Delta requires passengers to undergo health screening if they can’t wear a mask

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The company says travelers with valid medical conditions can avoid wearing a mask, but they should reconsider flying at all

Delta Air Lines is getting tough about wearing face coverings. It’s now requiring any passenger who can't wear a mask because of health reasons -- which are few and far between -- to have a medical screening. On top of that, the airline asks those travelers to consider not flying at all until the COVID-19 pandemic is over and done with.

Less than a month ago, Delta established a face covering requirement for all passengers. If they don't go along with the airline’s request, it’s possible they could be banned from future flights altogether. Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO, sent a memo to employees in June that the airline was serious about the situation and had already "banned some passengers from future travel on Delta for refusing to wear masks on board."

"We encourage customers who are prevented from wearing a mask due to a health condition to reconsider travel," Delta stated. "If they decide to travel, they will be welcome to fly upon completing a virtual consultation prior to departure at the airport to ensure everyone's safety, because nothing is more important."

The screening process

The first part of the process to be cleared for a maskless flight is to get to the airport at least an hour earlier than normal. That means if you have a 9 a.m. flight, you would normally have to be at the airport by 8 a.m. which means, in this situation, you need to be at the airport by 7 a.m. 

To speed things along, Delta has partnered with STAT-MD to conduct virtual consultations over the phone. Delta has a long-standing relationship with STAT-MD, mostly to discuss how to handle inflight emergencies. STAT-MD is staffed around the clock, so a passenger in need of a consult won’t be forced to wait forever. Depending on how the screening turns out, Delta will use the results to determine whether the passenger can or cannot fly without a mask.

If a traveler thinks their freedom is being infringed upon by Delta’s mask policy, they might have a difficult time finding another way to get where they’re going. In an all-in move in mid-June, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines all agreed on a sweeping, uniform, health mask policy.

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