Mask Mandate and TSA Security Screening
Commencing February 2, 2021, pursuant to Executive Orders of the President of the United States and an order issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), travelers are required to wear masks in public transportation modes, such as airlines. This includes TSA security screening checkpoints. For more information on the mask mandate, go to TSA.gov for the Press Release, FAQs and other COVID-19 related information related to air travel. CDC guidance for attributes of acceptable masks is found at https://www/cdc.gov/quarantine/masks/mask-travel-guidance.html.
TSA Cares is a helpline that provides travelers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special circumstances additional assistance during the security screening process. Call at least 72 hours prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint. You may contact TSA Cares by phone at (855) 787-2227 (Federal Relay 711), or Email TSA Cares. Hours of operation are weekdays from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET and Weekends/Holidays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Through TSA Cares, you also may ask for assistance in security screening at the checkpoint.
Mask Mandate and TSA Security Screening.
TSA’s security procedures now require that all individuals must wear masks at the checkpoints and baggage screening locations with the following two exemptions: (1) a traveler who is under the age of two years, or (2) a traveler who states that s/he has a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask and who produces medical documentation by a licensed medical provider that the traveler cannot wear a mask. This exemption does not apply for individuals for whom mask wearing is difficult.
In the event you advise a TSA Officer that you have a disability that prevents you from wearing a mask, the TSA Officer may notify a Supervisor to assist. Medical documentation to support an exemption from the mask-wearing mandate should be on your licensed physician’s letterhead, and should include your name, and clearly state that you cannot wear or safely wear a mask. You may be asked if you can wear a mask during screening for a short-duration, only when additional screening may be required (e.g., pat-down) and social distancing is not possible.
If you have a disability or medical condition and are able to comply with the mask-wearing mandate during security screening, medical documentation is not required.
If you have concerns before, during, or after your screening, you may ask for a Passenger Support Specialist or Supervisory TSA Officer.
Mask Mandate and Airlines and Airport Operators.
Independent of TSA’s security screening protocols for providing medical documentation, airlines and airport operators may impose additional measures related to the mask-wearing requirement. Pursuant to CDC guidance, airlines and airport operators may impose requirements, or conditions of carriage, on persons requesting an exemption from the requirement to wear a mask, including medical consultation by a third party, medical documentation by a licensed medical provider, and/or other information as determined by the airport (and aircraft) operator, as well as require evidence that the person does not have COVID-19 such as a negative result from a SAR-CoV-2 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19. CDC definitions for SAR-CoV-2 viral test and documentation of recovery are available in Frequently Asked Questions at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html.
Medical documentation required for TSA security screening may not be sufficient to exempt travelers from wearing a mask while onboard the plane, or while using other areas of the airport (e.g., waiting areas, restrooms, dining facilities). Because airport and aircraft operators are permitted to impose additional measures, TSA advises you to contact the airports and airlines in your travel itinerary to check on their requirements in advance of your scheduled travel.