Airline Passenger Refuses To Wear Mask, Lights Up A Cigarette

Airlines announced they were taking masks seriously, and that passengers could be banned from flying for non-compliance. American Airlines even added a conservative activist who videotaped his refusal to wear a mask to their no fly list, until the end of the mask requirement. But how real is this until airline employees – some of whom had to fight for the right to wear a mask – actually wear them consistently?

Despite airline requirements, customers continue to flout the rules. And one passenger did so with enough of a flair for the dramatic that his flight actually diverted. Not only did he refuse to wear a mask, he sat back and lit up a cigarette. (HT: Live and Let’s Fly)

A WestJet flight from Vancouver to Toronto diverted to Winnipeg. The man’s lawyer now calls it all a misunderstanding, saying there was “a language barrier” apparently he couldn’t read the signs in the airport, understand the crewmember instructions, and thought he was ok to smoke on board as well.

“They were advised this male had lit up a cigarette on board and was also not listening to any of the directions from the flight crew which included to don his personal safety mask as well,” said Cpl. Julie Courchaine of the Manitoba RCMP.

Police say a 60-year-old man from Surrey B.C., Balvir Singh, was arrested and taken into custody. He’s been charged with several offences — including failing to comply with the flight crew’s instructions to wear a face mask. …[he] has also been charged with public mischief over $5,000 and two charges under Canadian Aviation Security regulations for smoking on board and failing to comply with the flight crew’s instructions.

I’d point out this happened on a Canadian domestic flight. You can’t blame Trump.

A week ago I asked readers to help me understand why there’s such an aversion some people feel towards mask-wearing. I really don’t think this is political, in the usual sense. There are mainstream Democrats on The Coasts who refuse.

There’s a huge distrust of institutions and experts, who have failed us. The CDC and Surgeon General recommended against masks, before they started recommending wearing them. The bureaucracy failed to properly implement the China travel ban and allowed the virus to enter the country and spread unchecked. They limited access to testing, produced test kits that didn’t work, and sent COVID patients from hospitals and into nursing homes where they infected others.

It seems natural to be skeptical of leaders that have failed us. So when they tell us to wear masks, after telling us not to, it’s frustrating and the only way we have to reclaim dominion over ourselves is to feel like we’re making decisions for ourselves. The overwhelming evidence, since early times when anti-mask recommendations came out (and may have even been noble lies) is that masks really do reduce spread. But now many people won’t listen.

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, 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. We flew out of LAX on Tuesday and Delta flight attendants on a parking shuttle bus were not masked despite explicit signs requesting masking. During the flight a flight attendant was not masked as well, wearing it around her chin. Also Delta.

  2. You can’t blame Trump? Oh, please his ancestor worked in the Yukon so, by Democrat Standards, everything that happens in Canada is all his fault! We can blame him directly for everything from moose on the train tracks to Canadian Geese illegally crossing our border.

  3. I am SO SICK of these stupid mask-waring liberal IDIOTS! They claim masks are necessary, but the ONLY reason they ware them is to make Trump look bad! They have no evidence, and no sence either. Don’t you dare try to make me ware a mask! (and remember, we have the second amendment for a reason)

  4. @Tom
    It’s intentionally ignorant people like you who are extending the life of this pandemic with your incredibly misinformed views. Please stop getting your information from right-wing bloggers and listen to the medical community.
    Even as I write this, I know you will never let facts get in the way of your politics.

  5. @ Aloha and Tom

    Nice of you guys to post from the stadium in Tulsa. Have a good time at the Trump rally tonight. And, remember, face-masks are optional..

  6. Flights have been non smoking for a very long time now. Claiming to not know about it is just silly.

    Please also check the data on the source of the virus. Increasingly, it is looking likely that Europe was the biggest contributor for the infection in the US, not China. Given the sheer volume of traffic, it does sound plausible.

  7. @Tom, the airlines are private companies. If they say you have to wear a mask you have to wear a mask, or you can find yourself some other way to get where you are going. I don’t want people like you anywhere near me on the plane, and the airlines know they have a responsibility for passenger safety. And no, the 2nd Amendment doesn’t let you take your guns on the plane, so you’ll have to find some other way to threaten the crews.

  8. @ Tom – Comrade, English, is a difficult language –

    I am sure you meant wear as in to place something upon your body or to show use – As in the brakes on his car showed signs of wear after all the hard stops he made, and not ware as in a product

    Additionally Comrade – I think you meant “sense” as in the ability to perceive or understand not Sence a river in England.

    Please remember, no one needs to make Trump look bad… he’s fully capable of that himself. Again Comrade, please stick to the script President Putin has issued.

  9. The reason people don’t want to wear masks is because they don’t prevent the wearer from getting the virus. North Americans have basically taken the view to “ask not what you can do for your countrymen, ask what your countrymen can do for you.” And that POV existed long before COVID-19. It’s just that this belief no longer just affects people’s wallets, it affects their lives.

  10. +1 Geoff! I just noticed those same errors in Tom’s English, but you’ve beaten me to the correction!
    It’s so funny when somebody makes such errors while calling other people “IDIOTS!” It reminds me of the time when somebody posted at me somewhere, “Your an idiot.” So I posted back, “No, my not an idiot!” 😀

  11. I’m generally fairly compliant but I took a two-hour flight yesterday within Europe and did not enjoy the experience. Just the regular blue mask. It’s OK breathing in but breathing out just gave me a face full of warm, humid air. My glasses did not appreciate that at all. My next scheduled flight is Detroit in mid-July. I’m not sure I can do that for 8/9 hours.
    Are there masks that one can wear for extended periods?

  12. I love some of these comments, WileyDog, I agree with you, look at other countries who worked together and they have been able to hold this virus back. Look at the TOMS of the United States and they are holding us all back. Masks are uncomfortable for a long time, just like Airfarer said, there are some which are more breathable. I have used one from RV Masks with vents on them, you have to be careful with some of these masks because they keep the bad air out but let your air which could be bad out. When I wear the mask, I can breathe my glasses do not fog and I wear a disposable over top of it. There are many other innovative options being released, even as I write this, I see an advertisement for a mask with a vent, think I will buy one and check it out.

  13. Please unsubscribe me from this blog. I was unable to locate an unsubscribe button. I recently subscribed believing that I would get non-political information dealing with traveling. I was wrong. I am disappointed that Gary Leff finds it necessary to intersperse his Trumpian views throughout his articles.

  14. Freedom to do what you want, but, for example, your freedom to stretch your arms stops at the end of my nose. So, your freedom not to wear a mask stops with your ability to infect me.

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