For those claiming health issues, Delta to require pre-flight evaluation for exceptions to mask policy

USAToday.com

Airline passengers are required to wear face masks, and Delta is no exception.

Starting Monday, anyone who books a Delta flight who requests an exemption from the mask requirement must undergo a medical evaluation at the airport before boarding.

In a statement, Drake Castañeda, a Delta spokesman, said the airline encourages passengers who can’t wear a mask for medical reasons to reconsider traveling.

If they must travel, he said, such passengers “will be welcome to fly upon completing a virtual consultation prior to departure at the airport to ensure everyone’s safety.”

The evaluation will be done in private with STAT-MD, Delta’s partner for in-flight emergency consultations, which is based at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Delta’s website encourages passengers who need to request an exemption to arrive at the airport early because the evaluation could take up to an hour.

False claims of a disability or health condition to obtain an exemption for the mask requirement could result in the suspension of travel privileges.

According to Delta, passengers who are denied an exemption to the mask policy will receive a refund for their tickets. 

Castañeda said Delta remains committed to the mask requirement for passengers and employees to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“Medical research tells us that wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention repeated its call for all Americans wear cloth face coverings.

“Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield in a statement, “particularly when used universally within a community setting.”

The CDC does note some exceptions for mask-wearing: Children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

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