German flag carrier Lufthansa booted a serving head of government off one of its plane after they repeatedly refused to wear a face mask in contravention of the airline’s strict pandemic rules.
The revelation was confirmed by Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr in an interview with the German newspaper Spiegel (paywall) which was published on Saturday.
“As with every other guest (who refuses to wear a face mask), our flight attendant politely asked the gentleman to put on the mask,” Spohr told the newspaper. The VIP was asked twice to wear a mask but didn’t comply with the crew member’s instructions.
“After that, the cabin manager went to him,” Spohr continued. “Once. Twice. When nothing happened then, the captain made sure that the guest was escorted off by the federal police. I fully support our crews, there is no preferential treatment here.”
Spohr remained tight-lipped on who the high-ranking mask refusnik was but confirmed he remains in office somewhere in the world.
Lufthansa has some of the strictest face mask rules of any airline in the world and refuses to allow passengers onboard if they only have a reusable cloth mask. As is the case in much of Germany, passengers are encouraged to wear a protective FFP2, N95 or KN95 mask, although surgical masks are permitted at a push.
Passengers who are exempt from wearing a face mask must present a negative COVID-19 test certificate and a doctor’s note.
Despite Lufthansa’s tough stance, Spohr doesn’t, however, believe face masks rules will be around for much longer. “Many states are relaxing their requirements or abolishing them completely, this will also happen in Germany,” Spohr said.
Most German states have already significantly eased face mask rules as of Saturday with mandatory mask-wearing lifted in the majority of public settings like restaurants and shops. The mask mandate does, though, remain in force on public transport and long-distance transport.
Frankfurt Airport now says passengers can enter the airport without wearing a face mask but one will be required as soon as they get to the aircraft door.
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.