If you have a waiver with American Airlines, you will receive a free blocked seat and priority boarding.
Gary Leff on February 21, 2021.
Before President Biden’s executive order mandated the wearing of masks aboard planes – which was already the case – airlines, including American and Southwest, had no exemptions. As I predicted, the government is now allowing exemptions for people with medical problems.
According to an internal memo from American Airlines seen by View From The Wing,
The federal government has issued a safety directive requiring airlines to make exceptions for people with disabilities who cannot wear safe masks, as provided in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
And anyone who takes the masked exception to American now also gets an empty seat next to them and priority seating. But they must sit in the last row of the cabin, whether it’s coach cabin or business/priority class. Here’s how this process works.
Once authorized, American Airlines:
- Place the passenger in the last row of the cabin, leaving the seat next to it empty (if the flight is completely full, officials must “make every effort to place the released passenger on a flight with more seats”).
- Have them on board
- Briefing for crew to release passenger mask.
American recognizes that other passengers may not want to sit next to someone not wearing a mask. But seat blocking is an odd measure for an airline to say that seat blocking does not create significant social distance, so it has not made it available to customers, as Southwest and Alaska have done, and as Delta continues to do.
This also creates problems for the flight attendants, since the last row of the bus is where the crew sits (subject to availability). Passengers without masks sit in these seats, leaving the other seats empty – the flight attendants’ seats cannot be used. And currently flight attendants sit a lot because there is not much service.
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