A passenger who was removed from American Airlines flight for not wearing a facemask has been temporarily banned by the airline.
Before being kicked off a flight, Straka argued that there is no law requiring passengers to wear a mask.
Wearing face coverings on planes is not mandated by law, but airlines have instituted their own mask requirements for crew and passengers to curtail the spread of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
Last week, several major US carriers, including American Airlines, pledged that they will take a harder line on enforcing their policies.
On Wednesday, Brandon Straka, a passenger aboard Flight 1263 from New York’s LaGuardia to Dallas/Fort Worth, became the first victim to be kicked off a flight due to refusal to wear a mask.
Straka had ignored requests to wear a mask while the plane with 122 passengers prepared to leave for Dallas-Fort Worth.
Before being ordered off the 172-seat plane, Straka argued with the crew members that there is no law requiring passengers to wear a mask.
The passenger has now become the first to be temporarily banned by an airline since the resumption of flight operations in US.
The airline said in a statement that Straka will be allowed to fly with American Airlines “once face coverings are no longer required for customers,”
American Airlines confirmed the incident in a statement, saying that Straka declined to wear a face covering.
“After he refused to comply with the instructions provided by the flight crew, our team members asked him to deplane. He deplaned and the flight departed the gate four minutes late at 12:34 p.m. ET,”
Straka was rebooked on a later flight after he agreed to comply with company policies.
Commenting on the incident, Straka said he wore a mask the airline provided but took it off once he was on board the plane.
“This is insane. Absolutely insane,”
“We don’t even have a choice anymore.”
Straka told local News in a phone interview that the flight was close to departing when “one of the flight attendants came to me pretty aggressively and said :
“Sir, you need to be wearing your mask.’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t have one.'”