Delta Passengers Who Can't Wear a Mask for Medical Reasons Need to Be Pre-approved Ahead of Flight

Passengers are required to have a health consultation if they claim they cannot wear a mask.

Delta Air Lines now requires passengers to undergo an approval process if they claim they can’t wear a mask on board due to a medical reason.

The new rule mandates fliers who can’t wear a mask because of a health condition or disability to complete a “Clearance-to-Fly” process before their departure.

“If you require this exemption, please arrive early to complete the process during check-in and avoid missing your flight – this process can take over one hour,” Delta wrote on their website. The airline also noted that they “strongly” encourages people who can’t wear masks to “reconsider travel” and warns the process to receive an exemption is a long one during check-in, advising customers to arrive early to the airport.

As part of the process of getting approved to fly without a mask, passengers have to complete a virtual consultation over the phone with medical personnel while at the airport, the airline told The Points Guy. The consultation is facilitated by Delta.

If a customer does not qualify for the mask exemption after the consultation, they will be rebooked for a later date or offered a refund, TPG noted.

“Medical research tells us that wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate,” a spokesperson for Delta told TPG. “That’s why Delta remains committed to requiring customers and employees to wear a mask or face covering as a consistent layer of protection across all Delta touchpoints.”

A spokeswoman for Delta did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Travel + Leisure.

Delta started requiring masks be worn by passengers in May, joining other major U.S. airlines requiring the same. That followed the carrier’s decision to block middle seats and cap the number of passengers allowed on its planes, a policy that has been extended through the end of September.

In addition to this new safety process, Delta (voted as having some of the best customer service for domestic airlines by T+L readers) has also installed plexiglass shields at check-in desks, departure gates, and in Sky Clubs, which the airline recently started opening back up to travelers.

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