Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, told CNN on Sunday that Delta Airlines has banned at least 100 people for refusing to wear masks on their flights. Other airlines are now thinking of taking the names of those individuals and barring them from traveling on their airlines as well.
The news came after a Delta Airlines flight returned to the gate after passengers refused to put on their mask and had to be escorted off the plane. Two passengers were also arrested after they refused to wear masks on a KLM flight.
"Unfortunately, we're seeing a rise of people who are refusing to wear the mask and is that has a lot to do with the leadership and the sort of narrative that is being put out from the leadership and our government that this is about a political decision rather than a public health decision," said Nelson. "And that's unfortunate because that puts us on the front lines having to deal with that. I want to applaud Delta Airlines in backing up the crew and making sure they're enforcing the mask policy. But we should have a federal mandate for everyone to wear a mask, just like we have a mandate for not smoking on a flight."
She explained that on Delta flights, masks are required unless someone is eating or drinking. However, there are now instructions online showing people who don't want to wear masks how they can circumvent the rule.
"They're banned, and Delta has said that they banned approximate 100 people so far and there's talk of airlines coordinating on banning people who have been banned on other flights as well," said Nelson. "So we have to take this really seriously. But if we had a federal mandate, we would also have the backing of consequences, felonies and fines that would come with this action. And this is what happens in aviation. We have to come to the airplane with the spirit that we're all in this together for us to get safely from one place to another. We all have to wear a mask for all of us to be safe."
All passengers have a choice not to fly if they are unhappy about wearing a mask. Anti-mask conservatives maintain that it is their constitutional right to refuse to wear a mask and take their health in their own hands. Unfortunately, however, this virus is highly contagious so an individual's decisions impact the public. When that is the case, the law generally favors the public's health.
See her comments below: