The Time Has Come For Airlines To Choose: #RaiseTheMinimumAge For Masks Or Ban Young Children From Flying During The Pandemic

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United started it.

On July 22nd they made a new rule requiring anyone 2 or older to wear a mask.

Until that point all airlines had a common sense policy to exempt young children who couldn’t wear a mask on a flight.

Airlines love copying each other and soon enough every major US airline besides Delta would require masks for everyone 2 and older without exceptions.

Here’s the Venn diagram on which airlines require 2 year olds to wear masks and which airlines promise empty middle seats, which shows which airlines at least put their money where their mouth is:

In my opinion, the rule is absurd. If we’re looking to stop the spread of COVID-19, then a 12 month old or a 23 month old for that matter is just as problematic as a 24 month old.

Presumably, the policy is based on the CDC saying that “Masks should NOT be worn by children under age 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”

That doesn’t mean a child magically becomes contagious at 24 months. It also doesn’t mean that the CDC is saying that a 2 year old should be required to wear a mask for the duration of a flight. I’d also argue that many 2 and 3 year olds also fall under CDC’s category of being unable to remove the mask without assistance, and should therefore be exempt.

If we’re looking for the age at which a child can be reasoned with to wear a mask, it’s certainly older than 2. I’d guess that it’s probably around 5. So what exactly is the point of a rule arbitrarily requiring 2 year olds to wear a mask? Why exactly is that the cut-off point?

One argument is that a 2 year old needs to wear a mask just like that need to wear a seatbelt on a plane. Fair enough, but one of the many reasons we fly with carseats for our toddlers is so they will be secure in their seats for the entire flight. It’s just too easy for a toddler to take off their airplane seatbelt, so a carseat ensures they won’t be able to unbuckle themselves! However there’s no way to get a toddler to keep a mask on and 2 year olds are completely unpredictable. There’s just no way to know if your 2 year old will keep a mask on for the duration of a flight.

Commenter aaron said it best, “I have a hard enough time getting my 2 year old to keep his pants on!“

Last week, Southwest kicked a family off of a return flight home to Houston because their 3 year old son with autism wouldn’t keep his mask on. Sure, they were following the rules, but that just shows how ridiculous the rules are. Airlines may as well ban all travel with young children if they’re going to enforce rules like that. I’m not a fan of that, but it would save them from ridiculous situations where they have to kick families off a flight because a 2 year old can’t be reasoned with.

Yesterday I wrote about how JetBlue egregiously kicked a mother flying with her 6 kids off a plane because her 2 year old couldn’t keep her mask on, despite JetBlue’s site saying that the rule didn’t apply to young children and their press release saying that the rule didn’t apply to those 2 and under.

A DansDeals commenter says that he had to sit with his toddler on his lap for the duration of a Southwest flight after he was threatened by a flight attendant when his 2 year old removed his mask during a flight.

Delta has been an industry leader throughout this pandemic and deserves praise. They never tried to play games with refunds like JetBlue and United did before the DOT told them to stop their deceptive and unfair practices. They have promised and delivered on empty middle seats on all flights. And they have the most logical mask policy,

“Customers with unique mask requirements should bring the appropriate face covering that best meets their needs. Customers with underlying conditions that explicitly prevent the wearing of a face covering or mask are strongly encouraged to reconsider travel or should be prepared to complete a ‘Clearance-to-Fly’ process prior to departure at the airport. 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. Please arrive early to allow additional time. Mask exemptions only apply for travel on flights operated by Delta Air Lines and Delta Connection and do not exempt customers from any requirements that may be imposed by governments, including local, state or foreign countries, (at the origin or destination) or from requirements on other airlines. 

Any false claims of a disability or health condition to obtain an exemption from wearing a mask or face covering may result in the suspension of travel privileges on any Delta flight for the duration of the mask/face covering requirement.

Children under the age two, young children who cannot maintain a face covering and unaccompanied minors are exempt from the mask requirement and do not require a pre-travel clearance.”

That policy was misreported by the Washington Post, but was corrected after I contacted Delta for clarification.

They ask that passengers 2 or older wear a mask, but Delta told me that passengers under 8 who can’t keep a mask on won’t be required to do so.

Non-US airlines also do better. For example Lufthansa requires masks from the age of 6. Iberia requires them from the age of 6 as well.

We have a 2 year old and while I’d like to think she would wear a mask, there’s really no way to know.

I haven’t flown anywhere with my family since January and don’t have any plans to, but sometimes you just need to take a flight. It seems like that will be extremely difficult for families with young children to do for as long as the mask requirement stays in place.

Sure, we could just fly Delta, though their service from Cleveland is quite limited. Plus I have elite status on American, JetBlue, and United, which make it beneficial to stick with those airlines when possible.

The toddler mask rule is going to keep creating situations like the recent ones on Southwest and JetBlue. Airlines need to come up with a more reasonable rule than one that requires the compliance of a 2 year old or a kid with autism.

Previous polls on this site show that 86% of respondents believe that young children should be exempt from masks on a plane and 88% of respondents believe that Southwest was in the wrong for kicking off the family with a 3 year old child with autism for not wearing a mask.

Are any US airlines besides Delta actually listening? It’s time to #RaiseTheMinimumAge

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52 Comments On "The Time Has Come For Airlines To Choose: #RaiseTheMinimumAge For Masks Or Ban Young Children From Flying During The Pandemic"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.


Still not entirely sure how seatbelts on a plane even help!
Haven’d heard of a plane crash survivor due to wearing a seatbelt!


Not all crashes happen from way high up. My husband was in a small plane crash landing and the seatbelts kept all the passengers secure in their seats with only minor bruises.


We live in a country where people don’t know how to use “seichel”. End of story. It’s why everything has become so extreme; people are taught to either see black or white and not to utilize critical thinking skills.


I think it all depends on the crew. We flew recently on SW. The FAs were very patient and had no problem periodically reminding 9-12 year old children to pull up their mask. Some of these recent cases seem to be the FAs pulling a power move and not just enforcing the rules.


So this should be a good time to root out the FAs and agents with a tendency to go on power trips.


It’s all a PR stunt to show the world that they are taking “precautions”. I flew United the other day and they are so strict about social distancing while boarding and deplaning, yet, when it comes to selling seats and making money suddenly the social distancing doesn’t apply.


100 percent.


Exactly, they’d rather focus on getting kids to wear masks. Maybe people are now believing masks work without social distancing?! Or airlines want us to believe that.


My shul has the same attitude. Social distancing is not necessary, and masks,and I quote, ‘are just a chumra.’


Which plane do you daven on?


Just points here. Just flew with 6 & 3 yr olds, on delta and sun country. 3 yr old never put one on. 6 yr old had it on for about 10% of the time. No issues at all


There’s another poll on another site showing 90% of people felt Jetblue was wrong too. That’s a whole lot of consensus and airlines should take heed. Boy am I glad that I decided to go for Delta Elite status last year and not another airline.


Dan, how dare you suggest that kids should even be on a plane at this time!
Joking aside, thank you for a clear and logical post at a time when every company comes up with their own arbitrary rules.


We just flew with frontier on 3 flights, my 2yr old never had a mask on and I didn’t get comments from anyone about her putting one on. My other children and us, parents were wearing one, but had it down most of the time for eating or just so we can talk. Thank G-d it worked out and they weren’t strict about it.

Dan\'s the Man

What airline?


Great that you parents were modeling bad behavior for your older kids. I hope no medical person has to risk their life taking care of you or your family if you get sick.


If you’re that worried about getting sick, maybe you shouldn’t fly. Airlines don’t care about your health or they’d be sure to follow CDC on distancing. Instead they lose all common sense about masking kids.


If you aren’t worried about getting sick, you need to educate yourself.

Chaim On The Run

Nah. You watch CNN too much.


Thank you Karen for being so worried and caring


It is possible to speak with a mask on. Please be considerate of other passengers. Kids who can’t understand should be exempt though it is nice to try. We teach our kids lots of things. It does take time, but please try. If the adults and older kids do not wear them, it tells other people you don’t care. If you are visibly frum, you represent us all, like it or not.
Thank G-d it worked out for now, but if someone gets sick, will you feel proud that you got away with it?

The world is upside down

Civil disobedience is the only way now


Commenter aaron sure is getting a lot of mileage with that line!:)


Thank you Dan for a voice of reason in this crazy time! How refreshing!


When the airlines quote CDC guidelines, they are just that.. Guidelines. They are never intended to apply black and white to every possible scenario. As a public health expert we try to provide reports to the public that are easy for the public to understand and follow. However everything in medicine is unfortunately grey area. Everybody is different. So the airlines need to do a better job of consulting medical professionals when unusual cases inevitably arrive.

Sam L

You work for the CDC?


Used to about 20 years ago. I have an MPH. I’m now in private practice to try and get away from the politics. But the politics still seem to follow me.

SW Flyer

Just flew cross country from ATL-LAX on Southwest. My four year old wore a mask for maybe the first ten minutes on the way there, none of our kids (Ages 1,2,3,&4) wore a mask on the way back. The FA were very kind and patient and did not harasses us regarding the masks.


I recently flew Southwest and had a horrible experience one way, with the crew being unreasonably nasty throughout the flight and then having the cops waiting for us to “educate” us on social distancing (although I’m not sure what the point of education is after flying…)when we landed, because we couldn’t get a 4 year old child to keep her mask on (ok I don’t have to fight with her to keep her pants on, but there is no chance in the world to get her to keep a mask on). On the return trip, the flight crew was much nicer and were understandable and nicely reminding the kids every once in a while.
I guess it’s up to the F. A. to decide how to represent their airlines and how big of a idiot to be about the rules! I also wonder if any of the F.A.’s that act unreasonable have any children or remember what it was like….




How much money did the family of 6 settle for with jetblue?


dan maybe you can help
do you know if united policy to recieve a voucher is if you book by augest 31 or if you cancel by augest 31.
because on the phone they told me that it needs to be canceld by augest 31 and,but when i called again and a different rep told me it could be canceld even a day before departure.


Did somone have experince with this,or knows the answer


I get all the hostility, and the way JetBlue handled things was unquestionably poor. But there is also another side to consider. Many parents do a very poor job controlling their children in general. This is especially true when there are a large number of young children together. And even parents who normally do a wonderful job struggle in a tight airplane setting over many hours. So if an elderly or immuno-compromised person has to travel, what should they do? Is it fair to have young children with no masks walking past them and coughing on them, or standing up on the seat and turning around and sneezing on them? It seems to me that allowing young children on flights with no masks means those who the masks were designed to protect are at a severe disadvantage. I’m not sure why those people should be the ones to suffer and the people with the kids should have free reign. I don’t have a solution, other than as Dan suggested banning young children on flights for the time being, which I don’t like either. But what can be done to try to be fair to everyone?


An old person etc shouldn’t fly commercial and definitely not in economy class! Even for the simple reason that Everyone on the place takes off masks while eating!!


”So if an elderly or immuno-compromised person has to travel, what should they do?”
So if a young child or baby has to travel, what should they do?


I haven’t flown with a mask, nor do I plan on flying until things settle. And certainly not with my 3 year old. However, that being said, we have taught my 3 year old to wear a mask in public. Most of the time she complies. Children wearing masks is a matter of practice and parental education. If you teach your kid to wear a mask, they will wear one most of the time. If you are planning on taking your kid on a trip, spend the three weeks before practicing mask wearing. If you are planning on sending your kid back to school (which will require kids to wear masks) spend the three weeks before practicing mask wearing. Kids are actually more teachable than adults. This is not rocket science.


#1 A 2 year old is not a 3 year old.
#2 Not every 3 year old is like yours.

Deal Guy

Its time for airlines to change the policy to 5 years of age and above!
You can’t reason with a 2 year old.

Especially an airline that keeps the middle seat free, you won’t have a child sitting next to a stranger anyways. It will probably be a parent.
A parent or child that live in the same house don’t need to wear face coverings.

So they should show flexibility to a 2 or 3 year old. If a grown man can take off his mask to eat on a 2 hour flight, surely a child can keep it off if they can’t be reasoned with.
Most definitely when they are in need of a pacifier. A pacifier should not be less important, than a grown man eating on a 2 hour flight.



Miguel Cirvantes

I fail to see why anyone needs to travel without protecting the others around them. Parents on this thread that drag their (possibly) infected kids because they can’t drive at the expense of the rest of us is pure selfishness. The social contract between you and me is completely broken.

I fully support a minimum age of 6 with 100% mask to fly. If you are under this age, sorry, you have to drive.


That’s fine for cross country. What about people who need to go home to their country overseas?

I’m watching all this with interest as an Australian, as we have a 2.5 year old, and there’s no way she’ll be able to keep it on for the whole 14 hour flight from LAX


Maybe you should drive. Its alot easier to driver yourself them woth kids.


Did you even read his comment? How is he supposed to drive from LAX to Australia? you are some special kind of idiot that will just blindly comply with any order these dictators come up with.


The airlines allow children under 2 to fly with a mask, obviously young children without masks are not a huge concern


This will never happen, but I wish children under 6 were only allowed on select flights. Looking at the faces of people at the gate, it’s clear when a parent rolls up with a young child, the vast majority of passengers immediately hope it’s not seated anywhere near them. I’ve never been on a flight where young children make anything more pleasurable, so put them on their own flights so the rest of us can choose to travel with them.


I had a mask off the entire flight by pretending I was eating


I flew NYC TLV Delta with 4 kids, 5, 3, 2 and 8 month no mask no one said anything.
They did announce all kids 2 and over need masks.
One stewardess was waking adults up if the mask wasn’t cover the nose


there are too many stories of people acting like computers when enforcing covid rules, as one of my school teachers used to say: common sense isn’t that common…
yes, the rules are the rules, but human enforcers need to use human logic and not go nuts… someone just told me they were questioned by police in melbourne airport because they brought their son to catch a flight, they said they violated the 5km rule (the lockdown in melbourne currently prohibits one from going further than 5km from their house) the officer said he should have taken an uber, seriously? why can an uber drive him but not his own parents?! they also didn’t let them get out of the car and help unload and say goodbye despite the sidewalk being deserted and no one anywhere near 6ft of them…. seriously, people need to get a life…


Just thought I would ask and see if any one had any thoughts. We’re flying tomorrow on Delta and I specifically booked with them because they’re more lenient about 3-year-olds wearing masks but with biden’s mask mandate will Delta be forced to adopt this policy