News and Commentary

Man Kicked Off Flight Over Comment Written On Mask

The mask purportedly had "Let's Go Brandon" written on it.
Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Before takeoff, a passenger on an Allegiant Air flight was asked to leave the plane over a “comment” he had written on his mask. The flight attendant who confronted him asked him to put on a different mask. He asked if that was a violation of his rights, prompting her to cite an “FAA regulation” as the reason for her decision.

Some have claimed that “Let’s Go Brandon” was written on the mask.

“Allegiant confirmed to Fox Business that the passenger was removed but claimed it was because he was disobeying the flight attendant. Allegiant wouldn’t confirm whether or not the passenger had been unruly or violated the policy based on the slogan, nor where the flight departed or was headed,” The Daily Mail reported, adding that Allegiant released a statement that read:

The video in question depicts part of an incident involving a passenger who failed to comply with repeated crew member requests to adhere to the federal face mask policy…. The passenger was removed from the flight and issued a refund for his fare. Disregarding instructions from flight crew members is prohibited by federal regulations and is grounds for removal from a flight where such conduct creates an unsafe environment…

The decision to remove a passenger is never made lightly and is always done with the safety of our passengers and crew in mind. In April, the FAA adopted a zero-tolerance policy against unruly passenger behavior, which includes failure to comply with crew members’ instructions. We welcome the FAA’s renewed strong stance on unruly passengers, understanding the safety risk such incidents can create for both passengers and crew.

Some political messages have been tolerated and even promoted by airlines; in September 2020, in the wake of the summer-long riots across the country sparked by the death of George Floyd, CBS News reported that American Airlines permitted its employees to wear a Black Lives Matter pin on their uniforms. “The decision comes after American Airlines employees saw people at other companies wearing BLM pins and asked if they could do the same,” CBS News noted.

American Airlines issued a statement saying:

American Airlines believes in equity and inclusion for all…Fundamentally, we believe Black Lives Matter is an expression of equality, not a political statement…It doesn’t mean other lives don’t matter, rather that in our society Black lives should matter and be valued the same as others. We are showing our support for our Black colleagues and customers who have experienced discrimination and injustice, not any particular organization. This decision underscores our belief that all people, regardless of race, gender or ethnicity, deserve to be treated with equality and respect.

In October 2020, it was reported that United Airlines would introduce an optional Black Lives Matter (BLM) pin for employees and also to customers. United issued a memo to employees that stated:

During a time when it can be tough to have open conversations about race and equality in our country, and possibly even more challenging to show a commitment toward ending systemic racism — United has stepped up, created companywide forums to encourage an open dialogue and put in place a series of steps that demonstrate our dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Now we’re proud to take that responsibility further by offering our employees and customers the opportunity to purchase a custom-designed, branded Black Lives Matter pin, with proceeds dedicated to an important, nonprofit cause.

As a global company with diverse employees around the world, we are proud to stand alongside a growing number of large public-facing corporations and big brands that have prominently supported our common humanity.

Jessica Kimbrough, United’s Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, echoed, “This new pin is voluntary for our employees and just one way of saying that we stand in support of the dignity, respect and safety of our Black colleagues and customers.  And we recognize that anything less does not fit with our core4 values.”

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