Police Meet Flight After Passenger And Flight Attendant Can’t Agree On What A “Mask” Is

A passenger and flight attendant on Spirit Airlines got into an argument over whether the passenger’s mask constituted a ‘mask’. The flight attendant offered the passenger a ‘real mask’- instead of an American flag gaiter – which they refused to wear. Police were contacted to meet the plane.

The most 2020 thing ever is a debate over what the word ‘mask’ means on a commercial aircraft. The passenger says he’s wearing a mask, while the flight attendant digs in that “the cloth around his nose and mouth is not ‘legally’ a mask.

“Legal by who?” the man asks, flipping the camera around to show himself wearing a neck gaiter printed with an American flag.

“It is not legal according to the CDC,” the attendant says in a video posted to Twitter.

The passenger then asks the attendant to “show me those rules” to which the attendant replies that he is not required to.

“Well I don’t have to wear the mask that you gave me,” the passenger says, implying that the airline provided him with a face mask that met its standards. “I’m wearing the mask that I have.”

The man says he’s flown 20 times with what he considers a mask and this is the first time anyone has questioned it.

Whether or not the passenger’s mask was a ‘mask’ they’re winning this on the actual arguments being deployed. The crewmember is right under Spirit Airlines policy, but can’t actually explain why. Still the flight attendant is ultimately winning by turning the debate into a law enforcement problem.

According to Spirit Airlines,

Our flight attendants asked this Guest to double up his American flag gaiter as required by our policy, and in line with CDC guidelines for dual-layered face coverings that hug the chin closely. He would have been welcome to keep wearing it like that, but he refused to follow the rules.

…Our flight attendants asked the Guest in this video to double up his gaiter. When he refused, they offered him an alternative face covering, and he refused that option too.

Spirit Airlines does allow gaiters but requires that whatever is used to satisfy their mask requirement “fit snugly cover the nose and mouth and be secure under the chin and have at least two layers of fabric.”

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. If he is flying Spirit, I doubt he has flow 20 times this year and there are no Redneck conventions happening until late 2021, at best.

  2. Cut and dried, they gave him a compliant mask, he chose not to use it. Beefing with airline employees is something none of the other passengers want to endure, particularly once the door closes. He can make his ‘case’ to the cops, I’m sure they’ll be very receptive to some unruly a-hole who can’t comply with a simple public health measure.

  3. Shame on the self imposed Chief of Mask Police on Spirit. CDC only provides guidelines, not laws. But those little details don’t matter to the leftist activists. What is one more day of negative press at Spirit???

  4. Re: “some unruly a-hole who can’t comply with a simple public health measure”. Are you referring to this passenger or are you referring to our current POTUS? Voters should be every bit as “receptive” to our lying douchebag-in-chief as the cops should be to this passenger.

  5. @Deltahater CDC may “provide guidelines, not laws”, but the airlines have policies that must be adhered to by everyone. So shame on YOU for shaming someone for enforcing their company’s policies and doing their job. It’s everyone’s responsibility to follow CDC’s guidelines to once and for all get through this pandemic.

  6. By now everyone must surely know to check on safety requirements required by any jurisdiction or business – including an airline – they’re interacting with. Shame on people who by know know that they need to be civic minded and yet continue to battle with frontline employees. We all look forward to the day that mask wearing requirements may change but really, fighting with a company employee who is doing their best to keep people safe in a manner determined by her/his employer is just not right.

  7. @Bill – Actually, I am affluent and have likely flown over 20 times in the last 12 months. A few of those have been on Spirit and the experience was fine.

    Stop projecting.

    In this instance, it is unfortunate that the Spirit flight attendant misrepresented the CDC declaration and failed to inform the passenger that his facial covering did not comply with Spirit’s own rules regarding facial coverings. The passenger then could have chosen to comply with the request or fly with a different carrier.

  8. This just had to get political! As to the passenger…how selfish! He was unable to consider the wellbeing of how many other passengers?

  9. Let’s not talk about the masks for a moment. let’s talk about the contract that you signed with the airline that is printed on the back of your ticket saying that you will agree to any in all flight crew instructions. That’s it. They tell you to do it and you do it. If you want to fight about it or worry about the laws then you wait until you get on the ground and you contact the lawyer period that is your right. But don’t cause a disturbance in the air causing concern to all the other passengers.

  10. Boycott Spirit Airlines…. ridiculous that mask police did this. That mask and gloves the ahole has on won’t protect him from anything! If your afraid to fly then get another job….

  11. His gaiter fit snuggly, he was incompliance. The flight attendant at one point put his mask down from his nose which he shouldn’t have. He had no right calling the pice on this passenger. Boycott the mask police on Spirit Airlines….

  12. Airlines are private entities, they don’t have to let you fly on their airplanes. I was on a SWA flight a few weeks after 9-11 and some jack ass walked up to the galley by the cockpit and started beefing with the FA about…something. I was leaning forward in my seat, hand on the SB release. I looked over at the guy across the aisle and he was doing the exact same thing. Whoever that guy was, he was about 10 seconds from being swarmed. Thankfully he went back to his seat after getting another bag of peanuts, or whatever it was that was bothering him. If you act like a jerk over something as easy as donning the mask the airline requires, while riding in a narrow aluminum tube 7 miles up, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, don’t be surprised if you get your ass kicked by fellow passengers, or the cops are waiting for you upon arrival.

  13. @Bj You stil did not get it. Did you? Is NOT about protectimg yourself is about protecting others that your droplets wont fly around. On the othersode the flight attendant had similar pice of cloth like the passenger. For all mask.complainers
    : What about next time if you have a surgery the surgeon decline wear mask? How would ypu feel?

  14. Why are people so stupid? Just wear the mask they want you to wear. With all the problems we have this is this idiots cause.

  15. OK all you science and personal health experts . . . what is the criteria for the pandemic to end? How about the criteria for the pandemic to be downgraded to epidemic. I’m not asking about nations reporting Covid but at what level . . . zero? That’s not going to happen. My money is on November 04, 2020, or Hawaii, NY or CA going bankrupt, whichever occurs first.

  16. @Fonzi

    Isn’t that different though? When you’re having surgery performed, you’ve got bits of you exposed to the elements that aren’t normally exposed and don’t have the preliminary defenses that the normally exposed parts of you do. Also let’s be fair, doctors have to sterilize before they operate, whereas you aren’t necessarily required to do so when you get on a plane. Also the surgeon is getting paid to do a job, so it’s in his best interest that the person paying him makes it through the surgery healthy. There’s not much investment with the opposite example, in fact he paid for the flight. It’s like the doctor paying to operate if we try to parallel the two examples.

    Also from what I saw, I didn’t see a problem with his mask personally. I don’t think it was worth stirring up a ruckus though. I’d have probably just finished the flight and not given Spirit any more of my money, maybe found a lawyer if he thought he could win a suit or something after he landed. I’m not sure that flight attendant handled the situation very well either, but it’s hard for me to come up with a better way to do so. Not gonna lie though, I’m relatively suspicious about the FAs motivation too, but I have to temper those thoughts cause they aren’t facts. Lotta people like to label white men who have any red white and blue articles on them as rednecks and such. Saw a few on this thread. Pretty racist imo. But anywho, lotta people dislike it when you’re proud enough of the flag to wear it on your person. I’d ask people to check that reaction. We honestly don’t know anything about this dude aside from he got into it with an FA over mask policy and the cops were called. Let’s try not to make assumptions about him and go off just what we know. Attacking his character out the gate poisons any discussion.

  17. Flight attendant motivation ??? Are you out of your mind. My wife is one and she hates it, but that is the rule for her job, so she wears it to keep her job. BTW, she believes it really does help in minimizing the spread no matter how much she hates wearing it..

  18. And you’re calling me an idiot for not wanting to wear a mask. You sent me to Vietnam 51 years ago and i have a shit load if breathing problems, that are compounded by those freeking masks. I cant breath in a mask for 4 hours. Thats your fault. And you’re going to try to make me feel bad. Not going to happen. My breathing problems are your fault, so dont try to make me feel guilty. And I need to fly to see my Grand kids.

  19. [redacted] I hope they all go out of business and you all lose your jobs. You keep FORGETTING who pays your fucking salary.

  20. My expectation is that when I travel with an airline (or do anything, really) I must comply with the rules of the company providing the service. The rules simply are not optional.

    Regardless whether we individually feel masks are right or wrong really is not relevant – nor are the staff on the flight able to change the rules.

    In the same way that I also may feel that sitting during take off and landing is not necessary, it is just not my call. I dont have that option nor would it be correct/acceptable to debate it with the staff who is there to apply policy, nothing else.

    Fight your fight with people who can make the change – the company administration – not with a line employee.


  21. This is a straightforward rule of law/force of contract issue. An airliner is private commercial property. An airline ticket is a private contract. The rights, and duties, of the airline and the passenger are found within the four corners of the contract of carriage.

    When you navigate to Spirit’s website, there is a pop-up banner at the top of the landing page, with a link to Spirit’s COVID-19 requirements.

    If you click on the link in that banner, you are taken to another page, which gives very detailed information about Spirit’s mask requirement. It says:

    “All face coverings must fit snugly cover the nose and mouth and be secure under the chin and have at least two layers of fabric (e.g. disposable non-medical face mask, multi-layered cloth face covering).

    “The following items are not considered appropriate face coverings: open-chin triangle bandanas, face coverings containing valves or mesh material, and face shields. Face shields may be worn in addition to a face covering but are not approved as a face covering replacement.

    “Guests who choose not to comply with our face covering requirement will lose future flight privileges with Spirit.”

    This is not about anyone’s opinions, politics, emotions, or beliefs. The passenger entered into a lawful and binding private contract, under which he agreed to wear a 2-layer mask at all times (when not eating or drinking). The passenger intentionally refused to comply with the contract he willingly and voluntarily entered into.

    That being said, That being said, Gary is correct when he points out this is a contract violation issue, not a law enforcement issue. Spirit’s recourse in the situation should’ve been to suspend or terminate the passengers flying privileges on Spirit, not to call the police. The passenger violated the contract. But violating But violating a contract is not a crime. Private civil contracts are enforced by civil courts, not by police or criminal courts.

  22. So why did they let him board if his mask was non compliant? Better to have the issue at the gate then in the air.

  23. His Gator mask looked better than most of them …It covered his nose and fit around his neck!!! better than those keeping their noses uncovered

  24. The Who does not have a right to tell Americans what is a legal mask and what is not a legal mask they have no law making powers in our country. They only make recommendations. That’s all I can ever do it’s not about the mask it’s about compliance do what who says to do or else.

  25. You are all idiots!!!! I wear a fairer mask and my customers never complained about it in fact some of them wear the same thing and I am still healthy. Why not tell Major League Baseball that the neck gaiters are unsafe. But all of you listen to one university and think because they say in their theory that they think they are not safe. What is really their proof. You are all sheep keep your opinions to yourself let people live their lives , there are worst things going on

  26. I’m laughing so hard. 1 the passenger is wearing a mask, 2 the mask covers more then half the passengers face. 3 that really got me laughing so hard is that the airline crew was like what is under the mask…. hahahaha. Would of responded… I have a nose. A mouth.. some teeeth. Some nasal hairs. Maybe some pimples from constantly wearing a mask lol. Hahahaha.

  27. In this case Spirit is wrong. The mask covered nose and mouth and I don’t doubt he has flown numerous times with it. Seems more like an anti flag or anti American thing than a mask issue. FA was out of line.

  28. I went to the CDC website to find out the rules of wearing a face mask. The CDC does not recommend Gaitor masks, but at least this man was covered. I don’t care what you use, as long as you cover your nose and mouth. I am a strong Democrat and believe in the rules and guidelines of this pandemic. I thank the man for covering his nose and mouth while on the plane. It may not be the best but at least he is wearing something. Better to have the gaitor masks and nothing at all!

  29. Good for him. More people need to stand up for themselves or we will be stuck in this nonsense indefinitely. This is just another flight attendant on a power trip trying to control their pathetic little world and make themselves seem more important than they really are. Get me a Coke and sit back in your jumpseat asshole.

  30. Ive been on several flights too social distance is non existent on a fight mask should be worn but training as to how to handle a situation where someone does not want to or has no knowledge of the non compliance the way you approach a person can also determine an outcome

  31. Bottom line if the fat orange jerk was supporting NATIONWIDE mask wearing NONE of this kind of thing would continue.

  32. I was wondering how they would (spirit airlines) treat someone with a stoma who cannot wear a mask haven’t been able to find a cover for the hole in my throat except for the filter I haven’t breath Ed through my mouth or nose in 12 yrs

  33. This whole mask thing is pos!!!! If you want to be a sheep then wear the mask .but some of us don’t want to be sheep and herded buy the government thank you

  34. If he refused to wear a mask at all that would not be good in the confined spaces of the plane. This is really getting ridiculous and insane! Are the mask Nazis going to fit the masks to the heads of the passengers? Has the CDC done scientific studies to determine the amount of pressure that must be exerted by each mask on the face of each person? Must we measure the gap between mask and face?

    What about covering the other orifices of the human body where the virus can pass? Eyes, ears, vaginal, penile, anal openings, tears and cuts in the skin?

    Are the pilots wearing masks the whole time?

    We live in a free country. If you believe a mask will protect you from the virus then wear it.

  35. its ok when spirit goes under wont matter that guy will be without a job and your money will be going to another airline spirit stock garbage.

  36. You people are sheep. This is a flu, with a he’ll of a survival rate. If you look at 99 percent of all mask guidance and instructions, most even pit in print that it won’t stop anything. I spent over 20 years in the military and most of this shit is completely idiotic. But hey it’s an election year, gotta manufacture. B’s.

  37. I bet every one of these people calling out filthy names don’t know a single person who died from COVID. If you’re under 80, recovery is almost 100%. It looks like stupidity is way more catching. If Nancy Pelosi is 80 y/o and doesn’t wear a mask at the salon, she obviously knows something, so ANY mask this guy was wearing should have been fine.

  38. You do what the FA tells you to do. When you buy a ticket, you are agreeing to abide by the rules and regulations of that airline. They can make and enforce any rule they want, so just freakin listen and enjoy your freakin flight and dont give us any grief.

  39. I notice people comment on protecting others with the face masks, but then wear masks with exhaust vent ports. Those masks do NOTHING to protect others from the wearer. If you’re going to start policing masks, those should also be banned, per CDC recommendations.

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