American Airlines Bans Passenger Who Refused To Wear Face Mask

Filed Under: American

Well that didn’t take long — American Airlines has this week promised to step up enforcement of its face mask policy, and just days later the carrier has banned its first passenger.

The passenger American Airlines banned

On Wednesday an American Airlines passenger was removed from a flight for refusing to wear a mask. The issue wasn’t that he didn’t have a mask, or anything, but rather that he was a jerk. He was clearly looking for attention, and didn’t want to wear a mask, because “my body, my choice.”

American Airlines promised to “deny future travel for customers who refuse to wear a face covering,” and that’s exactly what the airline has done here. The way this works, the customer is now banned for the airline for as long as face coverings are required — after that he is free to fly with American again.

As an American Airlines spokesperson describes this decision:

“American Airlines thoroughly reviewed an incident on June 17 involving one of our customers, Brandon Straka. As a result of this review, Mr. Straka will not be permitted to fly American, as he failed to comply with our stated policy and crewmember instructions. We are committed to protecting the safety and well-being of our customers and team members, which is why we strengthened enforcement of our policy for requiring face coverings on board. We expect customers who choose to fly with us to comply with these policies, and if necessary, we will deny future travel for customers who refuse to do so. Restricting travel is a step we take very seriously, and it will only occur after a comprehensive review of the facts of an incident. Mr. Straka will be permitted to fly with us once face coverings are no longer required for customers.”

Expect this to be one of the few bans we see

I commend American Airlines for this move. Not just because this guy was a disingenuous nincompoop, but also because of the message it sends to others who want to be anti-face mask heroes.

That being said, I expect that this will be one of the few situations we see of someone actually being banned from an airline over refusing to wear a face mask:

  • On some level I would assume this is a PR opportunity for the airline, and American wants to create the impression that you can feel safe when flying
  • You have to be looking for trouble to be banned for not wearing a face mask, since typically airlines would just deny you boarding and nothing more
  • The whole reason this went so viral is because the guy was lying about how his conversation with the crew went, as he was seated next to a New York Times reporter who was filming the whole thing

Simply put, American Airlines will only ban passengers after a “thorough review,” and typically that’s not possible since it becomes a case of “he said, she said.” Fortunately in this case there was a recording of the situation, so that made things much easier.

Bottom line

American Airlines banned the passenger who went viral for not wearing a mask, at least until face masks are no longer required on planes. Clearly the guy was looking for attention, and I guess that’s exactly what he got.

While I think this was the right move from American, I don’t expect we’ll see too many others banned from the airline over refusing to wear face masks.

Passengers who don’t want to wear face masks should fly Allegiant Air, which doesn’t require them.

Do you think American Airlines did the right thing here?

Comments
  1. It’s going to become policy at most major airlines. Since FAs are supposed to be “informers, not enforcers” the expectation will be that the FAs report non-compliant passengers to the gate agent, who will then put those passengers on the no-fly list until further notice.

  2. I am currently visiting the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex… almost nobody wears a mask here. It is very stark when juxtaposed with a place like Los Angeles or Chicago. I would expect a good portion of these are probably not eager to wear a mask while onboard.

  3. Thank you!! It’s time to step up the enforcement.

    States with higher mask wearing cultures (NY, NJ, CT) all have lower transmission rates compared to states wear masks are not worn (Texas, Arizona)

  4. Good. I don’t really care if you believe a mask protects you from the virus or not… because it definitely protects others if you have it. Basic social responsibility. God forbid people being slightly inconvenienced if it means doing right by others.

    Muh freedums!

  5. Good on AA for doing that, although as you said this is probably a PR move. Hopefully this will end up with stricter policies and other airlines will follow suit. I really fell bad for front line employees because not only they have to deal with there self entitled jerks, but they are also putting their health at risk to let them fly.

  6. Praise for AA! We have seen every excuse in the book for not wanting to wear a mask in these comments. Fine; get your doctor’s note. In the interim, put on the damn mask.

  7. Took a couple flights with Dennis yesterday. One flight, gate agent provided mask to people who did have one And didn’t allow pass the advent without one. Entering the flight, flight attendant didn’t allow people entering the plane without wearing one. She was polite but forceful. Next flight, neither gate agent nor flight attendant cared if a person didn’t wear mask. First flight, boarding from back to front, second flight, “old” style, first and diamond, than sky miles, etc… No enforcement of “covid” rules.

  8. Dude was on the wrong side of the political fence, so he gets quickly banned. Whereas the lady in the “Justice for Memo!” incident/viral video (lady catches boyfriend looking at another girl, goes nuts, and ultimately cracks the guy over the head with a laptop case while making incidental forceful contact with an intervening FA) is released from temporary police custody without prosecution and likely can still fly AA.

  9. Dude was on the wrong side of the political fence, so he gets quickly banned. Whereas the lady in the “Justice for Memo!” incident/viral video (lady catches boyfriend looking at another girl, goes nuts, and ultimately cracks the guy over the head with a laptop case while making incidental forceful contact with an intervening FA) is released from temporary police custody without prosecution and likely can still fly AA.
    – Zumwalt

    You’re looking for a conspiracy where none exists. Masks never had to be political in the first place.

  10. How will this no-fly be enforced? He can book a ticket without being logged into his account and “by accident” enters his DOB wrong, none will know who he is.

  11. @Zumwalt biggest difference here is that one had an interaction with the police, and one didn’t. And your dude “on the wrong side of the political fence” can still make a reservation with Delta or United or JetBlue or Frontier.

  12. How will this no-fly be enforced? He can book a ticket without being logged into his account and “by accident” enters his DOB wrong, none will know who he is.
    – Skaner

    Ticket has to match your legal identification. Might be able to get away with it, if the check-in agent doesn’t scrutinize your ID too closely, but why would you risk it?

  13. I just can’t fathom why it’s so political to wear a simple mask when interacting with others in a privately owned, confined space. Its not a political statement for me, hell I was half tempted to wear one before Covid-19. Who among us hasn’t gotten sick on a flight, or been next to a person coughing and wheezing and wished for a mask? Even when a vaccine for Covid-19 is found, a mask will now be a permanent part of my travel kit.

    It will not help that, today (June 19), Trump told the WSJ that some wear it to “signal disapproval of him.” I can honestly tell you when I put on my mask the farthest thing from my thoughts is Trump and/or Biden.

  14. @ A:

    You don’t really believe that some gate agent can put a passenger on the airlines blacklist do you!?

    The incident has to be reported to corporate security where it will be reviewed and – if appropriate – action will be taken.

  15. The Stunt worked. He got the attention he wanted and the notoriety so he can leverage it however he wants. The right got the culture warrior or victim they love to have. Now I am waiting to see if this becomes a coordinated political action from the right, we will see. I am glad he got banned.

  16. @Marina – You have no expectation of privacy while out in public. There’s a camera on every ATM, every traffic signal, every cab, every train car, most business doors and most cash registers. Even when no one has their phone out, you are probably on at least one camera. People on their phones generally only pull one out when they see something troubling or funny, the TikTok crowdpleasers.

  17. Yeh, D3kingg, very few people are wearing masks here in Central Florida too, and cases are setting daily records. Stupid is as stupid does…….

    I’ll be flying for the third time on Tuesday in as many weeks. People who have a clue are all wearing their masks. People that want to politicize everything and make their “statement” are not. Flying through Houston, that was painfully clear.

  18. the customer is now banned for the airline for as long as face coverings are required — after that he is free to fly with American again.

    But he will still be a complete ass, even after face coverings are no longer required. American should ban him until he gets over that fundamental condition. And airlines should pool their “no fly asshat” lists so they’re all working from the same, unified list.

  19. Their planes, their rules. Simple as that. Does this guy understand that AA’s business has been nearly destroyed due to this pandemic? If so, you’d think he’d understand that AA would want to try and reduce transmission so they can get their business back to normal. Same goes for all those other businesses out there requiring masks. Mask it up for the next 6 months – 1 year, and quit complaining. It’s not all about you!

  20. He should have been put on a ” warning list ” instead of being banned for an initial offense for a policy that’s new and not being enforced everywhere the same way within the airline itself like Endre pointed out in an earlier post. The guy that kept pounding the passengers seat in front of him throughout the flight for the simple fact she had reclined earlier this year are the people that AA needs to ban from flying. Everyone in China wears a mask and they are still seeing a second wave and spike in the number of Covid cases.

  21. @D3kingg Texas is a big state. I’d say here in Austin people wear masks everywhere. I spent last week in Laredo and Eagle Pass, and I’d say the same thing could be said about South Texas and along the border. Whether or not it is something people are intentionally politicizing, masks do seem to be more prevalent in Texas’ blue counties.

  22. @ Marky Mark – totally agree, esp. in Orlando. Being in medical field when I told many of my community members (where we live) to continue wearing masks, they got infuriated as if I am violating their rights. You walk to Walmart, Target, Lowe’s and Home Depot.. more than 60% have no masks or have zero concept of social distancing.

  23. The body count is about to exponentially increase in Trumpistan for all the freedumb loving cretins who refuse to deal with scientific fact. Good riddance. And I will avoid travel and interaction with these rubes as much as humanly possible until Natural Selection has run its course. We are in the 2nd inning of a 9 inning endurance marathon.

  24. @Frank that’s terrifying, but I guess that will be the future for most of Europe eventually.

  25. Great news… You should sign a waiver at the gate saying if you don’t comply with crew member’s instructions, you will be arrested upon landing.

  26. Like someone said earlier: their planes, their rules. If you don’t like it, fly Allegiant and same applies: their planes, their rules. Let’s not judge, folks. Each to their own. You just need to know what you’re getting into.

  27. I don’t get why you all are so worked up about this. If you are wearing a mask, then you’re supposedly safe. If he doesn’t wear one, he’s the one taking a risk. End of story

  28. DUI laws must end. Everyone should have the right to drink whenever they want, don’t wear a mask when they don’t feel like it. Watch child porn if they please. I have my rights!

    Hogwash.

  29. Dan says:

    June 20, 2020 at 7:59 am

    I don’t get why you all are so worked up about this. If you are wearing a mask, then you’re supposedly safe. If he doesn’t wear one, he’s the one taking a risk. End of story

    ……
    Not true. Masks are more effective at stopping spread than protecting the wearer. It stops some saliva when a sick or asymptomatic infected or pre-symptomatic breathes or talks. Once Covid is in the air, masks are not as good in filtering away.

  30. Thank you Derek for correctly stating why wearing a mask is a public health measure that protects OTHERS. If someone chooses not to wear mask, other than for true medical reasons, that person is blatantly disregarding the health of those with whom he has contact.

  31. Hey Marv do us all a favor and you be the one to stay home tired of your cutsie attempts to be funny. They are really draining!

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