‘Eye Mask Karen’ Confiscates Passenger’s Mask: They’re For Business Class Customers Only

A JetBlue flight attendant confronted a passenger in coach and confiscated their eye mask because they weren’t flying business class – and JetBlue eye masks are for business class customers only.

The passenger asked about an eye mask when they boarded, and they were told no – there’s only one amenity kit boarded for each passenger in business class. A woman seated up front offered hers to the man. JetBlue gave it to her – and she gave it to him. But a member of the cabin crew would have none of it. And there’s video of Eye Mask Karen policing the transaction.

Here’s how the conversation went down:

Crewmember: “Sir, I need to take that mask please.”
Person in steerage: “Uh, sorry?”
Crewmember: “You didn’t buy a Mint seat, so you can’t use the Mint products.”
Person in steerage: “Do you have snooze kits available for sale?”
Crewmember: “Those kits are not available for sale. You can buy them online, but you cannot buy them on the airplane. You can’t even buy them online right now.”
Person in steerage: “Well I think it’s a little ridiculous.”
Crewmember: “But I don’t have 143 other masks to give everybody else on the airplane a mask. That’s not fair. Why can you get one but they can’t have one?”
Person in steerage: “You didn’t give me a mask, though. You did your job.”
Crewmember: “Yes but you got it from the customer sitting in Mint.”
Person in steerage: “You gave a customer sitting there a Mint product.”
Crewmember: “Yes, not for you, for him to use.”
Person in steerage: “It wasn’t a sir that gave it to me.”
Crewmember: “What’s to keep people from bringing all of their food and blankets back here to their friends? They can’t do that either.”

Here’s the video, as shared on TikTok. And here’s his full narration of the story.

@tylerweitzman

What??

♬ original sound – Tyler Weitzman

JetBlue Backs Up Eye Mask Karen

JetBlue’s position seems to be that amenity kits are like software licenses – the kit belongs to the passenger, but it comes with an adhesion contract that limits what the passenger can do with the contents.

According to the airline, the flight attendant was right although the attention they’re getting for it isn’t what they’re after. Business class passengers aren’t permitted to share “meals, alcohol, pillows, blankets, and other amenities” with passengers in the self-loading cargo cabin. However they are “revisiting” the wording of their policy for “clarity.”

The policy does not specifically mention eye masks that are provided as part of the amenity kit, and after reviewing the customer’s video and speaking to him directly, we understand the frustration he felt,” he said. “We are sorry we were not able to provide him with an eye mask as requested and that the thoughtful gesture from another customer caused him issues.

Why Wouldn’t An Airline Let Passengers Gift Their Amenity Kit To Someone In Coach?

Back in the mid-1990s when I was a United Premier member I used to go to extreme lengths to get upgraded. I’d fly Washington Dulles to San Francisco – but take a noon connecting flight through Denver on a Wednesday. There were fewer passengers to compete with and Boeing 777s had plenty of premium seats.

In those days United operated flights to LA and San Francisco with widebodies, a mix of Boeing 777s and 747s. So I’d fly to Phoenix via Los Angeles figuring I’d never clear an upgrade on a non-stop Boeing 757.

One day at check-in a gate agent (this was before online check-in!) took pity on me and moved me from widebody business class through LA to the non-stop in first. It was my first time in ‘first class’ on a meal flight, and I was excited. Sure I wouldn’t get cradle-style business class seats, but I’d get… an ice cream sundae.

It turns out I was now on a flight with a colleague from work. They trudged to the back of coach, and I felt guilty. So I brought my ice cream sundae back to coach. That got looks from other passengers.

You can imagine that an airline wouldn’t want (1) passengers who didn’t pay for a service taking advantage of the amenities, that’s revenue leakage (since passengers might not buy up) in addition to driving costs, and (2) passengers to ostentatiously benefit from something that surrounding passengers couldn’t have, a recipe for class warfare within coach and inflight altercations.

But gifting an item from an amenity kit, that a passenger could just as easily have brought on themselves? There’s no additional cost to JetBlue here and it’s not likely to set off a riot in the coach cabin either.

And I’m not sure how they’d treat a passenger who took pajamas off of one of their new London flights and used them on a future trip in coach? I use airline pajamas all the time when flying business class on carriers that do not offer them.

(HT: One Mile at a Time)

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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Comments

  1. “Give little people a little power, and it goes straight to their ugly, little heads.”–Ray Palla

  2. I assume the flight attendant would do the same thing if she saw someone in the back wearing a Jet Blue eye mask they had obtained on a previous flight. Sorry, ma’am, you can only use those masks when flying in the front. We can’t have passengers reusing amenity kits.

  3. I would have let them throw me off the flight. This idiot flight attendant needs to be fired.

  4. I’m surprised you didn’t go more into the expense portion here for the airline. The alcohol has a direct cost if it is being consumed by someone and food that I grab to give to someone in the back may cause that choice to run out, causing an unhappy customer up front. Also, giving a dish or 2 from my meal may cause me to grab a snack later, running up costs again to provide a first class service to someone in coach. Once an amenity kit is opened, the airline has zero opportunity to reuse it and there is no money going out the door.

    I like JetBlue. They went above and beyond for me the other day. But this is borderline pathetic that they would defend someone giving away something they have.

  5. One time I was returning to the US on Singapore airlines in coach and I was wearing the pajamas I had gotten on my business class flight to Singapore. The flight attendant came over and told me that Singapore Air branded pajamas are only permitted in business or first class, so she would have to take them off me. And then I woke up.

  6. Power tripping FA. From where I live, Jetblue doesn’t make sense. Now more reason to avoid them.

  7. Someone needs to gather 143 Jet Blue eye masks and hand them out to every passenger before they board.

  8. If you fly Business? Why do you care about Economy Class pax. The whole idea of Business Class is to separate yourself from the crowds, enjoy more room and more attentive service. I feel very sorry for American Citizens working as Flight Attendants in the USA. Your Country is a mess. Self entitled people are everywhere.

  9. The most ironic part of the story is that the economy passenger did nothing wrong; the business passenger is the one that broke the “rule”. The FA should have yelled at her.

  10. Considering B6′ on-time is at the bottom of the industry post-pandemic, you would think they would have bigger fish to fry.

  11. Now that jetBlue has joined the AA alliance/partnership (or whatever you call it) – they’ll go straight to the bottom (service-wise) (like AA has) as outlined in this story. Good lord – what’s next?!?! Stay tuned right here.

    p.s.: hope Alaska doesn’t stoop to these new low’s as the latest partner with AA. Time will only tell.

  12. Great. Now we are having battles where we make people take other kinds of masks off.

    The fact is, once something has been given to someone, it is theirs to keep. Like the poster above said, it’s not like there’s any additional cost to the airline as there is with food and alcohol. If somebody gives me a sleep mask or a pair of pajamas, I can do whatever the heck I want with them. It’s mine and I paid for it. I think I would probably fight that one on principle of ownership. Possession and all that.

    Of all the petty, midget minded things that an airline could be upset about or make rules about…

  13. JetBlue’s official policy makes half a lick of sense. Better than total nonsense. The FA enforced it, which if you’re a corporate overlord, you should be happy about. Other than, as @Pierre mentions, the conversation should have been with the Mint passenger, not the economy passenger.

    What JetBlue ought to do here is empower their frontline staff to let the small stuff like this slide. Oh, and the economy passenger should be overnighted a pack of 100 masks, with a personal note from a JetBlue exec apologizing for the bad inflight experience, plus a $1k voucher for future JetBlue flights.

  14. A bunch of people in the comments are thinking about “cost to the airline” – folks that is completely irrelevant here. There are costs that are not immediately measured. The sanctity of the premium cabin being one of those costs, presumably motivates the policy not to share amenities with other cabins.

  15. My daughter, the ungrateful wrench, once snagged the last FC seat on flight we were taking together and left her poor mother stuck in Premium Economy.

    As penance, she brought me her hot cookie during the flight.

    Thank heavens she wasn’t chastised, both of us thrown off the flight and added to the federal no fly list by some officious FA on a hall monitor power trip.

  16. Absolutely appalling behavior and attitude. It costs nothing to JetBlue to let the guy keep it. If the airline was going to reuse it I can understand, but not if they are just going to throw it away.
    I fly in Asia all the time and this would never happen on an Asian airline. In the US, making customers feel good is not a goal to strive for – and when a customer does get it, they got lucky. It is just phony PR garbage. Making customers feel like they are just packages that need to be delivered is the true objective for anyone traveling economy class.
    I understand that unfortunately some passengers are scum, but there is no reason to treat everyone as if they all might be scum.

  17. Mental note don’t ever fly JetBlue. Don’t need a flight attendant on a power trip

  18. the flight attendant should be disciplined for poor customer service. While there is a general prohibition against sharing first class amenities with economy passengers, that mostly applies to food, extra blankets and pillows and stuff like that. Stuff in the amenity kit is yours to do with as you please, the moment you receive it.
    What isn’t clear from the article is if this was an extra additional mask the Mint passenger requested, or the one from her amenity kit. In the latter case I understand the argument of the flight attendant more.
    Either way, the flight attendant showed that she doesn’t understand customer service. Losing a customer is way more expensive than an eyemask.

  19. We often return home with our unopened amenity kits because we travel with our own. We put the new kits in our guest room for visitors. Once they accumulate and we have too many, we drop them off at the local homeless shelter, which is very happy to receive them. So, based on Jet Blue’s policy, am I now under a moral obligation to report the Jet Blue kits to the airline so that that Jet Blue can try to retrieve them and return them to first/business class where they belong? And please don’t tell Emirates that we also brought home unopened pajamas for the guest room!

  20. Hey Jet Blue, please answer these three questions:

    Question 1: You fly Jet Blue Mint class on one segment and receive a complimentary eye mask. If your next flight is on Jet Blue IN COACH, does Jet Blue prohibit you from flying in coach class wearing the Mint class eye mask received on your previous Jet Blue flight?

    Question 2: You fly Jet Blue Mint class on one segment and receive a complimentary eye mask. If your next flight is on a DIFFERENT AIRLINE IN COACH, will Jet Blue start legal action against you when you wear a Mint class eye mask while sitting in coach on a different airline?

    Question 3: Where in the “JetBlue Airways Contract of Carriage” specify that wearing a Jet Blue eye mask is prohibited in coach class?

  21. Can we just call flight attendants “flight police” so buttiegieg and his dem politicians in congress can get a movement going to defund them?

  22. I am thankful he was only caught using the eye mask and not the toothbrush and toothpaste from the kit. That would have been a great video.

  23. “And I’m not sure how they’d treat a passenger who took pajamas off of one of their new London flights and used them on a future trip in coach?” Not the same thing at all.

  24. JetBlue should be happy this guy wasn’t black otherwise the wild be all kinds of hell to pay from the grievance industry.

  25. To clear the air Jet Blue should amend its contract of carriage to include language that reads, “Amenity kits are the property of Jet Blue. Passengers must return them prior to leaving the aircraft.”

    Steal the toothbrush and you end up on Jet Blue’s no fly list.

  26. JetBlue has quickly adopted the “Spirit Airlines” playbook. “Survive” the flight and come back for more abuse. JetBlue will now be on my list of airlines of last resort. You might say this is an figurative “eye for an eye” moment.

  27. There is a cost to JetBlue now
    The bad pub
    That flight attendant needs some CRT training
    Customer Retention Training

  28. Flight attendants need to lean their place. YOU ARE SERVANTS. Talking back to paying customers should be a firing offense. I’ll give someone traveling in coach whatever the hell I please, as it i mine and I have paid for it.

  29. The policy isn’t enforceable since passengers are entitled to only one kit. The airline would have a basis for refusing to allow a passenger to share, say cookies, since they would be entitled to ask for more to replace the one they gave away and in theory could repeat this for every passenger. It’s reasonable to think of this as a service provided by the airline, the right to cookies, like the right to eat all you want at a buffet restaurant. But that’s not the case for the mask.

    Once the airline gives the passenger the kit ownership passes and the kit becomes the passenger’s property and its their’s to do with as they please. There is no basis in the law for them to retain residual rights nor given the lack of intellectual property such as with a DVD, CD etc.

    Contracts have three elements, offer, acceptance and compensation. The airline offered the passenger a kit as part of the purchase of the airline ticket, the passenger accepted when the bought the ticket and consummated the part of the contract that called for delivery of the kit when they accepted it. Compensation was made when the passenger paid for the ticket.

    When the passenger choose to give the kit away, and the airline attempted (successfully) to stop the transaction that was arguably an act of tortious interference against the owner of the kit. Since the first class passenger had completed the transfer of the property before the airline made their assertion, the coach passenger had already become the owner of the property and would have a separate claim for the airline having seized what was rightfully theirs.

    I wish the airline good luck with their assertion that kits are a service that they can regulate and not property.

    It’s also just plain dumb.

  30. Flight attendants have a very challenging job. Especially nowadays. Why in the world would they even mess with something this small and inconsequential? Especially after they found out that the mask was “gifted” to them by the rightful owner. At that point it is really none of their business. But, who knows, maybe they will get a “Golden Award” or something from Jet Blue. Silly and stupid on the FA’s part. As they say, “bigger fish to fry”.

  31. @Jeff K – depending on your perspective the entire job of a flight attendant is inconsequential. Think back to your last 100 flights. From a safety perspective only, how many of those flights would have went just fine without any FAs on board? All 100/100, right?

  32. @Lucy

    “Please don’t bring race or politics to this conversation. Ty.”

    Then the title of the article shouldn’t have used the slur “Karen”. I happen to know a person named Karen, she is the widow of my Best Man and a very nice person. I cringe for her every time I see the cool new putdown. Makes me want to slap the person using it. But we’re allowed to smear middle-class white women. If you want to use an appropriate term, use a name of a truly undeserving privledged person – like Gwyneth or Angelina.

  33. @C_M: “Karen” is not a slur on middle-class white women. It is a term used to describe obnoxious, ignorant, entitled behavior.

    Don’t like it? Too bad. Don’t own it.

    Back to the subject at hand so I don’t have to dwell on Karens, I fly SQ in F and will often have associates in business or coach. I’ll send them back a glass of Dom or Krug and the stewardess [that’s what SQ calls them] gladly deliver it to them.

  34. @C_M. Good point. Can we substitute “Meghan” for Karen, or is that “Duchess” off limits?

  35. Jet Blue is an ass. What if the economy passenger had Covid or another communicable disease? That mask could have been dangerous. Jet Blue should be fined for health code violations.

  36. What the flight attendant did was completely unacceptable and outrageous: she was publicly berating a passenger who simply received a gift. But in reading this article as a consumer, the way Jet Blue corporate handled this was beyond outrageous. “…we are sorry that the thoughtful gesture from another customer caused him issues.” No, you high-school educated pinhead. Your flight attendant’s demanding that the economy class passenger give up a gift from another passenger—and making a scene in front of the captive audience—was absolutely abhorrent. It’s the JetBlue flight attendant that caused the issues. And then corporate’s insulting this economy class passenger even further tells me that either JetBlue has total amateurs working in their social media unit or this is really the airline’s policy and their executives condone the flight attendants actions.

    No matter, as someone who has spent the past two decades spending nearly $10,000 per year in air travel, I’ll steer clear of JetBlue. I thought their Mint flight attendants received intensive training in the art of customer service? The airline should at least put people on their social media team with education and training on how to promote the brand—not drive consumers away. Nice job JetBlue! Keep this story trending!

  37. @John Q Public:

    “ No, you high-school educated pinhead.”.

    Nailed the perfect description. I love the comment.

  38. @Ray and John Q:

    I never knew Jet Blue required a minimum of “high school education” to work as a flight attendant or customer service. It is good to know that Jet Blue’s high education standards for employees result in the consistent outcome of stellar customer service (by their standards) with a bizarre in-flight experience.

  39. @Ken A:

    Here are the requirements:

    “How to Become a Flight Attendant with JetBlue

    In order to become a flight attendant with JetBlue Airways, you’ll first have to meet the basic requirements of a flight attendant. Some of the requirements are standard and are set by the FAA for all flight attendants regardless of airline, but there some are specific to JetBlue.

    Here is a list of the requirements for JetBlue Airways according to their website:

    Must be 20 years of age (Some airlines require you be 21)
    Able to reach 6’3 without shoes
    Fit through over wing door
    Must be fluent in English
    High school diploma or GED
    The ability to legally work in the United States
    Flexible schedule (flights are 24/7/365)
    Ability to pass a background check and drug test
    Vision correctable to 20/20

    Although these are the requirements to be considered, JetBlue gives additional considerations to applicants who have the following qualifications:

    A bachelors level college degree
    2 or more years of experience working in customer service or guest care
    Fluent in Spanish

    If you meet these requirements, and would like to see a list of current opportunities and possibly apply, visit their career site here.”

  40. @Ray:

    Thank you for posting the minimum standards for employment at Jet Blue.

    As Jet Blue gives additional considerations to applicants with a bachelor’s level college degree, this flight attendant may be a “college-educated pinhead.”

  41. On one Singapore Airlines flight, the crew actually gave me a business class eye mask when I asked for a mask even though I was in coach and they had economy class eye masks. She smiled and whispered “it’s better quality”.

  42. Many years ago (about 1982) , we were flying first class on a 747 from Hawaii to SFO with our 2 girls (ages 4 and 6) . When the meal announcement was made ,coach passengers were offered spaghetti while first class was stuck with steak .Of course ,the kids wanted the spaghetti – a very nice FA said that could be arranged. She was sure someone in coach would gladly swap their spaghetti for steak . I wonder what the obnoxious power hunger FAs would do today ( not that there is steak available anymore)

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