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American Airlines Makes Good On Threat to Ban Passengers Who Refuse to Wear a Face Mask: The First is a Conservative Activist

American Airlines Makes Good On Threat to Ban Passengers Who Refuse to Wear a Face Mask: The First is a Conservative Activist

A Conservative activist has become the first known passenger to be banned by American Airlines for not wearing a face mask on board a flight just days after several major U.S. carriers joined forces to introduce new enforcement rules. Brandon Straka, a former liberal New York City hairdresser turned Conservative darling will be banned from flying American for as long as the face mask rules remain in place according to an airline spokesperson.

Straka was kicked off an American Airlines flight on Wednesday after refusing to wear a face mask despite repeated requests from flight attendants for him to wear one in accordance with the airline’s much-publicized policy. The activist and aspiring actor filmed his reaction getting booted from his flight in a live Periscope video claiming flight attendants mistakenly told him it was a legal requirement to wear a face mask.

While Straka says flight attendants should respect passengers who can’t wear a face mask, in a later Tweet he appeared to claim his only reason for refusing to wear a face-covering was “sanity” – suggesting there is no medical or scientific evidence the backup American’s face mask policy. There is, however, a growing body of scientific evidence that proves face masks can help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 in enclosed public spaces where physical distancing is difficult.

American Airlines requires all passengers to wear a face mask or covering onboard its aircraft but there are exemptions for young children, as well as passengers with certain medical conditions or on religious grounds. The airline will deny boarding to anyone not wearing a mask at the gate but flight attendants have been encouraged not to try and force passengers to wear a mask if they refuse once onboard.

“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,” a statement from the Dallas Fort Worth-based airline read.

“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 onboard,” the statement continued.

“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 will only occur after a comprehensive review of the facts of an incident.”

Airlines say the vast majority of passengers have been complying with mandatory face mask policies introduced in early May but were forced to start “vigorously enforcing” the rules following an uptick in non-compliance. As well as American Airlines, both Delta and United Airlines say they will put passengers on ‘no-fly’ lists if they refuse to wear a face mask.

Similar policies have been introduced by Alaska, Hawaiian, jetBlue and Southwest Airlines. Initially, it appeared the new enforcement rules and threats of banning passengers might turn out to be toothless – American has just proved that’s not the case at all.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has so far refused to step-in and introduce temporary rules that would make the wearing of face masks onboard aircraft legally enforceable. Such legal rules have been introduced in Canada, as well as in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

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