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Two U.S. Airlines Announced They Will No Longer Accept Medical Exemptions for Face Masks

For the majority of the businesses requiring customers to wear face masks, they ofter an exemption to those with certain medical conditions. (They also exempt those under the age of 2, per the recommendation of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.) However, a couple of major U.S. airlines have just reversed their policies on their mask mandates. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines both decided that they will no longer allow medical exemptions as a reason not to wear a face mask. ( More...

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Mark Kortum 11
Many of us are allergic to those mangy things too!
tcpat 11
Mark; interesting. When does the right of a person with an emotional support dog outweigh the right of a person with severe allergies to dogs on a plane?
Brad Littlejohn 0
It has nothing to do with just an ESA. If a passenger is blind and the service animal is a guide dog, then the ACAA require the airline to accommodate the service animal. They can not be refused service because of their disability, whereas the passenger with the allergies is not disabled.
Chuck Lavazzi 2
No, that's been abused as well. One does not rule out the other.
Brad Littlejohn 2
ESAs are already covered by the Air Carrier Access Act. All the airlines have to do is exercise their rights under that act and ask the holder of the ESA for documentation as to why they need the ESA. If they ask, then by law, the passenger has to provide it. If they don't have it or can't provide it, they don't fly.

Pure and simple. In fact, here it is again:

What kind of documentation can be required of persons travelling with emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals?

Airlines may require documentation that is not older than one year from the date of your scheduled initial flight that states:

1. You have a mental or emotional disability that is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM);

2. You need your emotional support or psychiatric support animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at your destination;

3. The individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional and the passenger is under his/her professional care; and

3a. The licensed health care professional’s;

3b. Date and type of professional license; and

4. Jurisdiction or state in which their license was issued.

All you need to do is tell the airlines to ENFORCE THE DAMNED LAW.
FedExCargoPilot 2
Prefer to sit next to an emotional support animal than humans
Bruce Atkinson 1
THAT should have been stopped a long time ago. Now would be a good time.
Highflyer1950 25
Smart, others should follow their lead.
aurodoc 37
Well if you have a real medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask then you are probably too sick to get on an airplane
ToddBaldwin3 10
That is not necessarily true. People with pulmonary conditions may be OK breathing without a mask, but then add that extra resistance and it becomes a problem. That said, if I couldn't wear a mask, I would avoid travel at all costs. That is why I have extended my overseas assignment, so my child with asthma will not be exposed to the virus. Not to mention we are probably safer here than in my home state
Tommy Boy 0
Pulmonary conditions and therefore, can't wear a mask? Then you don't fly.
ToddBaldwin3 1
You really can’t make an absolute blanket statement like that. Decisions to fly or not fly have to be handled individually. As I stated above, I’ve made the decision to not fly right now. We will resume flying when I feel it is safe.
Tommy Boy 0
I didn't have to. Delta Airlines did. If you don't wear a mask, for WHATEVER reason, you can't fly on their aircraft.

Therefore, if you have pulmonary conditions and can't wear a mask, you can't fly on Delta, and you should probably stay home or drive to your destination.
WhiteKnight77 2
Here is a kicker for you. I have asthma and still wear a half face respirator and pancake P100 filters (I work around welders and can be exposed to hexavalent chromium). I have no issues with breathing. I have also used supplied air full face masks, even while wearing glasses as well. My asthma only really bothers me during winter months when cold air makes it difficult to breath
jmh 2
Not necessarily true. One example would be PTSD from having one's face forcibly covered from domestic violence, childhood abuse, kidnapping, P.O.W., etc. And yes, this raises the counterargument of the need for an oxygen mask in case of an in-flight emergency. However, the odds of needing to do so are extremely low and would only be for a few minutes during descent to a breathable altitude. A few minutes would be tough but manageable for many, but not hours at a time.
Elisa J 8
I don't agree with the need for "support animals". If a passenger is that fragile, perhaps they should investigate an alternate method of travel, or perhaps visit by FaceTime or Zoom.
WhiteKnight77 7
More airlines should follow this, especially ones that are selling all seats on an airplane.
planeguy53 3
Good, because they can be had cheaply just like "Support Animal" certifications!
david fairchild 15
Fake medical exemptions, are the same as fake emotional support animal certificates, and all should be refused. No exceptions..... wear a mask, or walk.
mary susan watkins 4
airlines have long accommodated those with disabilites,from whceelchair access to paraplegics to those travelling from hospitals for treatment for cancer or burns or other such..needless to say, if a person requires oxygen onboard as these devices use a canula for the nose,a mask might be an issue..the masks that are available include not just cloth ones,but a paper like material that can be breathed through,or even ones with filters..i think people protesting are more afraid of not getting air as they have never worn a mask as required to visit people with certain diseases in a hospital,nor have they worked in the medical field..remember, "no shirt no shoes no service"??well, an airline is a business that deals with all kinds of people,and requiring a mask due to a pandemic is not out of line..!a lawsuit,all things considered,would be totally frivolous!
James Meek 5
Regarding the "Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)", the group's name makes gives the impression that it is a prestigious organization like the American Medical Society, whose advice is here:
This article is also excellent:

My daughter is a doctor and has an ample supply of horror stories about complete jerks she's encountered in the profession. Note that the "AAPS" membership is only about 5,000, less than 1% of American physicians.
This unmasks the AAPS:
Chuck Lavazzi 6
Yeah, American Hospital Association (AHA), the American Medical Association (AMA), and American Nurses Association (ANA) are all legitimate professional organizations. AAPS is a far-right lobbying organization with some pretty crackpot ideas that verge on quackery.
Robert Cowling 3
They call it 'Astroturf'. In other words, fake grassroots. Fake bullshit groups that seek a sheen of respectability and authority. It's very common actually in America. And the weasels behind groups like this hide behind the first amendment and exist because of a lack of enforcement of existing laws and regulations that seek to limit the inaccurate and unsurprisingly very profitable bleetings of such evil groups.

Groups like this crescendoed during the 'tobacco wars', when one person in particular setup thousands of groups for a wide variety of corporations and their lobbying groups in an effort to whitewash their effects on the environment, and public health. True this group was founded in 1944, according to Wikipedia, but I would doubt that it was started with the goal of lying to the public.

Many groups that supported environmental action have also been co-opted by industry groups. The Susan Kohman breast cancer foundation is/was a prime example of that. They refused to fund research that might endanger the profits of the corporations that donated millions of dollars to them while their 'management' flew first class and stayed in 5-star hotels. Wounded Warrior had its own issues with greedy management.

Be very careful what groups you support, what groups you join, and what group you quote information from. There are far too many groups, foundations, charities, that exist to lie, obfuscate, profit, off of lies and evil politicians, and corporations.
Robert Cowling 5
No the AAPS *WAS* created to pedal bullshit to the world. The Wikipedia article is like reading about an insane person who has been locked up for their own protection!


"The association's Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPandS), from 1996 to 2003 named the Medical Sentinel, is not listed in academic literature databases such as MEDLINE/PubMed or the Web of Science. The quality and scientific validity of articles published in the journal have been criticized by medical experts, and some of the viewpoints advocated by AAPS are rejected by mainstream scientists and other medical groups. The U.S. National Library of Medicine declined repeated requests from AAPS to index the journal, citing unspecified concerns.

As of September 2016, JPandS was listed on Beall's list of potential or probable predatory open-access journals. Quackwatch lists JPandS as an untrustworthy, non-recommended periodical. An editorial in Chemical & Engineering News described the journal as a "purveyor of utter nonsense." Investigative journalist Brian Deer wrote that the journal is the "house magazine of a right-wing American fringe group [AAPS]" and "is barely credible as an independent forum." Writing in The Guardian, science columnist Ben Goldacre described the journal as the "in-house magazine of a rightwing US pressure group well known for polemics on homosexuality, abortion and vaccines."

Publishing of non-mainstream or scientifically discredited claims

Articles and commentaries published in the journal have argued a number of non-mainstream or scientifically discredited claims, including:

that human activity has not contributed to climate change, and that global warming will be beneficial and thus is not a cause for concern.
that HIV does not cause AIDS.
that the "gay male lifestyle" shortens life expectancy by 20 years.
that there is a link between abortion and the risk of breast cancer.
that there are possible links between autism and vaccinations.
that government efforts to encourage smoking cessation and emphasize the addictiveness of nicotine are misguided.

A series of articles by anti-abortion authors published in the journal argued for a link between abortion and breast cancer. Such a link has been rejected by the scientific community, including the U.S. National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the World Health Organization, among other major medical bodies.

A 2003 paper published in the journal, claiming that vaccination was harmful, was criticized for poor methodology, lack of scientific rigor, and outright errors by the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics. A National Public Radio piece mentioned inaccurate information published in the Journal and said: "The journal itself is not considered a leading publication, as it's put out by an advocacy group that opposes most government involvement in medical care."

The journal has also published articles advocating politically and socially conservative policy positions, including:

that the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are unconstitutional;
that "humanists" have conspired to replace the "creation religion of Jehovah" with evolution;
that "anchor babies" are valuable to undocumented immigrants, particularly if the babies are disabled.

The organization published on its website an article claiming that Obama hypnotized audiences with his speeches, using "extra slow speech, rhythm, tonalities, vagueness, visual imagery, metaphor, and raising of emotion." The "O" in Obama's logo was compared to a crystal ball used as a "point of visual fixation".

Leprosy error

In a 2005 article published in the journal, Madeleine Cosman argued that illegal immigrants were carriers of disease, and that immigrants and "anchor babies" were launching a "stealthy assault on [American] medicine." In the article, Cosman claimed that "Suddenly, in the past 3 years America has more than 7,000 cases of leprosy" because of illegal aliens. The journal's leprosy claim was cited and repeated by Lou Dobbs as evidence of the dangers of illegal immigration.

Publicly available statistics show that the 7,000 cases of leprosy occurred during the past 30 years, not the past three as Cosman claimed. James L. Krahenbuhl, director of the U.S. government's leprosy program, stated that there had been no significant increase in leprosy cases, and that "It [leprosy] is not a public health problem—that’s the bottom line." National Public Radio reported that the Journal article "had footnotes that did not readily support allegations linking a recent rise in leprosy rates to illegal immigrants." The article's erroneous leprosy claim was pointed out by 60 Minutes, National Public Radio, and The New York Times. As of 2020, the article remains on the journal's website without having been corrected."
Tommy Boy 2
Thank you for posting this.
Philip Lanum -2
Supporter of Dr. Stella Immanuel detected.
Steve Balogh 6
I just saw a youtube video of a guy who refused to wear a mask on a plane and apparently it was illegal to remove him because of this. The only option the airline had was to tell other passengers that they were entitled to leave the plane and catch a later flight at the airlines expense. In the meantime the guy without the mask was gloating on camera how he had just won the and ridiculed the people who might be leaving the delayed flight. I can understand the airlines response to no longer allow any exemptions because they are obviously being abused by selfish people.
Jim Myers 3
ToddBaldwin3 3
Can you post the link to that video?
jglazko 1
Horse hockey! The airline said, you must wear a mask. Your pilot in command is THE LAW while you are flying. I suppose they could just kick you off the flight, parachute optional, if you don't want to follow the rules...
billybob snaketail 3
The social contract in this country has been torn up and set on fire. We used to care about our countrymen and women, but now it is every man for himself. How sad that we have let this happen to a once great country.
Justthefacs 3
Good move. It is amazing the number of people that claim they have to have "Muffy" in order to fly as it is a (fake) therapy dog. Non-mask wearers would do the same thing.
David Hugelmeyer 3
Utter nonsense! As a physician I can attest to an almost non existent contraindication for wearing a mask (I didn't say it was comfortable!) and agree if you have such an issue you probably shouldn't fly. Typical 'Merica trying to bluster and challenge anything even if via a doctor's note. By the way, don't bother coming to an ER, our professional Colleges have said it is inappropriate to ever write such excuses for patients. As a pilot, the decision is up to the PIC and if they and flight crew say wear a mask, wear it. You have NO legal ground to refuse and remain on the plane. Kudos to Southwest and American.
But I woke up with the sheets pulled up over part of my face this morning... I almost died!

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Michael Hawke 5
Too bad that the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons that you quote is a political action committee of only about 5000 members known for backing scientifically false ideas. In fact you don’t have to be a doctor to join.
Philip Lanum 3
Follower of Dr. Stella Immanuel detected.
I followed your crackpot link and wow.

"the wide use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not supported by current evidence and carries uncertainties and critical risks.”

Yeah, it's the MASKS that carry the uncertainties and critical risks.

"Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.” and "WHO acknowledges that most people do not use masks properly."

Some people don't do it right, so nobody should wear masks at all. That is the point WHO was trying to make. Got it.

Quoting the CDC “We don’t routinely recommend the use of face masks by the public to prevent respiratory illness,” said on January 31. “And we certainly are not recommending that at this time for this new virus."

"At this time" being key. It's no longer January and we now know it's no longer routine.

"From the New England Journal of Medicine"

No, it's from a letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Hey D Rotten, are you in the same office as MH370? Tell him hello.
cyberjet 2
You should be sued for spreading misinformation that’s dangerous to public health, especially when that information is written by a group of doctors whose prime motivation is profiting from the misery of others.
aurodoc 2
Yes this AAPS group is not a mainstream medical association or society. Face masks are important tools to help prevent spread of disease. Many people feel they are uncomfortable but I am a surgeon and wear one for up to 10 hours at a time without issues.
ken young 1
As to the service animal regs and the abuse of same, I'm driving. Air travel is worse than ever. Time for air carriers to adjust fares upward to discourage these miscreants( slobs, toe and nose pickers, the non-bathers, drunks, entitled Karens, people who can't control their screeching brats, etc. from flying and making the rest of us miserable. Spare me the "but what about" scenarios
C B 1
Very good reversed policy! AA & SW saw through the BS!!! ;D
Tom Bruce 1
Hey...this is great! I agree with almost all of these!! a record!
monica cramer 1
Isn't good use the face mask during all long travell, per persons White COPD
Chuck Lavazzi 1
Makes sense. This is clearly being abused the same way the "support animal" exception has been abused, albeit for different reasons. It's up to airlines to look out for the health of their customers since nothing positive in this regard can be expected from the current Federal government.
Gordon Musch 1
Excellent!! I do not want to die with a tube down my throat trying to help me breathe.
Robert Cowling -6
Since people are downloading 'official' exemption certificates off the internet, and right wing media is championing the use of them, the real evil is right wing media!

Fox News kills!!!
dave veltman 0
william baker -4
Ummm I smell a few lawsuits coming about.
Roger Anderson 6
And what would they be suing them for?
James Sandiford 10
For people with an actual diagnosed condition? A violation of the American with Disabilities Act.
Michael Hawke 19
The ADA specifically allows airlines to not provide accommodations when it impairs the safety of others.
Brad Littlejohn 6
You should read up on the Air Carrier Access Act, which actually gives what rights the airline and the passenger has, as the ADA would barely start to apply, when the ACAA actually would, let alone define what requirements a person must have to meet for travelling with a disability.

And for the record, most sicknesses are NOT disabilities.
Michael Hawke 10
Air Carrier Access Act states “air carrier may refuse someone from a flight of carrying that person is counter to the safety of the safety of the flight”. If they say everyone has to wear a mask to be safe and someone can’t, that provides them a reason to refuse carriage.
Roger Anderson 5
Does it really violate the ADA though? I've been reading about it and so far, I've been seeing that it isn't a violation. I'm sure big airlines wouldn't blatantly open themselves up to a lawsuit either.
ToddBaldwin3 1
Wrong law. That is covered under the Air Carrier Access Act. I'm not sure what it says specifically about this.
Jim Myers -1
Brad Littlejohn 1
No. You're wrong. Again, the ADA does not apply here. When it comes to airlines, the Air Carrier Access Act holds sway, and for the provisions outlined above, the airline has every right to refuse service to a passenger for not wearing a mask. Educate yourself on that law.
Michael Hawke 0
Not wrong “The ADA does not regulate air travel discrimination”. There are two sections in the act that define applicability that would include airlines and both state “other than by aircraft”. I can provide the paragraph numbers if you neeed.
Ga Za 0
They had to do this. It is too easy to get a doctor to sign a piece of paper. It’s like the travelers who get doctor certified assistance animals on planes. How many of those are really necessary? I feel sorry for those who have real medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask, but these are extraordinary times.
Jim Allen 0
Don’t like it? Fly GA.
FedExCargoPilot 1
If only GA aircraft could fly in all weather and fly across the pond..hopefully one day
WhiteKnight77 1
You mean to tell me a Gulfstream IV is not capable of flying to London? /s
Will they accept a political reason not to wear?? Let us vote for Doctors and have on call politicians. They have they answers...(but not the cures)
Brad Littlejohn 1
No. and that is outside the fact that any political reason to not wear a mask or refuse to wear a mask was shot down by SCOTUS.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Antonello Davi 5
what are you 12 years old? Getty silly?
Scott Campbell -1

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

David Young 13
As a physician, I must say you’re sadly misinformed. Please educate yourself by reviewing a few layman medical periodicals before making comments like this and continuing to spread ignorance about there being “no medical basis for requiring face masks on airliners”.
David Stark 0
I have been reading the research that is being released now and not covered by the news.
So in a life or death situation if we don't know who is right and who is wrong, what is the logical thing to do?

1. err on the side of caution
2. roll the dice
Michael Hawke 2
Why would the news cover it. It is not peer reviewed and has no scientific basis. Just like the Ford health system study on everbodies favorite drug. Once peers were able to review it has been shown to have very questionable statistical basis
Chuck Lavazzi 2
I'm old enough to remember a time when "research" didn't mean "some shite a crackpot published on the Internet." (:-)
Philip Lanum 2
Dr. Stella Immanuel supporter.
Highflyer1950 1
If it’s a closed system, then what are those big outflow valves doing in the side of the fuselage?
D Rotten -9
Now, THIS is VERY interesting!
Association Of American Physicians And Surgeons Sounds Off On Face Masks
cyberjet 4
Are you one of those anti-vaxxers too? That statement has been completely debunked.
Tom Bruce 3
you can find stuff anywhere to support any position you have... PIC decides...airline decides...
Tommy Boy 2
It's not interesting at all. In fact, misinformation and those who spread it are too stupid for words.
Michael Hawke 2
Which is only a political action committee. You don’t have to be a doctor to join just willing to send money. Their last fight was to say HIV did cause aides.
Philip Lanum 0
Dr. Stella Immanuel supporter. You know demons and all.


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