It Takes Multiple Violations Before American Airlines Bans Most Passengers Who Won’t Wear Masks

While American Airlines got press for banning a conservative activist who was videotaping himself refusing to wear a mask while enroute to the President’s rally recently, that incident was the clear exception while passengers continue to not wear masks on board flights every day.

Flight attendants at American Airlines are submitting “a couple dozen” reports per day on passengers refusing to wear masks, according to Senior Vice President of Flight Services Jill Surdek at a question and answer session with flight attendants this past week, a recording of which was reviewed by View From The Wing.

Corporate security reviews each report and it’s a “super easy decision” to ban the passenger after they’ve been reported “multiple times.”

Customers can register exemptions from mask wearing due to health conditions (which aren’t going to be questioned) prior to boarding. One problem flight attendants are facing is customers who change seats. When there are open seats on a flight, passengers want to achieve greater social distancing. So flight attendants don’t know who has an exemption and who doesn’t.

Surdek recommends that cabin crew use their ‘my flight’ app, approach the passenger not wearing a mask and ask “[Name of person assigned the seat]?” And they may say they’ve changed seats. They can ask where the person was originally seated, or ask them to put on their mask.

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. I don’t get how this can be so complex. No mask, no fly. Period. If that doesn’t work, arrange alternative transportation. Jesus Christ even the Philadelphia SEPTA can manage this.

  2. @Jason I think the big difference is that on the SEPTA you can get kicked off at the next stop. No can do at 30K feet, so if you wear a mask to get on and take it off, what are the FAs going to do?

  3. If the feds instituted a civil penalty and a requirement to use masks unless you have a documented medical exemption that may help. Also if they told the public that FAM like agents would be roaming the skys patrolling for mask usage that would help in the perception department even though it may not be likely that the FAM like agent was on your specific flight. Imagine if the gate agent made an announcement that federal mask agents may be on the flight and that noncompliance would result in a fine and possible diversion of the flight and being banned from the airline.

    Of course the Trump administration would not want to do this based on their belief in noncentralized practices, and the airlines may not like this either as it may reduce some of their paid passengers.

    There is further complication since people can take the mask off while eating or drinking. What if someone took 1 hour to drink a bottle of water and then started drinking a 2nd bottle for another hour.

  4. I haven’t had a problem except one time. I just tell them I have a disability and am not going to wear a mask. The one time in the last couple weeks that I had a problem, I contacted united corporate as soon as I landed about being bothered about the mask nonsense..m they profusely apologozed and gave me 50k points. I guess a bunch of ADA lawsuits will cost them a lot more! These other people that think that they need others to wear a mask are crazy… if theyre too scared of the cooties, then they should stay the hell home until they’re not afraid anymore.

  5. @ Lisa You are 100% correct! This is NONSENSE!
    Soooo many brainwashed, pissing-in-their-pants cowards out there. Why do they think we have an immune system??

    For MOST people:
    1) Get the virus
    2) Feel shitty for 1 – 1.5 weeks
    3) Get over it
    4) Don’t worry about it again

    Done and done

  6. It is because there are people like Lisa and Larry that the curve turned the wrong direction in the United States. Even if you people do not care who gets the disease because of your lack of concern, surely you would like to get back to going to games, concerts, festivals, shows; you’d like your kids to be able to go to school; you’d like to be able to see your aging parents or grandparents. Forget the stuff about how you are killing other people because you obviously don’t are. Just realize that everyone has a vastly reduced quality of life until this is over. I think you should be banned from flying for life. We need to stop pandering to the willfully ignorant and get serious.

  7. @Lisa and Larry,
    I’d really like to go to France. Until people like you keep your cooties in a mask most of the the world doesn’t want Americans to show up. So how about you admit that the rest of the world thinks differently than you and you agree to wear a mask until this is all resolved?

  8. “Customers can register exemptions from mask wearing due to health conditions (which aren’t going to be questioned) prior to boarding.” The type of person who doesn’t want to wear a mask on a plane is exactly the type of person who will lie about having a health condition and should be required to provide some sort of documentation in advance which doesn’t need to specify the underlying condition but should be verified as being from a legitimate source. Really if you get someone who flat out refuses to wear a mask on a plane and they don’t have a legitimate medical reason that person should be banned for the duration of the pandemic. None of this multiple warnings crap.

  9. @DaveS Exactly. The anti-maskers are killing the economy and creating the situation where we can’t even travel to many places internationally now. Its all about them and they don’t seem to give a crap about anyone else.

  10. Is there any actual evidence that masks make any difference? I haven’t seen it, and whatever evidence they might try to show you is probably fake anyway.

  11. @Mike, sure:

    British researchers recently found that everyone wearing 50% effective masks is enough to slow the spread of the virus (homemade masks are probably more than 50% effective). https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/pdf/10.1098/rspa.2020.0376

    A German study found masks reduce the growth rate of infections by 40%. https://www.iza.org/publications/dp/13319/face-masks-considerably-reduce-covid-19-cases-in-germany-a-synthetic-control-method-approach

    And use of quality masks by half the population does the same thing. Wearing masks also encourages social distancing based on a study out of Italy – seeing the masks reminds us to stay away. https://arxiv.org/pdf/2005.12446.pdf

    These are just a handful of many, many examples

  12. Actually, a science-bound non-American like me would fully support the freedom for American anti-masker and anti-vaxxer for two reasons:

    1. By the end of 2020, hopefully the US will be the FIRST nation to reach the herd immunity without vaccine so that it would be the safest place on earth from COVID. This is inline with ‘MURRICAAAH FIRST ads made by the orange guy.

    2. Currently, major biotech US companies are the most advanced at developing vaccines and treatments at billion doses. By the end of 2020, many Americans would not be needing vaccine anymore because they already have the antibody so that this huge amount of vaccines and drugs can be either donated or sold at cheaper price abroad.

    Thanks Uncle Sam!

  13. @Mike – just ignore the temporary occupant of the White House and his slavish assistant, and yes, you will understand masks are effective

    SMFH that wearing a mask has turned political. Only in ‘Murica.

  14. @Gary,

    “…And use of quality masks by half the population does the same thing. Wearing masks also encourages social distancing based on a study out of Italy – seeing the masks reminds us to stay away. https://arxiv.org/pdf/2005.12446.pdf…”

    Cool – I choose to be in the 1/2 not wearing a mask. Issue resolved.

  15. @Lisa Rasmussen
    Nice to know that you don’t care about anybody but yourself. Masks work and it is people like you who are causing this pandemic to widen in scope. Stop getting your science from Hannity and Limburger and join responsible citizens of this great country.

  16. All you folks are the same idiots that left your diapers on the floor ,walked to the restroom with bare feet. Clipped your nails on the tables, took your shoes off and put them on the bulkheads. Pissed on the floors… so. maybe you should let others do as they please.

  17. Boy hard to imagine such dumb aholes refusing to wear mask.. What snowflakes.. They however take off shoes at security and comply with all the security procedures including wearing seat belts on planes.. But they draw the line at wearing masks.. Which is undoubtedly the most important safety precaution… Are they so stupid?

  18. As a physician, I really can’t think of any justifiable health reason behind not wearing a mask. I’ve had patients with pneumonia in their one remaining lung maintain O2 saturation just fine while laying on their stomach for a procedure.

    I’ve watched people die from this in a room alone with their family unable to see them. I’ve seen young, healthy people be placed on ECMO (the step above intubation) and have major strokes because of this virus.

    Sure, most people won’t notice much, but your selfishness is gambling with people’s lives.

    Quit being a petulant little child and wear the damn mask.

  19. What if they’re wearing their mask, but also have their fake emotional support animal (which may or may not be wearing a mask).

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