Video Of Drunk Europeans Fighting Over Inflight Mask Rules Shatters Everything I Thought About Covid-19

There’s so much about the novel coronavirus that doesn’t fit the usual narratives. For instance, countries didn’t all need strict lockdowns to limit bad outcomes. Here’s a sample of countries that locked down strictly, and those that didn’t – yet had largely similar death rates.

Via Phil Magness

In the U.S. most states saw declining rates of virus spread before going into lockdown as a matter of policy, because people limited their activities on their own. And most states were seeing increasing rates of infection before lockdown policies were lifted, as people began to go out more independent of policy. That can be seen state-by-state at

There’s a common refrain that the U.S. didn’t limit movement the way Europe did, and that’s why we’re seeing so much spread here and the virus is more under control there. Yet Google mobility data shows this isn’t the case. In fact activity in the U.S. was limited about as much as the average country in Europe.

Via Phil Magness

And what about crazy people marching for freedom from restrictions, even as coronavirus cases rise? That’s what we’re seeing in Germany now. That’s right, Germans are protesting against rules.

So it really shouldn’t come as any surprise to see drunk Europeans arrested for a fight that broke out after they refused to wear masks on a KLM flight to Ibiza, Spain. (HT: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)

Two men, who allegedly had been binging on vodka, refused to wear masks. They were reminded of the requirement by cabin crew. They also refused to be seated for landing. One reportedly hit a fellow passenger. Then passengers and flight attendants worked together to restrain one of the men.

KLM confirms that the drunk Brits were arrested when the plane arrived at its destination.

The point, I think, is that the narrative of those silly Americans doesn’t always hit the mark. Covidiots aren’t the exclusive realm of the United States. The outbreak in the U.S. is huge (though not worst in the world by confirmed cases or deaths, adjusted for population). But the U.S. is hardly alone when it comes to idiots – or dissent over the best policy response to the virus.

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. America doesn’t have a monopoly on idiocy, but it sure is the market leader.

    And, European countries’ reckoning with multiculturalism has converged on “it doesn’t work” (Angela Merkel). Meanwhile in the US, BLM….

  2. What I find frustrating at this time. I look at the protest in Berlin, this weekend who are tired of being cautious after Germany had success is discouraging. Not just because some of the groups are of questionable integrity but because until there is an easy cure or vaccine no matter how much you do, it never gets better. It is just frustrating and all though I won’t give up being cautious I can understand how some people want to. The giving up or nonbelievers has led the number of cases here in the U.S. with people who ignore the recommendations concerns me, it is the deaths that scare me. The numbers are real, certainly, there may be some deaths that happened for other reasons and they got marked as COVID just as some people may have died of treatable causes because of COVID. What the heck do we do, how can small businesses continue to survive. I firmly believe the current U.S. situation was made worse by lack of leadership, I have to laugh or maybe cry when the republicans/administration refer back to how Trump stopped travel from China earlier on. Clearly that was not the solution to the problem, good leadership, taking responsibility, bringing states together could have slowed this and saved thousands of lives. Now parents are asked to send children back to school who can bring it home to their grandparents and parents is of concern, I also get not sending them back to school is not easy, parents have to work. How long can this go on? As a small business owner I need my team to work and focus, how can they when they have to be teachers or manage these new responsibilities, I will not ask them to ignore their family responsibility for work. We will try to work together and try to still be in business after there is a vaccine, treatment. Sorry I got off the topic here, as I watched another video of people being frustrated and fighting over doing what needs to be done.

  3. @Leonard my good man, I am on your team. I’m not sure that there is anything we can do to eliminate the spread a covid, but there certainly are things we can do to reduce the spread. Wearing masks in the workplace, opening windows and doors. More outside dining and drinking – my daughter is in Denver where the weather can be perfect, yet many customers complain they don’t want to sit outside to eat or drink, they want to go inside. While it’s 75 degrees and breezy outside? Continue to allow employees to work at home, or do split shifts in the workplace. If people want to take off their masks to eat or drink, have them do so outside, sit on a bench or in their vehicle. Allow for shorter, more frequent breaks.

    There is a difference between being careless, cautious, and paranoid. Why can’t people agree on moderation?

  4. “But the U.S. is hardly alone when it comes to idiots – or dissent over the best policy response to the virus.” Not sure anyone claimed otherwise. However, the US sure is the leader when it comes to the sheer number of government officials who are covidiots and the US has consistently embarrassed itself with its lackadaisical approach. Seriously what is the federal strategy here? We still don’t have one. CDC is predicting 30k more deaths from covid in the next three weeks alone. The US is still very much the world leader in stupidity.

  5. Lets face facts. The people are going to Ibiza during a pandemic, so the plane is likely almost exclusively full of idiots.

  6. “The outbreak in the U.S. is huge (though not worst in the world by confirmed cases or deaths, adjusted for population).”

    The US has 5% of the world’s population, but the US has almost 25% of Covid-19 deaths. I don’t know where you are getting your numbers but they are clearly NOT accurate!

  7. Lockdowns were pitched to us as a way of reducing the first wave to manageable levels. Germany excelled at that particularly well. There are people, everywhere, who aren’t taking kindly to the goalpost being moved to “stay inside until there’s a vaccine – we’re not even halfway done yet”.

  8. I’m all for wearing masks, but brawling is probably the worst thing you can do with the guy if you’re concerned he could be contagious with COVID. The risks of him spreading the virus (if he’s contagious) to other passengers probably just went up exponentially.

  9. Reply to JohnB:
    Key phrases are “not worst” and “adjusted for population”.
    Google worldwide data on cases per million persons or death per million persons.
    US is very high on the list but not the worst.

  10. Love the post Gary.

    The biggest mistake we make in America is the assumption that we are exceptionally good or bad at everything and we put everything into extreme categories… either the best or the worst without any real perspective. Our only true monopoly seems to be ego, although we have some competition on that too!

    Off topic but on point; Is America the most racist? Maybe. But I’ve never seen bananas thrown at players in the US. Or the time in Korea when my brother was denied access to a taxi over and over due to being black, still the most overt display of racism I’ve seen. Or maybe the time while travelling the Aussie outback when some Bogan thought it would be a good idea to share the picture album of all the Aboriginals his family killed or displaced. All anecdotal but nevertheless true.

    And who would have guessed Sweden would lead the way on personal freedom? Or ignoring science depending on your viewpoint? 6 months ago would anyone even consider making either statement?

    The truth is far more nuanced. Of course, nuance is more or less the only thing you can’t find on the internet. My point? America has plenty of work to do. On the pandemic and society in general. But we are far from alone or unique in the world. So let’s stop pretending we are.

    110 countries & 46 states doesn’t make me an expert or even likely the most traveled person in this discussion. But it has taught me 3 things… People are universally smart, dumb, good, bad etc in equal proportions. America is not the center of the universe. And lastly, I’d chop off my pinkie finger tomorrow to have unrestricted travel again. Who needs a pinkie finger anyway?

  11. @Alex, the U.S. has by far the most cases per million of any large, developed country. Sure, a few countries are so small that a single-wave infection left them with a higher (for now) CPM count– but virtually no other country has seen sustained infection rates like the U.S. (the exceptions are some South American countries to which we might have hoped never to be compared).

    @Gary, unless I’m missing something your second graph… doesn’t seem to show what you say it shows? Almost every European country graphed shows substantially lower mobility rates (in many cases, VASTLY lower mobility rates) during March and April than does the U.S. If I’m reading this correctly, the only exceptions seem to be in Scandinavia (including Denmark, which is one of the current world leaders in testing/tracing, and Sweden, which isn’t exactly a success story re: COVID).

  12. Most Europeans don’t think the UK is part of Europe. And the UK clearly doesn’t think it is part of Europe. I always thought it was much closer to the US than Europe.

  13. Sorry, Gary, the “idiots” are the sheep who have bought this scam and continue to advance the fraud. It’s embarrassing walking around watching these face diapered zombies give in to every ridiculous rule and edict handed down from their “leaders”.

    “It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.” Voltaire

  14. It’s a bit more complex than just the numbers going down when a lockdown starts and going up a lockdown lifts. These processes are delayed due to the incubation of the virus, demographics and geography plays a role, events that happen (like protests, or large weddings or other gatherings) and the quality of health care in each place – and also how much people are willing to do voluntarily in order to limit the spread.

    But, what is undeniable is that this disease can be dangerous, and even for many who don’t die from it is a horrible ordeal to go through, occasionally with lasting damage to the cardiovascular system and lungs. And it is also proven by now that masks reduce the severity of infections, not only the likelihood of infection. So it’s not only about protecting yourself. It’s not even only about protecting others. It’s also for insuring that when the infection does spread (as it sometimes still will, despite masks) the cases will be milder.
    That’s because the viral load you first get when you get infected is connected to how sick you get. If you get a low viral load, it takes the virus longer to take over, and your immune system has more time to react before severe damage is done. If you start off with a hundred thousand viruses in your system, you might have a much harder time.
    This is why medical professionals, when they get sick, often have quite severe cases, even if they are young.
    As for @JamesN: wearing a facemask is commonplace in many Asian countries, and not a huge burden. Look at the bright side: when your troll-ness is partially obscured by a face-mask, you might even come across as a nice human being!

  15. @James N – a mask is a very low cost thing, it’s simply no big deal, and there appears to be some benefit based on data. What surprises me so much about so-called small government advocates blasting mask wearing is that it’s the conservative alternative to lock downs. It’s a small piece of personal responsibility that substitutes for the heavy hand of government. It’s a simple step that makes it possible for businesses to be open, and for customers to have confidence to do show up.

  16. @Rose – Your reply isn’t relevant to my reply that US doesn’t have the highest cases or mosts deaths adjusted for population. And in terms of deaths the following countries have higher deaths adjusted for population than the US – Belgium, UK, Spain, Sweden, and Italy. Note, I’m in no way saying that the US is doing a good job in containing the infection – clearly we are not.

  17. @Ben: UK and Ukraine are not part of the European union (well, the UK was until recently), but neither are Switzerland or Norway. All these countries are in any case part of Europe (the continent). As is part of Russia. Culturally, too, they are all considered European.

  18. @Gary…”a mask is a very low cost thing,” So is a red clown nose, but I imagine you wouldn’t take too kindly to be ordered to wear one of them.
    “…it’s simply no big deal…” If you look only at the mask, that’s quite possibly true, but it’s the force and coercion that is the larger problem.

    “…blasting mask wearing is that it’s the conservative alternative to lock downs.” Sorry, but this is a false dichotomy. Actually, there are obviously more than two choices.

    “…that substitutes for the heavy hand of government.” Seriously? It’s the product of the “heavy hand of government”.

    The last sentence is little more than a continuance of your previous dichotomy.

    Finally, I’m fascinated about the views you hold being so directly connected to the Mercatus Center. Considering the excellent resources you have at your disposal, your failure to recognize the economic damage and violation of rights associated with this government overreach, is rather disappointing.

  19. The real Covidiots are those that bought into this hysterical farce and believe the CDC “death counts” or anything that comes out of Fauci’s mouth for that matter.

  20. Wearing seat belts and being ordered to remain seated until the plane has stopped at the gate are limits on freedom and an individual rights. Like mask wearing, those regulations are designed to protect individual passengers and those around them. I don’t hear any whining about that?

  21. Let’s assume, for the purpose of argument, that the U.S. doesn’t have the world’s worst rate of infections and death. We should be the best not celebrating a performance that lands us in the 10th percentile.

  22. Sorry John, but you have to do better. Your argument, the use of seat belts, rests on using one violation of rights to support another violation of rights. Also, whether anyone is complaining about it doesn’t change the crux of the issue. A violation of rights is a violation of rights.

    Also, the “remain seated until the plane has stopped” is not a violation of rights. It’s a condition you must adhere to when you agreed to the contract with the chosen airline. Basically, you voluntarily gave up the “right to stand” under contract. Ironically, in this situation we exercised our freedom to choose.

    “We should be the best…” Why? Based on what criteria? That’s like me saying, “We should be the best at growing bananas”. I would most likely be expected to support that declaration.

  23. @James N – you can argue that shutdowns cause economic damage (though much of the economic slowdown comes from people limiting their own economic activity, as facts about the virus emerged), but I don’t see how you’re making the argument that *masks* cause economic damage?

  24. Good post. I can say that, because Gary left comments available. Good job, Gary!

    (Related: bad job, TPG.)

  25. Please stay home! I’ve just completed my 16th flight since March and it has been marvelous. No horrible, whining bloggers flying (except to Turkey), everyone is quiet and respectful. The lack of annoying tourists in NYC this past week was incredible. The city I grew up in.

    So, for the love of God, please keep your weeny ass at home.

  26. The pandemic-related conspiracy theories and other politicized approaches to the pandemic that circulate in the US have also been finding a growing home in Europe …. on a delayed basis. Even the QAnon clowns are finding uptake in Europe. And the U.K. is no exception.

    The European version of the Alt-Right loved Trump. And they loved even Trump’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. At least they did love Trump until: 1) Trump started to be such a blatantly embarrassing character for them; and 2) the Trump pandemic numbers became so horrendous that the European Alt-Right began to distance from Trump. Why did they distance from Trump? Because remaining pro-Trump would discredit even them, as Trump’s clownish ways and the obvious US failings with regard to this pandemic in the US were discrediting them and their positions by way of association with Trump. Noteworthy: they were pro-taking Trump-pushed anti-malarial medicine, opposed to lockdowns and hostile to masks in public — even going so far as to claim that this public mask thing was an Islamic conspiracy to increase the acceptance of face-covering veils in public.

  27. @Willy – Totally agree. Flights we’ve been on have been similar. Clean airports, clean planes, none of the usual queuing at the gate, everyone was indeed quiet, respectful and appreciative. We’ve visited sane states and cities, enjoyed great meals and empty hotels. Indeed, please stay home.

  28. “you can argue that shutdowns cause economic damage.” Are you kidding me? Who in their right mind would argue otherwise?

    “…but I don’t see how you’re making the argument that *masks* cause economic damage?”
    Well, obviously, I’m not making that argument. It’s merely a symptom of the larger problem of government overreach in regard to this scam-demic. You’ll note that my reference to the economic damage was in the paragraph relating to your tenure at the Mercatus Center. Over the past 4-5 months you’ve been a hardcore supporter of almost everything trotted out by our “leaders” at all levels of government.

    It’s obvious to anyone actually paying attention that the decisions made from day one have been wrong-headed, economically destructive and have violated individual rights at levels not seen in this country since its inception. And unfortunately, the response from the bulk of the citizenry has been pathetic.

  29. It’s usually Mad Libs with these incidents reported in Boarding Area and it doesn’t seem to have changed during Covid: Drunk ____ (nationality) flying on _______ (airline, usually an ULCC or holiday charter) from ______ (airport, usually in the UK) to ____________ (holiday destination in Spain), were arrested for causing a disturbance _______ (prior to takeoff, in-flight). _____ (number) of pax and crew were involved in ______ (form of restraint, verb) the alleged _______ (nationality) passengers.

    But why/how were the alleged drunks permitted to board in the first place?

  30. @Gary you watch too much propaganda. Google tracks LOCAL mobility.

    In winning places like Italy they confined EVERYONE within their province (smaller than a U.S. county for months). In losing places like the U.S., while people locally are suffering, you have million of daily Covidiots who are spreading the virus from losing areas who didn’t control it (e.g Texas) to those who did initially (e.g. California).

    And the graph shows that the median European country locked down to -80 vs. the US at -40. In exponential terms, that’s 4 times as effective in containing the virus.

    The U.S. is the pity of the world.

    Never thought that the choice of President would make such a difference — had the other candidate won in 2016, this whole mess would not have happened!

  31. “…had the other candidate won in 2016, this whole mess would not have happened!”

    But not for the reasons you think.

  32. Seems crazy… the people that are afraid of the cooties ought to just stay home and hide under their bed. Let everyone else do as they please. Freedom and liberty above all else…. otherwise go live in a Marxist country.

  33. James N- If you think that this is a farce I invite you to come to the hospital where my wife works and I think you will then stop listening to the idiotic conspiracy theorists that feed you this garbage. It makes no difference if the statistics per population etc. show that one country is better than other. The PROVEN facts are common sense. A mask is a barrier. A barrier stops particles from leaving and entering. Maybe to put in your lingo, imaging the wall that Trump wants to build. Why? Because it is a barrier to entry and exit. Same as a mask. You don’t need the CDC etc. This is a very contagious disease and lots of people have died. Again, my comments come directly from someone who works in a huge hospital and not from Rush Limabaugh, Trump and the other deniers.

  34. James N your trolling is now up to a 1.5/10 but still at heart the same tired nonsense.

    Think you should go audition for a starring role in Plandemic 2: Electric Bugaloo.

  35. @Fernsie… Oh, wow, the anecdotal, one of my favorites. “I know a guy”.
    Then he proceeds to offer the ad hominem and invokes one of the classics…THE CONSPIRACY THEORY! Whenever those who have bought into the current fear mongering want to demonize their opponent, they trot out the mindless conspiracy theory. It’s on the same level as crying “racism” or “misogynist”.

    Finally, those unable to have a measured debate always resort to politicizing everything. If you disagree with the accepted narrative of those on the left and the MSM, then you must be a Trump supporter. Is it honestly a requirement in their circles to be that simplistic?

  36. James N- Nice try. That guy I know is my wife. I know that “guy” very well and unlike you who has to rely on other “sources”, I see it it and live it everyday. And I can definitely get you into the hospital to see for yourself. Anecdotal? Really? So to people like you, hearing it straight from the horses mouth is anecdotal? I think you better read the dictionary for the definition of anecdotal.

  37. Anecdotal: You used a personal experience or an isolated example instead of a sound argument or compelling evidence.
    Nope, that doesn’t sound like you at all. How could I be so mistaken.

    Keep trying!

  38. James N- There is an old saying…you can take a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. I offered to take to you into the hospital to see for yourself. How less anecdotal can this offer be? If you can’t see that, this is a hopeless discussion. The end.

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