A flight attendant working on a United Express flight to Houston stands accused of accepting cash bribes off passengers to not enforce the federal mask mandate. The controversial mandate was due to expire on Tuesday but last month President Biden ordered the Transportation Security Administration to extend the mask rules through January 18, 2022, citing rising COVID-19 infection rates as the main reason.
On Monday, a passenger aboard United Express flight UA6063 from Charleston claims the flight attendant working the First Class cabin accepted a cash bribe off a passenger “for not enforcing the federal mask mandate THE ENTIRE FLIGHT”.
Taking to Twitter, Megan Rose posted photos of a passenger apparently handing over what appears to be a dollar bill to the flight attendant. The flight was operated by Phoenix-based Mesa Air which provides regional services for United Express, as well as American Eagle. The flight attendant is employed by Mesa and not United Airlines.
United Airlines introduced a strict face mask policy long before the federal mask mandate was introduced and the carrier requires all customers aged two and over to wear a mask at all times onboard its aircraft.
Passengers may remove their masks while eating and drinking but United’s official policy states that passengers need to continue wearing their masks “between bites and sips”.
In one photo posted to Twitter, passengers onboard the United Express flight appear unmasked while holding glasses of wine.
Ms Rose also claims the flight attendant “served & provided to-go alcohol” to the passengers who are accused of offering the “bribe”. United quickly reached out to Megan, saying they wanted to “take a closer look into this”.
Both United and Mesa Air have been contacted for comment.
Alcohol and the mask mandate have been cited as two of the main reasons for a surge in unruly passenger incidents since the start of the year resulting in the FAA handing out more than $1 million in civil penalties to disruptive passengers.
United has largely avoided the worst of the problems and the airlines continue to offer alcohol in every cabin. Last week, Southwest said it would push back the resumption of alcohol sales onboard until the federal mask mandate is lifted.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.