A US airline has banned a man who refused to wear a face mask on one of its flights.
Conservative activist Brandon Straka ignored requests by crew members to wear a mask on an American Airlines flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Wednesday.
Some 122 passengers were waiting for the flight to leave for Dallas Fort Worth when Mr Straka was ordered off the plane and put on a later flight.
I was just removed from my flight for not wearing a mask. 1st time this has happened. Not a federal law. @AmericanAir staff standing over me telling me it’s THE LAW. So much for “please respect those who can not wear a mask”. When I pointed out this wasn’t a law I was removed.
— Brandon Straka (@BrandonStraka) June 17, 2020
In a statement supplied to Sky News, American Airlines said the incident had been “thoroughly reviewed” and that, as a result of this, Mr Straka “will not be permitted to fly American, as he failed to comply with our stated policy and crew member 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 required 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.”
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Mr Straka had recorded an exchange with a flight attendant on the plane and then posted another video on Twitter after he was sent back to the departure gate.
And he wrote: “I was just removed from my flight for not wearing a mask. 1st time this has happened. Not a federal law. @AmericanAir staff standing over me telling me it’s THE LAW. So much for ‘please respect those who can not wear a mask’. When I pointed out this wasn’t a law I was removed.”
He claimed he was asked by a flight attendant if he had a condition that prevents him from wearing a mask, to which he replied: “Sanity.”
The future of air travel
The incident is among the first of its type since US airlines said this week that they would step up the enforcement of their rules regarding masks.
There is no US law forcing passengers to wear a mask on flights – despite requests from airlines and unions representing aviation workers – but it is airline policy.
The requirements for passengers to wear face masks is among a number of rules brought in by many airlines in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.
Most of the airlines make exceptions for young children, for passengers while they are eating or drinking, and for those with some medical conditions.
More than 118,000 people have died after contracting coronavirus in the US – the highest in the world.
Globally, there have been at least 453,268 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University.