It’s No Longer Just Americans Who Rebel Against Mask Wearing On Planes

When I said that mask protests were happening on planes in Europe, commenters pushed back sure but it’s not Europeans doing the protesting on those flights, it’s just the Brits!

We’ve seen Germans protesting against rules for the first time I can remember, but you won’t see Germans failing to follow Covid rules on aircraft. Once again, it’s Brits making the news, albeit flying out of Germany.

British anti-lockdown protestors were flying BA from Berlin to London Heathrow and “celebrated their ‘victory’ over airport staff” by sharing photos on social media where they’re flying without masks. They all claimed ‘medical exemptions’ to mask wearing – something that U.S. airlines American, United, and Southwest do not allow at all, and that Delta requires a medical consultation at the airport before permitting. Meanwhile, other passengers on their flight reported that they were “fake coughing.”

The protestors were part of a group calling the Covid-19 pandemic a lie.

The anti-vaccine activist, who describes herself as a ‘rebel not a slave’ said: ‘We had been through a stressful time at the airport. One friend had trouble with her booking, then we were stopped by police and asked why we weren’t wearing masks in the terminal. ‘They did not accept our medical exemptions so I walked away. My friend was then singled out and searched because she wasn’t wearing a mask.

In the departure lounge gate we saw some other Brits without masks and we sat with them. A chap did all the talking and he was very brave. He stood his ground and inspired us all to be brave as then we had lots of police and officials all stood over us intimidating us. ‘Calls were made and a lovely chap from our airline came out and checked our exemptions and said it was all fine….She claimed masks on flights were ‘not about contagion but control’ and said this is proved by everyone being able to take them off when eating or drinking.

For the readers who say ‘masks don’t protect you’, I’d point out:

  1. Even if there’s a chance that’s true, it’s pretty easy to wear them and there’s a good chance they will protect you. It’s worth wearing them even without a guarantee they work.

  2. You’ve forgotten the original reason for wearing them wasn’t to protect you, it was to protect other people from you in case you were asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic and spreading the virus.

  3. Quality of masks matter. Cloth masks provide some limited protection. Get a better mask. It’s possible to buy N95 masks now, but it’ll run you about $4.50 per mask.

The good news is “we’re in the 7th inning” of the life disruption we’ve experienced over the past 8 months. Better therapeutics (and perhaps lower viral load) are improving patient outcomes, and improvements are likely to continue as biomedical advances continue. We should have at least moderately effective vaccines begin to be available by early in the year, and widely available in the first half of the coming year. And while some people will continue to wear masks – I might in certain indoor settings during fly season – the requirement should be brought to an end as the acute phase of dealing with Covid-19 sunsets.

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. There needs to be a federal law requiring masks while flying. Simply allowing the airlines to handle the issue is not enough.
    We fly with our KN95 the entire flight. The idea that 100 people can remove their masks at the same time to eat or drink is laughable. Mask on for the entire flight. Don’t like it. Drive.

  2. @Chad – Amen. Also: the woman should not have ever been allowed into Germany. She is a walking biohazard.

  3. I don’t think I need to wear a mask cause I’m immune. Just had the ‘Rona a few weeks ago, but I’ll still wear a mask cause it’s not that difficult. It’s great that these people are so publicly proud and anti-vaxxers too. Really need to isolate those people.

  4. They just don’t care if anyone else gets sick or dies from it.
    Maybe they will figure it out when they get the bill for all society’s cost for ICU care.

    We need to find a virus that attacks the stupid and young or at the least sterilizes them so it’s the last generation of morons.

  5. @Tracy S – that conclusion is simply false. There are a handful of reinfections. Out of perhaps a billion people that have gotten the virus. It’s usually involved either someone who had the original D strain getting the now dominent G strain, or someone who is immunocompromised.

  6. Gary, you are way over optimistic, on a vaccine. Not one is approved yet. Probably won’t be, until at least March. At the very earliest. Then, there is scale up. There will not a widely available vaccine until fall of next year. Then there is convincing people to get the vaccine. Wearing masks could go on for another 2 years. Let’s face it. If we cannot convince people about masks, how will get people to get a vaccine?

  7. Meanwhile one of my coworkers developed a severe eye inflammation that required multiple visits to an ophthalmologist. The doctor was saying that such inflammations are rather common nowadays because you exhale directly into your eyes when wearing a mask. You can cite all the recent studies about masks you want but it is naive to assume that 10 mask less Brits on the plane are causing the second wave in Europe. Masks or no masks but pandemic is still burning.

  8. Similar to vaccine and new drug trails, one has to compare a population receiving a treatment (in this case, common masks) with a control group (masks with such a low density that liquid droplets are easily moving through). While this is very difficult to do, you can always look at Sweden where no masks are mandated. Just google
    “”Sweden spared surge of virus cases but many questions remain”

    As a disclosure, when in public places, airports, and on planes I do always wear a mask to obey the rules. But I do not care if you do otherwise.

  9. @justtraveler. Couldn’t agree with you more. My doc told me the mask was causing my gingivitis and dwarfism. Masks should be banned

  10. “There are a handful of reinfections. Out of perhaps a billion people that have gotten the virus.”

    Well there you have it. Science-ing the way scientists do.

  11. Gary: ” We should have at least moderately effective vaccines begin to be available by early in the year”

    If you’re basing that “moderately” assessment upon the mere 50% efficacy requirement in being able to get a vaccine approved, keep in mind that that number is merely a benchmark figure intended to power the trials, and is not indicative of the actual expectations. The efficacy across vaccine candidates currently in Stage III is likely to be much higher; 75-90% seems a probable range for most of them, based on most professional assessments I’ve seen across public sources.

  12. Applaud them for taking a stand. There is no evidence that masks help materially, and while I don’t personally consider it a huge imposition as a practical matter, it is a prominent marker of obeisance to authoritarianism that has been taken to its logical end-point with many places still (or returned) to endless lockdowns with people imprisoned in their homes and their employment and businesses made illegal.

    Masks initially seemed to me a silly hill to die on, but history has proven me wrong and maybe it’s the place to start clawing back our rights.

  13. We’d all best get used to wearing masks while traveling indefinitely. Even without Covid 19, there are good reasons to wear them to stop the spread of cold and flu viruses. And if anyone out there believes it’s “one and done” with Covid 19 even when a vaccine and better therapeutics arrive, Covid 20 and 21 et al are just waiting in line on the runway to take off. Not a pleasant thought, but a realistic and practical one.

  14. @justtraveler — That story is a month old. Looking at the statistics since then, Sweden is having a very big spike in cases.

  15. @Gary–“We should have at least moderately effective vaccines begin to be available by early in the year, and widely available in the first half of the coming year.”

    I sincerely hope you are correct… Lately many of us working in the medical trenches are beginning to question the long-term effectiveness of vaccination (or “herd immunity” for that matter).

    In this second COVID wave we are seeing patients with documented COVID pneumonia recovery early in the year, getting reinfected and requiring hospitalization for repeat COVID pneumonia and respiratory failure. Also several of these reinfected patients are getting more complications from the infection despite somewhat better treatment options.

    Experiencing better outcomes in severely ill patients with convalescent plasma, I am far more hopeful that treatments with monoclonal antibody infusions (i.e., Regeneron and others) may be a “game changing” therapy, at least in the short-term . If proven safe and effective, it could be possible for a COVID patient to receive an infusion in the ER, then go back home to recover.

    Only time (and more data) will tell.

    C. Arthur, MD, FCCM

  16. Everyone takes their masks off to eat on a flight – so this is not about contagion it is about control
    They want you to believe we are walking biohazards when it is simply not the case.
    They want to condition you into taking a vaccine to fly etc
    I did not fake cough whatsoever but it adds to the drama of the story
    This so called virus is all about control and if you cannot see the agenda behind this then you need to asap

  17. @Chariss – “this is not about contagion it is about control”

    whom do you think wants to control you?

    and why do you think masks are the kind of control they’re after?

    Who benefits from this? Whose plot is it?

    кто кого?

  18. @Charisse–In the words of Charlie Brown, “Good grief!”

    I was born and raised on Franco’s Spain, I know what fascism is, I experienced it first hand. This is NOT fascism at all; is a recommendation to wear a mask in public places, avoid gathering and keep distance from one another based on best known public health data at the moment. Is it the perfect solution, unlikely. Could recommendations change as more data becomes available, that’s how science works (or is supposed to work on a non-hyperpolitical atmosphere). But for now is the best we have based on known facts about this disease’s mode of transmission.

    These measures are in place to help decrease the rate of contagion from COVID, not to exercise some form of political/social control. If you don’t want to wear a mask on a commercial flight, that’s OK… mask mandates (policies) on commercial flights are company rules, not government mandates. You are free to choose any other mode of transportation that aligns better with your personal choices. No one is going to put you in prison if you choose to drive rather than wear a face mask on a commercial flight.

    The day when people are arrested never to be heard off again for not wearing a mask, keeping social distancing or voicing a political opinion in this country, THEN you can talk about this becoming a fascist regime. Thanks to your constitutional right to habeas corpus, this is unlikely to happen in this country (look it up, Article one, section 9 of the US Constitution)

    Until then, this is just ignorant, false and useless rhetoric.

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