American Airlines Kicks Self-Upgrader Off Flight For Refusing To Wear Mask

This past Tuesday American Airlines flight AA2248 from Dallas Fort-Worth to San Francisco was delayed when the pilot decided to turn the aircraft back to the gate and offload a woman who refused to wear a mask.

But this wasn’t just any woman and this wasn’t just a mask story. Those have become like Casablanca‘s diamonds, “a drug on the market,” there are maskless passenger stories everywhere, everybody tells those.

Instead what we had on October 20th was a woman who sat herself down in first class, even though she was ticketed in coach. She did that for social distancing. She explained that someone was sitting in her seat in coach, so she upgraded herself into an empty first class seat. She was removed back to the coach cabin by an employee.

So surprise to all the passengers when this same woman wound up returning to the front of the Boeing 737-800 cabin – and leaving the aircraft. The plane had made its way out to the taxiway, and some time after pushback returned to the gate. The self-upgrader was being kicked off the flight. She didn’t have a mask, and though a flight attendant grabbed one from the galley for her that didn’t settle matters.

Back at the gate the woman was wearing the American Airlines-provided mask, pulled her bag out of an overhead bin in first class, and left the aircraft. In all the flight departure was delayed about an hour.

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. I’m assuming seem sentences are missing as this is nonsensical. You’re a great writer Gary – please re-read this one.

  2. Politics aside, with a 99% survival rate, I say it’s time to make masks “optional” for flights. I’ve heard the argument, “we are only temporarily going to be wearing masks so it won’t kill you to wear one.” Ok…it’s been a while now. Recent study about your chance of catching Covid-19 on a flight are incredibly low due to 1. HEPA filters on the plane and 2. the air being dumped overboard and replaced with outside air which is getting rid of all germs and fart particles within the cabin. I say it’s time to make them optional. My 2 cents.

  3. And commenters: stop assuming it’s always “trumpers” with this. It gets so juvenile hearing these comments from you guys.

  4. If it looks like a duck, and it walks like a duck…it’s probably another Trump anti-masker

  5. While I don’t normally come to the defense of Trump supporters, most of the people I’ve seen not wearing masks on flights (or just out in the world) are not your typical Trump supporters. At least in the places I’ve been, it’s been younger urban people (of all ethnic backgrounds).

  6. @james, once again your lack of knowledge and understanding shows up. Stop pushing your idiotic selfishness onto others. Masks work and that is how flying will be safer during this pandemic.

  7. @James…. A “survival” rate indicates someone surviving, ie: not dying, *after* catching COVID-19.
    If you wear a mask you reduce the infection rate; the survival rate increases.
    No mask = higher infection rate.
    C’mon, it’s really common sense by now, surely?

  8. To the people posting on here saying it’s probably another Trump anti maker, trust me there are alot of Democrats out there that do the same thing Pelosi for one.

  9. Sorry me again I have a question, How many of you on here think you won’t have to wear a mask after this is over. They have you conditioned to wear masks so you always will.

  10. I’ve been wondering lately if, once a working vaccine for COVID-19 is introduced, the case is going to be made now for mandatory masks, period when in public, should be mandated due to the “high mortality” rate from the standard flue, regardless of a vaccine being available. After all, over 50,000 people die each year from the flue and transmission is the same as COVID-19. Further, COVID-19 is with us from now on. Even though a vaccine will be available, it can still be potentially fatal if contracted. We have conditioned through the use of (I submit to you) fear tactics to make major adjustments in our world; movie theaters filling for bankruptcy (poor highly paid actors), restaurants having to install “social distancing” measures just to reopen, Mom and Pop stores going out of business, increases in unemployment compensation, etc, etc. Is this a legitimate concern?.

  11. @Dave D
    How does infection rate (mask or no mask) affect Survival Rate? As you wrote MOL, Survival Rate = Infected Survivors/Total Infected. If the Survival Rate is 98% (meaning 98 Survivors/100 Total infected), the number of infections doesn’t change that rate. The only way wearing a mask could reduce the Survival Rate would be to stop infections altogether = 0/0.

    It may be common sense to you, but I don’t get it!

  12. @Dave D: “If you wear a mask you reduce the infection rate; the survival rate increases”

    That is not actually true is it. The infection has the population as the denominator. The survival rate has the infected population as the denominator.

  13. “If it looks like a duck, and it walks like a duck” it is probably UA-NYC pretending to be qualified to be a member of the human race.

  14. I am 78 years old and of high-risk group. People are generally insensitive in different degrees by the so called “out of sight, out of mind” state. I believe that people should wear a mask to protect others, as you may not know if you are infected, and to be protected from others. Despite some claims that the use of HEPA filters lowers risks of contagion, I welcome airlines requirement of mandatory masks while on board.

  15. For commenters saying its low risk of death and time to make masks optional. Air travel is optional, if u dont want to wear a mask dont fly. 250000 dead Americans. Doesnt matter if its a low %, all you need is 1 family member or friend to be impacted, and % does seem to matter.

  16. @Dave D
    If you don’t catch an infection, the survival rate doesn’t go up.
    The survival rate is the number of infected people who do not die (so no impact, if no infection)
    Wearing a mask on flights is good as it will reduce the chances of infection- but an infection is not a death only a small portion of people need hospitalization- probable there are 15 times more cases than reported as positive, which means that mortality is smaller. Just basic mathematics
    Btw, that passenger should be on the no-fly list due to her behavior

  17. @Dan a Trump supporter wouldn’t be stealing a first class seat, he or she would have paid for one using money, miles or loyalty status.

    I’m curious why there is no name or photo like there usually is in cases like this. That’s not a bad thing, just noteworthy.

  18. And this, is why America is destined to land on its azz, rather than its feet… people think they have the right to do as they please, someone took “Land of the free” literally…

  19. Welcome to the Land of the ‘Freedim Flakes’ similiar to ‘Snowflakes’ as they appear’ then disappear, as their ‘freedom’ politics dictate….
    It now appears that “All for One” supersedes , ‘One for All’…
    This is Far from Over…..

  20. Hello everyone,
    I just want to give a few facts about Covid19. I’m a Registered Nurse who works with coronavirus patients. That 99% survival rate is incorrect and misleading at best. This is what I see everyday the hospital I work at.
    1) people who wouldn’t wear a mask before admission being placed on a ventilator within 12 hours of being admitted.

    2) rectal tubes being inserted to catch the liquid stools.

    3) people being strapped to their beds to keep them from pulling out all the tubes attached to them.

    4) looking into the eyes of coronavirus patients and knowing that they won’t make it: yes, they all have a look that nurses now recognize as “pending Covid death”. We won’t tell you, but we know.

    5) here’s one that the news doesn’t mention: most of the survivors who were healthy and independent a month prior to being infected with the coronavirus, are now being transferred out to nursing home facilities because they can no longer walk, feed themselves, sit for more than an hour, or they are still on the ventilator because their lungs never healed. Survival after Covid19 DOES NOT mean having a good quality of life.

    So for the sake of humanity and decency, wear the damn mask. I’m tired of seeing coronavirus horrors that could have been prevented with a simple mask, or by people just staying home.

  21. Maggie
    That’s interesting. So you are saying that wearing a mask protects the wearer? Everything I’ve read or heard says that unless you’re wearing a special type of mask like an N95, which most people aren’t, the mask protects those around us, not ourselves. Is that incorrect?

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