A Spirit Airlines traveler was asked to cover his mask for being offensive, but was it?
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Asked to Cover His Mask
A passenger on a Spirit Airlines flight (stated to have taken place on January 28th, 2022) documented himself in a video that was widely shared on social media wearing an LED lighted mask that scrolled the “Let’s Go Brandon” meme and “FJB.” The passenger was also wearing a hat that appeared to say “Trump” on the back, “45” on the front (President Donald Trump was the 45th president) as well as a “Let’s Go Brandon” sweatshirt.
The (likely edited) video posted begins before the Spirit Airlines flight attendant addresses the passenger and appears to be filmed by the mask wearer (he says as much.)
A flight attendant addressed the passenger:
Off-camera Flight Attendant (FA): “Can you turn it off?” [refers to the face covering, repeats the question.]
Passenger: “Is there – I’ll wear that one, but-” [receives a blue surgical mask off-camera]
Second Off-camera FA: “We’re not gonna let you…” [unclear audio]
Passenger: “I mean, excuse me, um, I’ll, I’ll wear this but she didn’t give me a reason? Do I have to turn it off? Like, is there a reason?”
Second Off-camera FA: “Because it’s offensive.”
Passenger: “It’s offensive?”
Second Off-camera FA: “It can be to some people so we’re not going to go back and forth, just go ahead and put the blue one on, ok?”
Passenger: “Ok, so my mask is offensive.” [unwraps plastic around surgical mask]
Second Off-camera FA: “That’s fine but you-”
Passenger: “I’m just asking a question. I’m not being confrontational, it’s just-”
Second Off-camera FA: “Ok, so we’re gonna put the blue one on, right?”
Passenger: “Yes, sure.” [pauses] “Wow, this is not America anymore.” [places blue mask over blinking LED mask]
An additional video made by the same passenger was shot in the middle of de-boarding and he had an exchange as he left with two employees before he ultimately exited the plane. In those exchanges, he drew a parallel to his message and BLM that the airlines did not share.
“Hat not offensive, shirt not offensive, shoes not offensive…” let me stop you right there. Those shoes are offensive regardless of your political affiliation.
Throughout the video, the passenger is wearing a mask and at one point (though suspected throughout the rest of the flight, two) and remained in compliance with the mask policy until landing. From what we can tell he never failed to wear a mask and complied with the FAA directive as guided by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.) As he disembarked the video suggests that Spirit Airlines resolved the issue their staff had with the mask once he complied. There was no need to call the police and no mention that at arrivals, officers were waiting as has sometimes been the case with onboard disturbances.
I reached out to Spirit over the weekend but have no official statement to report on the matter.
Origination of Let’s Go, Brandon
Chanting “Let’s Go, Brandon” has been a rally cry for anti-Biden conservatives as a stand-in for a more explicit version “F— Joe Biden.” While the explicit versions have been heard at major sporting events throughout the fall and spring, the fit-for-print version was the result of either a misunderstanding or genuine effort to cover up the bad language during a live broadcast of the Nascar Xfinity Series Race.
Winning driver, Brandon Brown, was being interviewed by Reporter Kelly Stavast when the chants against President Joe Biden became so loud they could no longer be ignored. However, while it’s clear in the broadcast seen by the at-home audience what the crowd was chanting, the reporter may have not been able to make it out clearly at the time. The assertion is that it was an attempt by mainstream media to cover up the clear displeasure for the president and some unpopular edicts like the vaccine mandate which has drawn ire.
What Is Offensive, Acceptable?
Some would argue, if the meaning is the same, that really doesn’t change the message just because alternative words are used. Others would say that there is a line and saying the actual words are what is offensive, not the alternative words.
While the words were not explicit, he did not violate the law, and he is able to make free political statements outside of Spirit’s aircraft. But just as freedom of speech and invoking one’s first amendment right applies to public settings, in private environments (like Spirit’s aircraft), speech can be limited as they see fit and the passenger accepted this when he bought and flew his ticket.
There’s also the argument that the sentiment itself is offensive, but that goes out the window pretty quickly given the social decorum on both sides of the aisle over the last 5-6 years in the United States. Every manner of anti-Trump gear was seen around the country during his tenure. Before he had put his hand on the Bible and taken the oath of office, Madonna publicly stated she’d thought about blowing up the White House.
What this really comes down to is: what is offensive, and who gets to decide? For example, the wearer doesn’t mention the “FJB” component of his scrolling mask, just the “Let’s Go Brandon” portion. Yet his sweatshirt had the same message and he was allowed to wear that on the plane (whether the FAs saw it or not is another matter.)
The passenger also lied in at least one video saying, “it’s my name, Brandon” though his other posts indicate he is named Adam. The FA was having none of it and challenged them on what “Let’s Go, Brandon” means.
Recently, model Olivia Culpo was told to cover up over a revealing top, though another passenger who spoke with the model and flew the same American Airlines flight was not told to cover up despite her own admission that she was revealing more.
Other employees stood by while Spirit staff allowed the passenger to board without a noted incident, so it’s clear (as it was in other cases) that individual employees are allowed to make that subjective call.
Brands, like Spirit, also have to consider their employees and the broader perspective of stakeholders.
Still, it begs the question – what is “offensive”, who gets to decide, and what can they do about it? In this instance, the mask but not the shirt, hat, nor shoes were offensive, the flight attendant gets to decide, and they can offer a reasonable accommodation to the customer or they can fly on another flight, possibly with another airline.
What makes this difficult is that this will likely vary from flight to flight and encounter to encounter. Wearing a “Let’s Go, Brandon” shirt on one flight might be fine but the next time might warrant disembarkation.
It’s also worth noting that this passenger seemed to be intentionally provocative though not disruptive and the Spirit staff replied in kind.
Lucky at One Mile At A Time notes that the statement is intentionally offensive and he’s right, but some of his other conclusions are not.
“Should I be allowed to wear a mask that says I’m going to blow the plane up, without suffering any consequences? Should I be allowed to dine at an Olive Garden naked? Are people truly this stupid, or just dense?”
I respect Lucky, and he’s right that there are rules of society – but comparing the words “Let’s Go, Brandon” with yelling fire in a movie theater or bomb on a plane doesn’t apply here. They are not the same.
On Friday, a Spirit Airlines Flight Attendant, mask, and passenger were at odds over the message on that mask. What remains at issue is why a portion of the message was permissible, and a portion was not. Secondary issues as to whether an even hand is used for political statements when expletives are not used remain an industry-wide issue and one that faces businesses more widely than the travel sector.
What do you think? Was the traveler’s mask offensive? What’s the future of subjective determination by employees? What are the consequences for travelers, or customers more broadly?
The left’s reflex is to censor.
It is shameless and pathetic. Some people are happy being miserable.
I think freedom of expression is importamt. We can’t let the snowflakes prevent teaching about critical race theory or evolution just because it hurts their feelings.
White slave owners were scum. And their descendants today who minimize the effects of that slavery today are also scum.
I dint see the harm in someone wearing some encouraging words for Brandon, whoever he is. Why even care.
This is what happens when you operate on the margins.
I liken it to my manufactured spending which is done on the margins. Not illegal but certainly can be offensive. If I get burned I consider it the cost of business in this manner.
People who wear these fashion statements are also living on the margins. They can expect to get away with it most the time (like I do MSing) but can expect to get burned and frustrated on occasion.
Right and wrong gets blurred on the margins. If you’re too thin skinned to take the heat that comes from pushing the envelope, then don’t do it.
a) The things liberals said about Trump weren’t controversial. Why is this?
b) Why do liberals all of a sudden believe in censorship?
That type of authoritarianism is this?
They kneel at the foot of big business, big tech, big pharma and big government?
It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
100% agree. The only name the liberals called Trump when he was president was his own name. Everything else was acceptable by them. Now, suck it up because LGB is very mild for what this puppet deserves.
No puppet! No puppet!. You’re the puppet!
LOL!!! Have you taken your Metamucil today? Your brain was washed and you didn’t notice.
All I’m doing is quoting your hero
The Democrat party is becoming very much like the Chinese Cimmunist Party
They are making up rules then refuse to follow them. Then they try and cencel those who dare to call them out or dare to oppose them
I ignore a lot of these people. Such as the ones that stare and laugh because I wear a mask. I realize they are either jerks that live for confrontation or just jerks. Life is to short for such foolishness. As long as no approaches me physically it’s all good. These people come prepared with recording equipment and the hope that someone ,anyone will notice them. That’s what gives them validation in life.
More disappointing that this Patriot is so down on his luck he had to fly Spirit.
I would say ‘the message was not offense’ (though I don’t support it) but I think there is a case to be made that flashing LED’s and a message on the mask once on-board is disruptive. If he had turned it off my opinion it should have been fine. Seems to be what the FA’s we getting at. Mileage may vary!!!! Though you have Free Speech and can burn a flag, you cant burn a flag on an airplane nor really does the First Amendment apply on a private airplanes with Rules of Carriage . First Amendment is between you and the government, not private business. Alas, he was asking plain questions and they also should have answered him in plain answers.
It’s hilarious how leftists with their leftist made-up policies lose their [redacted by admin] whenever “Brandon” is mentioned.
I don’t remember liberals going on planes wearing anti Trump gear. Only Republicans are trashy enough to do that. People selling this apparel know that poor republicans are marks so they make a fortune off these bozos.
But they definitely wore pro-BLM gear, which is sponsored and/or advocated for by these same large corporations/airlines.
Nah, not equivalent. The statement “black lives matter” is in support of a marginalized group. The only way to be offended by that is if you think they should remain marginalized.
Blacks are NOT marginalized, execpt in the mind of white liberals
Take it from someone who is of mixed race. There is no institutional racism, other than that from the Democrat party saying that blacks are too dumb to obtain an ID to vore
Regardless of whether employees are empowered to enforce their views about what is appropriate, what definitely isn’t appropriate is the interrogation of the passenger as to what the text means. What I find astonishing is that people don’t seem to be making a fuss about that part of the story- which, in my view at least, should be condemned whether you think that the mask itself is appropriate or not.
What next? Valet parking employees challenging the content of bumper stickers? Baristas asking customers to justify displaying religious symbols? Where do you draw the line?
@PM – The slippery slope is what concerns me most. Someone will forever be offended by both the offensive, the unoffensive, and the gray area in between – what’s at issue is punting that choice from a brand level to frontline employees who have differing views, Issues that needn’t escalate will do so unnecessarily because there is no baseline.
I understand this blog is ultimately a business that needs traffic but picking up on TPG2’s screed is not helpful. TPG2 seems to be super intelligent, which makes his sloppy post on this topic notable. Kyle has a more balanced presentation. In agreeing to terms of carriage you have agreed to abide by requests of crew and other employees regarding appropriate behavior. TPG2 puts up this red herring and then conveniently ignores that this knucklehead on Spirit did comply with the request. Wear whatever you want to an airport. Personally, I don’t care. If an employee of the airline asks you to cover it (or asks some no-name model to put on more clothes), you comply or you choose to leave the plane. It really is that binary. Can somebody please find Ben. TPG2 is getting tedious.
I guess Ben over at OMAT got what he wanted with reader engagement or clicks. In reality, he is just acting as a judge of all things. The guy on the airplane may have been a jerk but saying he is evil or even stupid for having a political opinion is just wrong. I don’t think Ben would agree with me that I’m offended by gay pride clothing or “OMG” motto’s on clothes or marketing. Am I wrong, no. It’s offensive to me. The problem with coming up with rules on freedom of speech is who gets to decide. Joe Biden? AOC? Donald Trump? Ben? Wearing something that says “FJB” isn’t offensive if you agree with it. It’s only offensive if you don’t. I think it’s in poor taste personally but then again I don’t like Ozzy Osborne T-shirts either. Who decides that is the question.
They were given the new job, as custodians of our peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior: official censors, judges, and executors. That’s you, Montag, and that’s me.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
@DanInMCI – Whenever Bradbury or Orwell are quoted we are all in big trouble.
Just as acceptable as a Black Lives Matter face mask. If one is banned, so should the other be.
BLM is only offensive if you don’t think black lives matter and you support their continued marginalization.
billy bob,don,jan and derek…correct in that the left only censors the right never themselves and what they say about our former President Trump or those who worked with him,.. The internet,TV, and hi tech is totally run and censored by the Left dnc billionaires .
Perhaps everyone could just grow up and stop attacking other people. Keep your own life in order and don’t worry about judging others. If our country would get back to governing instead of grandstanding and trying to exert party affiliation, we would all be better off. I find it pitiful that this is even a topic for a travel blog.
I think you will find that inside aircraft cabins are, legally, public areas. Check it out
If they are indeed deemed public areas, people can wear what they want….
Nope. It’s totally up to the airline to decide what is and isn’t appropriate attire or behavior. They are in charge of the plane and when you buy your ticket you agree that whatever they say goes. Prohibiting airlines from having the ability to do that would be a denial of their free speech as a private entity.
@Chasgoose – You’re right that it’s up to the airline, but in this case, the airline has deflected those decisions to the frontline workers rather than naming it. As I mention in the post, other Spirit employees were not offended by his mask and allowed him to board, so the issue at hand is that what seems appropriate to the traveler and may have been fine on a previous flight, might be deemed entirely unacceptable on the next one or could even result in not being able to travel (in the case of clothing rather than a mask.) That’s the issue at hand, how does a customer know what’s ok and not ok when they aren’t using explicit language, violent images, or obviously revealing attire?
I think the problem is where he has “FJB” at the end. I would be equally open to making someone cover up a “FDJT” mask. I think it’s reasonable to ban people from wearing profanity laced clothing items on airplanes. Obviously this guy wanted attention and he got it, so now he’s pretending to be outraged.
And to all the people on the right talking about leftist censorship, let’s talk about all the topics you’re trying to ban from schools because kids should never feel “uncomfortable”. That’s truly infringing on the first amendment.
First amendment doesn’t apply to school teachers at work lol parents have every right to address concerns with any curriculum the school is planning on teaching. Based on your logic a kindergarten teacher can teach students about sex and drugs and the parents would not be able to do a thing about it, thank god your wrong on your assumption and definition of the 1st amendment when it applies to schools and minors and parents.
The bigger issue here is that there are grown adults that spend money to wear clothing with another person’s name on it, when that person doesn’t know the first person exists or cares if they live or die. Like this guy with the Trump hat, Trump wouldn’t lift a finger to save that guy’s life.
Same goes for any adult wearing a jersey of an athlete. Total loser behavior.
How about we call them transparent? I mean who really cares? These people are so desperate to be recognized and their egos stroked and this is what they come up with? If they want to be viewed as a fascist and racists so be it. They bring shame upon no one but themselves.
Do you really think Joe Biden cares? Joe’s been around long enough to recognize these people for what they really are, as well as the rest of the world.
Biden doesn’t care, or even know. Because Joe’s been around long enough, period, and is barely sentient at this point except when he needs to make another racist speech.
Well… he can drink a glass of water with one hand, walk down a ramp unassisted, and can hold his bowels… so at least he’s got that going for himself
Come on, man! By the same token — sure, he might be able to walk down a ramp unassisted, but he certainly cannot climb stairs on his own. Remember, when he completely ate it on the way up to AF One?
Fake news! I choose to believe the alternate fact that that was really JFK Jr. impersonating Biden so that he could make him look bad and set up his run with Trump in 2024
He can’t even talk on his own. He reads what they want the puppet to say. He is not in control of himself.
I suggest the billboard maskers to tune those to sports ,I’m sure the people will be reading The results Basketball , or NFL , OR NASCAR , it would do great for us and him , because as I read and seen the video it brings back those adds were cave men could not comunícate !
Hey Matthew, you don’t even know anything about the industry. Those people work for PSA, they’re not hard working AA Flight Attendants that have never ever made a mistake. They’re PSA, or Envoy, or Republic. GET. A. CLUE!!!!!!!!1
whoops! Sorry, wrong post.
Really, the passenger and all these comments are not worth my time or attention. I will ignore these clothing items just like I’ve ignored the red T…..hats for years. Stay masked, and stay out of my space, and I can continue to ignore all the ignorance you all display.
Exactly. And the same goes for everyone on the other team. Just ignore THEIR ignorance they insist to proudly display. True adults don’t choose to take offence. They choose to say “no thank you” and move on. It’s really not that hard. But unfortunately some people actually enjoy being unhappy/angry and actually choose to take offence. I ignore those people also.
Ben’s comments reveal a lot about him as an individual. LGB is as much mocking the media as much as it mocks Biden. What a pity that there are some who don’t see the wider picture.
It is hard to believe these days, but additional new reasons to not travel by air are still cropping up.
Tensions are already high on many flights. Wearing a mask, cap or t-shirt with a slogan that might offend someone else is asking for trouble. Best to leave the politics on the ground.
It’s offensive to you the writer clearly. Did the F Trump sentiment offend you for four straight years? I highly doubt it. Airlines are private business and they can restrict speech? Ok then bakers do not have to bake gay wedding cakes either. Or does this only apply when it censors conservative sentiment?
Artistic expression is protected speech. I’m for the baker…totally different issue. And I’m strongly against bad language of any kind, including that directed against Trump.
So be a constructive citizen and don’t say Let’s Go Brandon.