Woman Kicked Off American Airlines Flight For The Mask She Was Wearing And I’m So Confused

American Airlines has a passenger dress code, “Dress appropriately; bare feet or offensive clothing aren’t allowed.”

Employees are supposed to interpret this, and no one knows what it means.

So what’s an employee supposed to do when they see F-Fentanyl on a mask? Is that like cancer, or Black Lives Matter, or is that not ok because it’s a mask rather than a hoodie? Apparently… not ok, but it’s only not ok on some flights and fine on others.

I don’t envy American. They want a policy so they can enforce it in egregious cases, but that risks backlash when it’s enforced in ways that offends groups, too. So employees are left with discretion to enforce rules based on… their best guess about whether the twitter mobs will approve?

Should this mask be allowed? Should an employee, following the airline’s dress rules know one way or the other?

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. It’s probably time for everyone to grow up and stop wearing the F word on clothes. Otherwise you’re just asking for this kind of thing to happen. Are there any adults left in the world?

  2. No it shouldn’t have been allowed. If it had said “F Fentanyl” that’s one thing and American should let that through. But putting out the entire F word is going too far and should be a cause for concern. The same thing goes for the spelling out the F word in that F Cancer hoodie.

    The problem here is American’s inconsistent application of the policy. The original error was apologizing for complaining about the hoodie. What American should have said is that spelling out profanity is prohibited on the airline…period…regardless of circumstance. That ends any confusion about the policy right there.

    Yes, there will be an argument about “personal freedoms”, which is beside the point in any scenario where you use a private sector service and have the choice to either use the service, and follow whatever rules said service lays down, or choose not to use the service.

    Yes, there will be arguments regarding the circumstances and nature of the statement. But the counterargument to that is you can make the statement without needlessly exposing everyone to profanity and, as already noted, this is a private sector business and if you use it, you have to abide by the rules or bad things happen.

    The problem is too many people these days think that the rules can be arbitrarily ignored and rudeness is perfectly acceptable if the instigator feels justified. Which is why we’ve seen such a spike in in-flight incidents the last year or so.

  3. The lady is basically: This is America and I can do or say anything I want. No one can tell me what to do! No one can tell me not to wear a curse mask or get the shot. I will not comply, this is MY country, my airline, my rules. I’m in charge here.

  4. I don’t use vulgar language, then again I know how express myself in a dignified manner in any situation. AA could/should update their passenger dress code to state, “…clothing and/or items in view of the crew or staff (airline, airport, or otherwise) with vulgar speech in any form will be considered inappropriate and thereby grounds to cancel or remove you from onward travel with AA or any subsidiary, partner, etc…”
    I get it, people today cannot speak without using vulgar disgusting language because they’re lazy. Even some of the language that precedes the vulgar words sound stupid and fail to make the individual look or sound smart.
    We must learn to express ourselves in a better manner.

  5. Ideally all clothing should be allowed, as long as they comply with the law at the relevant locations. Being offended by ideas we don’t like is part of life, and I don’t need or want American to protect me from it. I sure find a lot of permissible messages a lot more offensive than the word “Fuck”, and I still manage to fly.

    If they do want to have puritan rules about propriety, they at the very least need to make them a lot more specific and transparent, and enforce them consistently.

  6. WHo are these idiots among us? I mean have your point of view, but expressing it so publicly just doesn’t fly….You want to get from Point A to Point B without delay…so take the damn mask off and stash it until you arrive. And really are these episodes still news worthy? IF I were a FA I’d have them off the plane for simply demonstrating a lack of consideration and mostly common sense because they’d lack that in an emergency as well, and prove a risk to the rest of the passengers.

  7. She started off with the “thought this was a free country”. Then transitioned to “clearly defined dress code”. She lost me at free country defense. She should have led with dress code clarity.

  8. Americans get so uptight with the word fuck or the C word. Seriously? It’s an acceptable word in other english speaking countries. At least this woman wore a face covering. Is the mask in bad taste-yes I would not have worn it. However, I think American went overboard here. At least she complied with the mask mandate. American Airlines=Walmart of the sky.

  9. Just like an employer wrongfully terminating an employee, the airline passenger who was wrongfully kicked off for wearing the mask can file a lwsuit for free speech violations. The woman did pay her money for her flight-airline tickets, so she has a right to fly and get her money’s worth.

    Who agrees ?

  10. American Airlines should park their planes behind Air France planes and block them. After all, all Air France planes have the F- word on them. Look at their registration. It’s like F-CYSM or F-DELV

  11. Profanity on clothing isn’t something that people should expect to be able to get away with without being hassled. The public expects a certain level of decorum. Wearing an article of clothing that explicitly spells out a word that is considered vulgar is just looking for conflict. Stepping on board an aircraft which legally gives the flight crew superior authority isn’t the smartest thing to do.

    Her claim that a previous flight allowed her to wear it is similar to arguing with a police officer when being cited for expired tags or speeding that she didn’t get pulled over previously when another cop was nearby.

    It seems this woman, and so many others who demand their freedom of speech, neglect to realize that they are in public and vulgar or inflammatory language is good enough of a reason for a private company to require it to be addressed.

    She chose poorly as the word isn’t something a parent of a young child would want to have to explain, or an adult that doesn’t care for the word. Yet this woman’s mindset is that it’s not her problem, and others should yield or give way to her so she can express herself without consequence.

  12. What was wrong with the FA simply giving her another mask to wear. If she refused to wear a generic mask then she could be removed. In fact, it would be better for American to give ALL passengers the same generic mask to wear – and simply state that personal masks of any type with any messages, etc. are not allowed. Only the generic mask provided by AA. If people don’t like it, fly another airline!

  13. Since we all have to listen to dimwitted political blather from woke airline CEOs like Doug Parker, it’s only fair that we should be allowed to express our opinions while onboard American Airlines, like the outspoken woman above.

  14. Profanity is Profanity. There are many other words she could have used to state her same feeling like “Ban”, Stop”, “Stamp out”, etc. I certainly wouldn’t want my 10 year old sitting on a flight for 2 hours thinking that this was a permitted way to express yourself.. The way the F word is used these days it actaully means that she doesn’t care one way or the other about it which, since she las a child because of it, is not what she wants to convey

  15. DNN- go back and take 8th grade civics class again. The First Amendment does not apply to private businesses, only to government regulating speech. AA -and any business- can deny service to a customer based on what they consider to be offensive speech or clothing.

  16. @jon thanks.

    I agree with other posters, profanity is still profanity and AA shouldn’t allow it, even if it’s addressing cancer. I hate cancer, my mother had stage 4 colon cancer and now I screen more often. I hate cancer, but I don’t need to be profane or vulgar about it.

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