Ling
    If you think everyone in Europe is wearing masks you’re delusional. Read an article this week that on the german rail where masks are mandatory, the compliance rate is about 50%.

  66. Do these crackpots really think their outlandish examples and thousand word diarrhea are going to convince anyone who isn’t already an anti-masker?

  67. I am so ready for this to go to the courts. I want it all the way to the Supreme Court so it’s settled and we can move on to more important issues.

  68. Guys, if there are patients ill enough who cannot wear a mask (???) and they need to fly (???), the medical professionals around you would probably advise you and your loved ones not to fly commercial. They would probably do a Medevac flight. In which case all of the above info on commercial flying is completely irrelevant to the patient.

    Yes, medical evacuation flights are services that exist in this world globally.

  69. @RK

    Thanks for the reply.

    The devil is in the details. I stated “Once again politics not supported by any science. A mask *may* help but only if properly fitted, properly used and you are infectious.”

    1. properly fitted – not just the blue thing you get from a box that doesn’t have a nose-piece
    2. properly used – I’ve not seen a mask properly used in the 10 years since SARs by any passenger or even most flight attendants (I fly through HKG, PVG, TPE, SIN, PEK, NRT, HND a half dozen times a year)
    3. if you are infectious – goes without saying that it *might* help if you are infectious by reducing the distance of the spray

    Every u-tube shows how to make a mask from your underwear. These masks are still valid as far as I know in satisfying the requirement to wear a mask. They do nothing.

    The sad statistic is the large number of properly trained health care workers who are catching Covid even though they are using proper N95 medical grade masks, know how to use them and change them every few hours. So how is a 10 cent disposable piece of paper improperly used in a metal can for 16 hours going to protect anyone in reality?

    If you depend on a silver bullet it is a false sense of security. The only winner is the silver mine.

    A face shield answers most of the above objections to the mask. It is what should be mandatory then we would not be discussing whether a person with emphysema should be flying.

  70. I am not an anti-masker. I am a pro-shielder. I’m for anything that makes sense on a long flight.

    Another thought that hasn’t been mentioned on this thread is the constant removing and reinstalling masks. People are taking the masks on and off when they eat, drink or whatever. Suppose that the mask is working and is covered with covid. You don’t know it because there is no big sign saying “covid infected”. So the mask goes on the table top, your pocket but definitely NOT the Safe Disposal Bin where it has to go. It infects every surface you touch and the next passenger to come along.

    Lunch finished, back on goes the mask handled by your lovely fingers – those fingers that took the mask off, played with it, stuffed a sandwich in your mouth, and then put the nasty old mask back on your face probably inside-out (if you’ve had a few too many). And probably rubbed your itchy eyes.

    Some experts are still saying that masks can be negative in situations like this. On-Off-disposed is ok. On-Off-On-Off repeat every few minutes is worse than no mask.

    This reminds me of a story a colleague told about work he did for the drug and alcohol foundation regarding impaired driving. The study gave alcohol to volunteers in a controlled environment and measured their cognitive and mechanical abilities to the point where they were impaired. Some volunteers who seldom drank were significantly impaired after one drink and a very low blood alcohol level. Some volunteers who could be called moderate drinkers were fine up to and beyond the .08% legal limit. Some alcoholic volunteers were incapable of doing anything until they had a fair number of drinks then became able to perform. Testing triple the legal limit before any impairment became measurable.

    So at the end of the study there was no correlation between blood alcohol level and impairment – the significant variable was previous alcohol consumption patterns and alcohol tolerance (which unfortunately is also related to race). The only way to accurately test impairment was to perform a physical impairment test involving walking the line etc.

    The government chose, however, to set 0.08% blood alcohol content as the official definition of impairment. Why? Because it could be measured with a machine and required no thought.

    The fact that it was arbitrary, did not measure impairment and unfair to some individuals was of no consequence. It was a number and people can understand numbers. People who were impaired at .02% were let off after fatal crashes, and people who were totally fine were convicted at .065%.

    Unfortunately the use of a mask falls into the same category of thought. We can see a mask. We can’t see covid.

  71. It’s sad for the children w/ disabilities and their families to not be able to travel for major Holidays if the band isn’t lifted by then. My 3 yr old son has Autism and has sensory issues and will not wear a mask no matter how hard we try in therapy. So now going to see Grandma & Grandpa for Christmas is a no go. =( Not all people are “refusing” to wear a mask. Some children just can’t.

  72. I understand why we wear masks but do not agree that the airlines would necessarily win if sued. The outline of elements noted in the article talks about the risk of a “direct” threat and the need for an individualized assessment. How is a direct threat defined? If a child with autism or other issues has not knowingly been exposed to the virus, how is that person a direct threat to others? Children are in schools for a lot longer than most flights, some with exceptions to masks. If there is a known exposure, they quarantine. I am having trouble with the blanket statement that everyone has to wear a mask because we are all direct threats to each other. That just does not jive with the fact that at least where I am the positivity rate is under 3%. Also, what individualized assessments are being done? And, is there really a way to establish the probability that someone will be affected by a person on the plane without a mask? What level of probability is required? Again, I am not anti-mask – I wear them in the store, on a plane, and wherever it is required. However, not allowing any room for exceptions just does not sit right with me. I love Southwest, but I absolutely do not agree with this decision. Still, I am not about to sue them myself.

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