Following an executive order from President Joe Biden, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mask mandate took effect on February 2. This requires all flyers to wear a mask or else they will not be able to fly and face consequences.
However, we are now learning that there are some passengers who could be exempt from the new order, including those who physically cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition.
For example, American Airlines, who in July banned medical exemptions, is now allowing those passengers with a valid doctor’s note and a negative COVID-19 test to not have to wear a mask while flying aboard. Their official website states:
Beginning Feb. 2, 2021, American will ask customers with disabilities who are unable to wear a mask to notify the airline’s Special Assistance team at least 72 hours prior to departure to request an exemption from the requirement. Exemptions will require documentation from a licensed health care provider, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three calendar days of departure or proof of recovery from COVID-19. Additionally, American will update its guidelines for acceptable mask types to prohibit bandanas and gaiters.
Alaska Airlines, who also banned medical exemptions last August, has changed their policy, which now states:
If you have a disability and are unable to wear a mask, please call our dedicated accessible services line at 1-800-503-0101 (dial 711 for relay services) at least 5 days prior to departure to request an exemption from the mask requirement.
Exemptions will require:
Documentation from a licensed health care provider as to your inability to wear a mask due to your disability; and
Proof of a negative test result from an FDA approved molecular COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of your scheduled flight departure;
And Delta Airlines stated back in July that those customers who have an underlying condition that prevents them from wearing a face-covering will be required to complete a “Clearance-To-Fly” process. Their website states:
Starting July 20, customers who indicate they have an underlying condition that prevents them from wearing a mask are required to complete a “Clearance-To-Fly” process before being permitted to travel, for everyone’s safety. The virtual consultation process facilitated by a Delta agent with a third-party medical professional could take up to an hour, so customers needing a rare exemption should plan to show up to the airport early. Delta is encouraging customers prevented from wearing a mask due to a health condition to reconsider travel, altogether. A “Clearance-To-Fly” process is required for each trip.
If you plan to travel via airline in the near future and have an underlying medical condition, it’s best if you get in contact with your airline directly for the most up-to-date information regarding the new policies that may have been put into place.
On February 2, TSA began really enforcing face mask wearing and are approaching maskless passengers before they even reach the gate.
“Passengers who refuse to wear a mask will not be permitted to enter the secure area of the airport, which includes the terminal and gate area,” the agency said in a statement. “Depending on the circumstance, those who refuse to wear a mask may be subject to a civil penalty for attempting to circumvent screening requirements, interfering with screening personnel, or a combination of those offenses.”
It is important to note that Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando both require face coverings to be worn at all times unless actively eating or drinking in a stationary spot. All Guests wishing to travel to the Orlando-based theme parks should be fully aware of the rules implemented at the theme parks before visiting.
If you are planning to visit a public place, such as Walt Disney World Resort or Orlando International Airport, please remember to practice safety and health protocols in order to keep yourself and others safe during this time. Keep your distance from other Guests, wear your appropriate face coverings at all required times, wash your hands often, try to use paperless payment methods, and cover your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing.