Travelers have been abusing the excuse “but I have a medical condition” to flout airline face mask policies the same way people use allergies to justify sending food back that they ordered wrong, and American and Southwest Airlines are sick of it. Both airlines announced on Wednesday that they’d be further strengthening their face mask policies — requiring all passengers over the age of 2 to wear a face mask from the moment they arrive at the airport until the moment they depart.
And they mean “everyone,” this time. Even if you have a legitimate medical condition.
The Southwest and American Airlines beefed-up new policies will go into effect on July 27th and July 29th respectively, and both outright state that non-compliant passengers will be denied transportation services. Southwest doesn’t even care if you came with a doctor’s note, the policy states, “If a Customer is unable to wear a face-covering for any reason (even a verifiable medical condition), we regret that we are unable to transport the Customer at this time, due to safety risk of asymptomatic COVID-19 transmission by Customers without face coverings.” Southwest acknowledges that face coverings will need to be removed when eating or drinking, “however, we expect these instances to be very brief.”
Similarly, American Airlines only allows masks to be removed while eating and drinking, with zero-tolerance for those who try to defy the new rule, “Those unwilling to comply with this face-covering requirement at any time during their journey with American may debarred from future travel for the duration of this face-covering requirement.” So if you’re an anti-masker who needs to fly American or Southwest in the near future, you going to have to just swallow your pride on this one, or you know, walk.
According to the CDC, “The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when cloth face coverings are used along with other preventative measures, including social distancing, frequent hand washing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.” Our panel of epidemiologists concluded the same. Wear a mask, that’s all there is to say!