Lufthansa Cracks Down On Mask Exemptions Requiring COVID Test

The Lufthansa Group is cracking down on the permissible exemptions to its mandatory mask policy. The Group was one of the first in the world to introduce such a policy in April. Since then, it has written it into its conditions of carriage.

Lufthansa Group, Mask Policy, Medical Exemption
The Lufthansa Group is cracking down on mask exemptions. Photo: Oliver Roesler via Lufthansa

While resistance to wearing masks may not be a significant problem in Europe, the question of masks has become very high profile in the United States. Indeed, over 100 passengers have been blacklisted from Delta Air Lines for not complying. Lufthansa today joined the US airlines by toughening its stance on mask-wearing.

So what’s new for Lufthansa?

The actual policy of wearing masks on Lufthansa hasn’t changed. Indeed, all flights will still require passengers to wear a mask. It’s a measure that passengers agree to when boarding a Lufthansa flight, as it is now part of the conditions of carriage.

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What is changing is how Lufthansa handles those who have a genuine need not to wear a mask. This could be a special needs child with a phobia of masks, for example. In the United States, most airlines have said there are no exceptions to the rule. Essentially, if you can’t wear a mask, you can’t travel.

Lufthansa Group, Mask Policy, Medical Exemption
Passengers agree to wear a mask onboard as part of the airlines’ conditions of carriage. Photo: Alex Cheban via Austrian Airlines

However, Lufthansa is taking a different approach. The airline will allow passengers to travel if they have a genuine medical need that means a mask cannot be worn. In this case, the passenger’s doctor will be required to sign a form provided by Lufthansa.

But the rules go one step further for passengers with an exemption letter. In addition to the letter, these passengers must obtain a COVID-19 test within 48-hours of their flight. The negative test result must be carried on the plane with the passenger.

Lufthansa requires all other passengers to wear a nose and mouth covering. Masks with valves and face shields without an additional mask are not permitted by the airline, as they allow air to escape, and don’t protect other passengers.

Getty passenger mask
Lufthansa became one of the first airlines to mandate masks back in April. Photo: Getty Images

Will the policy face resistance?

Across the United States, we’ve seen widespread resistance to wearing masks. Stories about passengers getting thrown off of planes for non-compliance are becoming a daily occurrence. However, when Simple Flying caught up with Lufthansa in late July, we found out that the airline had seen no resistance to its mask policy.

Klaus Froese, CEO Lufthansa German Airlines at Frankfurt, pointed out that, perhaps one day, masks on flights could become optional if an entire planeload of people has negative COVID-19 tests. For now, however, this is not feasible. As such, masks are here to stay for the time being.

What are your thoughts on wearing masks on aircraft? Let us know what you think in the comments!