Airline Covid Rules Don’t Apply To The Rich And Powerful

Two weeks ago Congressman Mike McCaul, who is in a tight reelection race, reportedly refused to wear a mask while seated in first class on his United Express flight, Washington Dulles – Austin.

McCaul was on board United flight 6027 operated by Mesa Airlines. He wasn’t kicked off for reportedly refusing to wear a mask prior to pushback. I asked United to comment, including whether Congressman McCaul was still allowed to fly the airline during the pandemic, while masks are ostensibly required. I hoped they’d respond, as American had when Ted Cruz flew maskless, that they’d at least contacted his office. Instead United offered only,

Prior to traveling with United, customers are required to complete a ‘Ready to Fly’ checklist agreeing to our updated travel policies. The checklist states: “You must wear a face covering that fully covers both your nose and mouth in the airport and during your entire flight, unless you’re eating or drinking, for the safety of everyone… Travelers who aren’t wearing their face coverings in the airport or on board may be refused transport and could also lose their travel privileges on future United flights.”

United Airlines has a policy in place to ban passengers who refuse to wear masks, and that ban is supposed to last as long as the mask requirement is in place. United’s flight attendants can even be fired for not wearing a mask.

However members of Congress now call the shots at U.S. airlines, dispensing $25 billion at a time they’re the airline’s most important customer. That’s not really anything new, because for all the talk about airlines having been deregulated they’ve remained one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country. They even turn over management over 9-figure aircraft from the time of pushback to the time of arrival at their next destination. Airlines in the U.S. haven’t ever been responsive primarily to travelers, treating government as their master at least since the Post Office became their biggest customer in the mid-1920s. Politicians get special travel perks, too!

In response to this photo of Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker flying without a mask, under pressure to ‘investigate,’ Delta Air Lines concluded that everyone on the flight complied with the airlines mask rules. Uh huh.

The definitive work in the 1980s on the Chappaquiddick coverup was called Senatorial Privilege. The new privilege seems to be Covid rules for me but not for thee. Mel Brooks said it best in History of the World,

By the way, does anybody doubt that McCall, the fifth-wealthiest member of Congress, would have access to Regeneron’s antibody treatment if his lack of precaution led to his catching Covid-19, but that the rest of the passengers traveling on United 6027 wouldn’t be permitted to have this treatment that has shown both safety and effectiveness so far in clinical trials – and may even have saved the President’s life – but is not yet approved?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Wearing a mask or not, it doesn’t matter in the least, except to the karen rage mob convinced they’ll die if someone isn’t wearing a talisman on their face in the presence of others.

    Kudos to McCaul for ignoring the fake science.

  2. The rich and powerful are quite frequently exempt from rules. That’s the way it’s always been, and the way it always will be. He should’ve worn a mask, but I have a hard time getting worked up over this.

  3. There’s more to the story than the mask.

    Look at McCaul’s district in TX…..Gerrymandering at it’s finest.

    I mean, for real … just look at the map. Yeow!

  4. Too many words in your headline. Should simply read “Rules Don’t Apply To The Rich And Powerful”

  5. The real question for us readers, Gary, is if the rules apply to the bloggers or not?
    or are you not important or rich enough?

  6. Maybe these people realize that they have traveled during flu season before and they aren’t going to exaggerate and stop living their lives because of a virus that produces no or mild symptoms for 95% of those who get it. We can’t live our whole lives in a mask after 6 months.

  7. Mask police doing their virtuous work. Get over yourselves.
    When you sip coffee its okay not to wear masks, but heaven forbid you keep it off for an extra second. As if the virus cares whether you’re eating/drinking or not.
    It’s no wonder no one trusts anything the government says. In March and April, when the pandemic was devastating the country we were told masks are ineffective and do not need to be worn. Suddenly it became absolutely necessary, as if masks were something new that needed to be studied to determine efficiency. Adding insult to injury, Dr Fauci claimed they knew masks were effective but recommended against their use to protect supplies. Scandalous. (blood on their hands?)
    I’m not claiming to know much, but I know enough not to trust politicians.

  8. @Jackson – I’m “not going to exaggerate” but your POTUS you clearly worship was airlifted to Walter Reed and pumped full of experimental drugs and entered the WH maskless

  9. All you duckheads that sneer at masks–go ask Herman Cain what he thinks about wearing a mask.

    What’s that? You can’t? Oh, that’s right, he died of Covid because he didn’t wear a damn mask.

  10. @UA-NYC
    “but your POTUS you clearly worship was airlifted to Walter Reed and pumped full of experimental drugs and entered the WH maskless”

    Yet there was magically no downtime from his Twitter feed. Couldn’t have been that bad!

  11. @Kimmie – You must be a doctor! Did you see his death certificate? “Death by not wearing mask”? Where do you get your inside information?

  12. There remains zero scientific evidence that wearing masks prevents Covid infection, but the hysterical mob will never believe this. Masks are popular because it FEELS like they do something — I know I feel more protected indoors when I wear one — and humans hate to feel powerless, especially about their own safety. On every flight, I see people not wearing masks or wearing them incorrectly. It is particularly prevalent among first class passengers. Personally, I think you should wear your mask because it makes other people feel more comfortable, and that’s good enough for me. But we all know the elite (on all sides of the political spectrum) don’t always play by the rules for “the little people.”

  13. @ Kimmie A- I agree completely, and would like to add, he didn’t realize he was part of the 5% that the poster Jackson Henderson, who is most likely a fake to sow mistrust in everything, wouldn’t know that until he passed.
    Wonder if he utilized a seat belt while driving?

  14. @chopsticks. I appreciate the fact you would wear a mask to make others more comfortable. Not sure what you are reading. There is plenty of evidence wearing a maks prevents droplets from traveling which in turns helps prevent Covid. The Scicnce has shared mask are the most effective way to prevent the spread.

    Regarding the president and his Covid. I like my presidents who have not had Covid.

  15. @Sam – oh he has an army of trolls helping out w/his Twitter feed! If the grammar is too good or the writing too cogent (like his Covid announcement) it’s likely not him.

    But when he has bizarro ones (like today’s “SPACE FORCE. VOTE!”) that’s straight drugged-up whackjob Trump.

  16. Sam, why is it scandalous for a doctor to recommend preserving a limited supply of PPE for healthcare workers on the front lines with MUCH greater exposure than anyone else? Or should healthcare workers not have worn masks to sacrifice themselves for people like you? You’re obviously completely correct when you write “I’m not claiming to know much”.

    Joe, yeah “fake science”. By all means next time you’re ill, if Medieval Barber Theodoric of York isn’t available, just slit your wrists and bleed off a bucket or 2 of blood because modern medicine is just “fake science”. Keep on smoking a pack or two a day, all that “smoking causes cancer” is just more nonsensical fake science. And please be careful on your sailboat, wouldn’t want to get too close to the edge of the flat earth and fall off, that round earth and gravity stuff is even more fake science.

    COVIDIOTS deserve to get sick, with any luck this pandemic will thin their ranks, unfortunately they increase the probability of prudent people (mask wearers) also getting sick and they prolong the pandemic unnecessarily. Keep drinking the Kool-Aid. The real victims of TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) are those who believe a word our Lying, Tax-Cheating, Sex Assaulting, Racist, Misogynist, Moron-in-Chief says. (No disrespect to morons intended.)

  17. Now that we’ve seen so many cases of Covid from Trump’s (unmasked) gatherings, is it still hard to believe that masks could have prevented most of these infections? Just because Trump “thinks” he is smarter than medical scientists, that does not mean his supporters have to be just as stupid as him.

  18. @DJ
    Did Dr Fauci recommend as you said? No! He did not. I would have no problem with the argument you made (that masks should be preserved for healthcare workers). He stated that masks are unnecessary and largely ineffective. That’s very different, and a big problem for me. Sorry, but truth matters. People could have been encouraged to make their own face coverings. If needed, a law or executive order could have been passed compelling the sale of PPE to medical facilities, etc. To state that face coverings are ineffective when you know they are is absolutely scandalous. Or maybe what was said at the outset was true (that masks aren’t too effective). Like I said, I don’t know. But I’m skeptical about everything coming from government.

  19. It doesn’t take much to trigger some folks for sure. I just have to wonder how long you’d have to troll someone on a plane in order to catch them with their mask down for a twitter photo op? What a life. Regardless of all this I have to doubt that a doctor would be bold enough to use experimental drugs on a POTUS but then again President Trump may have ordered them to in an effort to help get this virus under control.

  20. Sam: “Did Dr Fauci recommend as you said?”, yes, he did. He’s also apologized several times for his erroneous early recommendations which he quickly reversed. And as a human being, he should be allowed to be less than perfect. EARLY ON, he said masks were not necessary. Since then he’s been one of the most fervent advocate of masks. Get over it, try to focus on the real problem.

    “executive order could have been passed”, you’re favorite president was too busy bullying others, arranging sweetheart deals for himself and his children, and Tweeting about how wonderful he is and how COVID will magically go away to be bothered with appropriate governance.

    Stop drinking the Kool-Aid, Trump is the proven and well-documented compulsive sociopathic liar.

  21. Joe starts off this thread like the kid who fails to understand even basic science and then peddles the radical magic fairy-dust of his Lord Trump in a world full of science and scientific evidence that escapes his grasp.

    At least his predecessor Joe, Joe Biden, knows better than to believe the Trump fairytales and other fables and goes with the science and scientists of repute.

  22. Sam,

    Trump did take way more of a break for more hours between a October 2nd morning post on Twitter until his October 3rd post than is usual for him.

    The Covidiot Clown-in-Chief still sounds sick because he is still sick with Covid-19, regardless of what his military doctors say. These are the very military medical staff who were repeatedly ordered by Trump to lie for Trump.

  23. US Presidents have always been fair game for being mocked; it’s part of the tradition. But the office has always been respected even when the incumbent is being criticised. Sadly this guy has taken it to a whole new level, offering scenes reminiscent of a puffed-up Pinochet, Franco or one of the Greek Generals from the ‘60s. It seems he’s ‘away with the fairies’ and well into cuckoo land. A while ago his eccentricities were humorous ( albeit unpleasantly so..); now they have a decidedly sinister tone. Roll on November 3rd; it can’t come quickly enough…

  24. False science ? What do you know about science, medicine and infection control protocols? It would appear little to none

    The congressman’s refusal to wear a mask while on board is nothing short of ignorance, stupidity, arrogance and narcissism Who cares if he infects others right? That is his God given right no?

    I blame the airline for putting up with his bs. I would have treated him no differently than any other passenger, congressman or not. Escort him off the plane with security if necessary to send a message to all those skeptics that COVID19 is real and unless we start taking it seriously, we will never be able to control it.

    I am disgusted to hear of such atrocious incidents

  25. Mitch,

    She should go too — as in retire/resign.

    Banning her from common carrier flights would just push her to burn her money flying private more. Not the end of the world.

  26. SARS-CoV-2 has no political affiliation. It smites republicans and democrats alike. Anyone not wearing a mask on an aircraft irrespective of political persuasion should be thrown off the plane period. If it’s a democratic senator then he/she should suffer the same fate. No exceptions This is not about politics. It’s about saving lives The ICU knows no politics

  27. Absolutely correct, COVID knows no politics, as does all of medicine and science. Good thing idiots like GWB and Trump, with their resistance to science and knowledge, have not been in charge for the past 1000 years or we’d still be doing blood letting and animal dung ointments and hanging witches. Trump has definitively proven he cannot govern effectively, only the most zealous racists and bigots support him, he deserves to lose in the biggest landslide “in the history of the USA”. With any fairness, on Thursday January 21, 2021, he and his children will be indicted for the multiple crimes of which they’re guilty. Trump has been precedent setting is many ways, most of them dreadful, first POTUS sentenced to prison would be a suitable precedent.

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