American Airlines Under Fire for Lack of Mask Enforcement on Flights After Letting John Kerry Violate Policy Without Consequence

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry poses for a photograph after a meeting in Brussels, on March 9, 2021. (Photo by Olivier HOSLET / POOL / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER HOSLET/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
OLIVIER HOSLET/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

American Airlines is under fire for letting President Joe Biden’s Climate Envoy John Kerry violate its mask mandate without consequence.

Kerry — who was pictured on an American Airlines flight from Boston to Washington, DC, on Wednesday morning letting his mask hang off his ear while he was not eating or drinking — was in clear violation of the federal mandate requiring airline passengers wear a mask at all times when not eating or drinking. The federal mandate, implemented by Biden, is in addition to the policy from the airline itself requiring passengers wear masks to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Kerry is a former secretary of state. He previously was the Democrat presidential nominee in 2004 and served for decades in the U.S. Senate representing Massachusetts.

The story first broke Monday afternoon in the Tennessee Star and has since made the rounds across the media, including in Breitbart News.

The White House declined to comment on the matter, instead referring Breitbart News to the State Department — where Kerry works as the special climate envoy — which has not yet commented on the matter. Kerry himself dismissed the violation of the federal order in a tweet as just a “momentary” lapse in his mask-wearing, and American Airlines announced as the news spread about the incident that it is conducting an investigation.

The official American Airlines Twitter account has repeatedly said Wednesday evening the airline is “looking into” the matter but has offered no clear resolution of the violation on Kerry’s part.

Kerry, who was sitting in first class on the flight, was in clear violation of the order:

An American Airlines spokeswoman, Stacy Day, told Breitbart News on Wednesday the company intends to communicate to Kerry that he needs to wear his mask for the duration of a trip and that this so-called “momentary” slip was unacceptable. Day said, too, flight attendants did not observe Kerry maskless on this flight, and other customers did not alert the staff to the violation before it broke in the media.

“Masks are required on board our aircraft,” Day said in an email:

Our team works diligently to make sure customers are wearing masks properly as they travel with us, and flight attendants pass through the cabin several times during flight to ensure compliance. The crew did not observe Secretary Kerry without a mask, and they were not alerted by other customers to a non-compliance issue. We continue to review the matter and we are reaching out to Secretary Kerry to underscore that all customers are expected to wear masks for the duration of their trip.

Despite Day’s comments on this, American Airlines has not answered a set of detailed questions this incident raises sent to them from Breitbart News. The company’s lack of clarity on its mask policy potentially presents a risk to the public health, and the unclear level of enforcement of it also creates broader confusion in the public. In particular, Day did not answer when asked in a follow-up if Kerry will be banned from future American Airlines flights for violating the order as the company said in an announcement in February that it would do for those who do not follow its mask mandate.

David Seymour, American’s chief operating officer, is quoted in a press release after Biden’s executive order federally requiring masks on U.S. flights as saying the airline will enforce the order.

“Our mask requirement has been and will continue to be a critical component of our comprehensive effort to protect the health and well-being of our customers and team members during the pandemic,” Seymour said. “This federal mandate will provide additional support to our crew members who are working diligently to enforce our policy and further reinforce the safety of air travel during COVID-19.”

That particular press release said people who refuse to wear a mask and do not comply with the order may be denied boarding, kicked off a boarded flight, or even barred from future American Airlines flights.

“Consistent with U.S. government directives, individuals who refuse to wear a mask may be denied boarding, removed from the aircraft or subject to penalties under federal law, in addition to being barred from future travel with American,” the American Airlines press release said.

But now that American Airlines refuses to say whether Kerry — for whose violation of the order photographic evidence exists — will be barred from future flights, the legitimacy and seriousness of the entire mandate is, at best, in question or perhaps, at worst, non-existent.

American Airlines refused to answer a series of questions from Breitbart News about Kerry’s mask order violation, and more broadly about the company’s enforcement of the policy.

The questions that Breitbart News sent to the American Airlines staff that they did not answer include:

1.) John Kerry said in a tweet about this photographic evidence about this clear violation of the federal order and American Airlines policy that it was “momentary.” He was not eating or drinking. He does not claim that he was. If that is okay for John Kerry to do, can anyone else have a “momentary” slip of their mask?

2.) What is an acceptable amount of time for someone to have their mask slip off their nose and mouth for a “momentary” period?

3.) Has John Kerry been disciplined in any way for his violation of this health order?

4.) Will American Airlines allow John Kerry to continue to fly, or ban him from future flights for this violation?

5.) Why has it taken so long for American Airlines to do something about this violation? When ordinary people violate the mask mandate, they get held accountable almost immediately. Do you have different standards for politically-connected Democrats than you do for ordinary Americans?

6.) What exactly are the standards of the American Airlines mask mandate policies? If someone violates it, what are the consequences? Are those consequences the same for every person and are these standards the same for every person? Is there an exemption to the policy that allows Democrat politicians to avoid enforcement?

7.) Are we to take the lack of enforcement–and the lack of urgency on the part of American Airlines–to mean that masks are not required on American Airlines flights anymore?

8.) Have you had any communication with the Department of Transportation about this? If so, please detail that communication.

9.) Have you had any communication with the White House about this? If so, please detail that communication.

10.) Have you had any communication with Kerry, his representatives, or anyone from the State Department about this? If so, please detail that communication.

11.) Does American Airlines think it is “malarkey” to call out government officials who violate the government’s and American Airlines’ mask mandate policies?

Several top conservative leaders, from former Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to Donald Trump Jr. and more, have called out American Airlines for the lack of clarity on this matter.

If American Airlines does indeed allow Kerry to continue flying on its airline after this evidence of his violating the mask mandate emerged, it will present an interesting dilemma for the company that has already banned several Americans from flying on its planes for similar violations. Brandon Straka, a conservative activist and leader of the Walk Away movement encouraging people to leave the Democrat Party, was banned last summer for not wearing a mask.

“American Airlines has banned a man who was kicked off a plane for refusing to wear a face covering, among the first such incidents since airlines promised this week to step up enforcement of their mask rules,” the Associated Press reported in July 2020, for instance:

A spokesman for American said Thursday that the airline decided to ban the man after reviewing the incident, which occurred Wednesday at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

According to the airline, conservative activist Brandon Straka ignored requests by crew members to wear a mask while the plane with 122 passengers prepared to leave for Dallas-Fort Worth. He was ordered off the 172-seat plane and put on a later flight.

American said Straka will be banned until the airline drops its requirement that passengers and crew members wear face coverings to limit spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Other similar incidents have cropped up for the past year.

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