I’m wiling to stipulate that the man removed from an American Airlines flight for failing to wear a mask was a selfish jerk. But I’m also not amused by the flight attendant interrogation of the passenger, which escalated the situation.
Man Ejected From American Airlines Flight For Refusing To Wear Face Mask
You’ll notice that I am not going to name him, here. He deserves no more attention. If you want to find out more about him, One Mile At A Time has nicely profiled him. Instead, I’ll summarize what happened.
- The man was on an American Airlines flight and refused to wear a mask
- A flight attendant asked him if he had a medical condition preventing him from wearing a mask
- He said yes
- She asked if he had “a medical certificate or documentation from a doctor or a letter”
- She then informed him that if he did not want to wear a mask, he could take a corporate jet
The passenger later took to Twitter to tell his version of the events, claiming the conversation went down like this:
Flight Attendant: Excuse me, sir, do you have a condition that prevents you from wearing a mask?
Flight Attendant: May I ask what that is?
It did not. In case you don’t want to take my word for it, a passenger (who happened to be a New York Times reporter) captured the incident on audio:
— Steadman™ (@AsteadWesley) June 17, 2020
Interestingly, there was also a passenger who seemed to stand up for him, telling the flight attendant he did not need to wear a mask because he was from China, then starting to lecture the flight attendant on respect before he was interrupted.
Of Course He Was A Jerk
The government does not mandate that passengers wear masks on airplanes. In fact, the Department of Transportation has specifically rejected calls to make this mandatory. Instead, this is a business decision of a private company. Don’t like it? Don’t fly commercial.
The man claims he is a free-market conservative, yet betrays that movement through his childish antics.
Flight Attendant Conduct Raises Concerns
But I was not amused by the flight attendant’s action. While I understand the “medical” loophole is a huge one, a loophole that will be abused just like the people who abuse airline emotional support animal polices, it is not a flight attendant’s job to be a medical examiner.
She crossed a line when she demanded the passenger produce proof he had a medical condition.
One Mile At A Time says:
“American Airlines: please don’t get this lady in trouble. Give her a raise. Put her in charge of the American Airlines Coronavirus Mask Force.”
I’m not calling for her ouster, to be sure, but she need to be called out as well for probing too much. That is not what she has been trained to do and her actions constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy.
I’ve written about my own medical condition before (that does not prohibit me from wearing masks, by the way). You cannot see this illness at all. You would never know by looking at me that I cannot tolerate the sun. People should not have to divulge sensitive info and “prove” they have a medical issue.
And yes, people should also be honest…
Remember what I wrote a few days ago about masks?
“This policy is geared toward passengers who want to make a point–usually a political point–by not wearing masks.”
And here, the man just wanted to make a political point…
But when he evoked the medical exception, the flight attendant should have just left him alone. It’s why United’s new policy may be passive aggressive, but makes more sense.
image: American Airlines