While most US airlines copied each other’s mask rules last year that required everyone 2 or older to wear a mask on flights, Delta held out and exempted young children from the requirement if they couldn’t keep a mask on:
I’m all for mask requirements on a plane, but anyone that’s a parent knows that toddlers don’t exactly listen to requirements. Requiring a 2 year old to keep a mask on for the duration of a flight might sound good to a policy maker, but that doesn’t mean it’s practical. 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!
Or as commenter aaron said it, “I have a hard enough time getting my 2 year old to keep his pants on!”
While foreign airlines like Lufthansa and Swiss require better masks, they sensibly make exemptions for children under 5 from having to wear a mask.
Of course enforcement varies by the flight attendant, but there have been many incidents of 2 year olds and their families being ejected off American, JetBlue, United, and Southwest flights due to “non-compliance.”
Delta’s policy made sense to me and while I’m not flying with my family yet, Delta would probably be my airline of choice when we decided to return to the skies due to that policy.
Some will argue that requiring 2 year olds to wear a mask is sensible during a pandemic, but I’d ask where is the science showing that it’s OK for a 1 year old to be unmasked, but not a 2 year old? I would understand making the rule universal or reasonable, but how does 2 years old make sense?
Others may also argue that children shouldn’t fly during a pandemic anyway, but that ignores that there are plenty of legitimate reasons that children may need to fly, and it isn’t reasonable to mandate that a 2 year old comply with mask wearing.
But President Biden signed an executive order requiring masks for everyone on all modes of public transportation and the CDC soon followed with updated rules that require everyone 2 or older to wear a mask.
While the rules do carve out exceptions for disabilities, which airlines have now adopted, there is no exception for young children.
And sure enough, Delta has now updated their policy to remove the exemption for young children 2 and older and to state that masks must be worn in between bites and sips:
Delta does remain the only US airline still blocking middle seats, at least through 3/30.
What do you think of requiring masks for toddlers?