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.
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?