Southwest Airlines and American Airlines are tightening rules regarding mask exemptions. Major carriers have generally been allowing passengers with medical conditions to board without masks up until now. Southwest's president reveals that the airline is seeing 'too many' exceptions for masks that are ultimately putting both travelers and crew members at risk. Both Southwest and American are going as far as banning passengers who claim that they are unable to wear masks due to medical conditions. Going forward, only children under two years of age will be permitted to board plans without masks.
Passengers traveling with Southwest and American will still be permitted to remove their masks when eating or drinking during flights. However, the expectation is that masks will be replaced as soon as a passenger is finished with refreshments. Mask rules in place with major carriers in the United States generally apply at ticket counters, baggage claims and other populated areas inside airports. It appears that the nation's major airlines are taking firmer policies when it comes to banning passengers who refuse to comply. Delta claims to have taken action against more than 100 passengers who have failed to comply with safety policies.
The word out of Delta right now is that the airline intends to try to make both passengers and crew members feel safer by increasing COVID-19 testing for employees. Delta has already been consistently testing employees at its headquarters in Atlanta. In addition, employees at several Delta hubs have also been tested regularly. The airline intends to begin testing employees at airports around the country within the next few weeks.