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More Flyers Refusing to Wear Face Coverings Cause Chaos on Aircraft

More Flyers Refusing to Wear Face Coverings Cause Chaos on Aircraft
Joe Cortez

Two flights over the past four days have been delayed because passengers refuse to wear face masks aboard the aircraft. Claiming protections through federal regulations, the government is now warning travelers that there are no blanket exemptions from face mask mandates by private corporations or public entities.

Flyers who claim to be asserting their personal rights by not wearing a face covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused flights to be delayed, or outright returned to the gate over the past four days. Two documented incidents show how airlines are responding when flyers won’t follow stated policy.

Delta Flight Returned to Gate Over Two Passengers Not Wearing Face Coverings

The first incident took place on Thursday, July 23, 2020, aboard a Delta Air Lines flight from Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL). ABC affiliate WXYZ reported Delta Air Lines Flight 1227 was returned to the gate after two passengers refused to comply with the airline’s face covering policy.

In statements to multiple media outlets, a Delta spokesperson confirmed the flight was delayed due to flyers being “non-compliant with crew instructions.” Its unclear if the flyers were allowed to continue to Atlanta, or if they were left behind.

Earlier in July, Delta announced their “Clearance-To-Fly” policy for those claiming to have a condition which prevented them from wearing a face covering during their flight. To qualify for the exemption, flyers must arrive at the airport at least one hour before their departure time and go through a tele-health screening facilitated by the airline.

American Flight Delayed Over Flyer’s Refusal to Wear a Mask

On Saturday, July 25, 2020, a second flight was delayed because a flyer refused to wear a face covering – and it was documented on Instagram. As reported by Mediaite, American passenger David J. Harris, Jr. posted a three-minute video showing the flight’s response to his refusal to wear a face covering.


After the video shows the captain offering re-booking on the next flight and discussing the situation with some passengers, Harris says he was allowed to stay on the flight without a face mask. He ends his video discussing personal rights, claiming the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and other federal regulations allow flyers to not wear face masks without disclosing their reasons.

FlyerTalk reached out to American Airlines for comment, but the Fort Worth-based carrier only pointed back to their enhanced face mask policy, going into effect on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. It is unknown if the flyer was allowed to stay on the flight without a face covering, or if they were placed on American’s internal ban list.

Can You Really Board A Flight Without a Mask?

While some claim that an airline can’t force flyers to wear masks aboard aircraft, the letter of the law suggests differently. An investigation by USA Today reveals the two laws that are most often cited in the fight over face masks – HIPAA and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – don’t actually cover their purported civil rights. Private businesses can ask why a person is not wearing a face covering, and reserve the right to deny service if they are not wearing a face mask.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Justice is warning flyers about misinformation circulating on the internet. In particular, anything circulated with the agency’s seal may not be factual, and all official information will be provided on their website..

“Inaccurate flyers or other postings have been circulating on the web and via social media channels regarding the use of face masks and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” a DOJ warning reads. “Many of these notices included use of the Department of Justice seal and ADA phone number. As the Department has stated in a previous alert, the Department did not issue and does not endorse them in any way. The public should not rely on the information contained in these postings. The ADA does not provide a blanket exemption to people with disabilities from complying with legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operations.”

View Comments (10)


  1. caljn

    July 27, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    These unmasked utterly selfish “guardians of liberty” should be thrown off any and every flight.

  2. jjmoore

    July 28, 2020 at 10:51 am

    @caljin If you are so upset by this, you should just not travel, not go into public places, etc etc. Luckily in this country, we have (up until this point) been able to make decisions for ourselves regarding what keeps us safe and what doesn’t.

    Unfortunately right now, the government is making uninformed decisions to MANDATE that we wear masks in public places when:

    1) There is not a single research article in a reputed journal showing that asymptomatic transmission of Wuhan virus actually takes place (meaning we don’t need to wear a mask if we are not sick)
    2) There is not a single research article in a reputed journal showing that face coverings keep you safer or anyone else for that matter.
    3) Even an N95 mask with an average pore size of 0.3 micron will not stop the Wuhan virus, which has an average diameter of 0.1 micron or less. Even in liquid mist, the virus is more prone to stick to the surface of the mask, and pass through when the moisture dries.

    I refuse to wear a mask… for my own safety, and ultimately yours as well if I get sick from wearing a mask.

    Logic, and facts…. trump whatever emotions are driving you to this neanderthal post.

  3. ajf87

    July 28, 2020 at 2:55 pm


    You refuse to wear a mask because you’re a paranoid Trumpanzee and you’ve convinced yourself that selfishness is a virtue while ignoring the US’ disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. And for all of your bloviating about “reputed journals,” you ignore that no “reputed journals” refer to this virus as the “Wuhan virus.”

  4. jaimelobo

    July 28, 2020 at 8:44 pm

    @jjmoore, no maybe you shouldn’t fly, if you don’t want to follow current rules and safety protocol. Hey, my right to not wear a seat belt, my right to smoke on the plane, my right to drive any direction or as fast as I want, on any street, etc., etc. Try your “freedom” line with the Highway Patrol.

    1. You’re right, not a single one, there are dozens.
    2. See above.
    3. Not supposed to stop the virus, if you actually understood anything about respiratory transmission. Condom and airbags in cars aren’t 100% effective either, so I guess they are worthless as well.

    Well, keep refusing, you will have a very sheltered life and more and more places and businesses make it mandatory (oh and stop watch Fox News)

  5. Zeeb

    July 29, 2020 at 6:39 am

    Only 2 comments in and we’re seeing exactly why airlines are having to take such extreme steps like turning an airplane around because someone on the plan decides they are more important than everyone else. I support the airlines on this, as do the overwhelming majority of people. This article could just as easily say “99.99% of airline passengers wear masks as required by the airlines. The tiny percentage that refuse to cause delays”

  6. jrpallante

    July 29, 2020 at 7:22 am

    The stupidity and selfishness exhibited by some Americans is truly astounding. It sounds like the same troglodytes who don’t understand the benefits of vaccinations, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence. Nobody said that wearing a cloth mask will prevent YOU from getting sick. However, every time you cough, sneeze, or talk, you are emitting particulate matter into the air, which can make OTHER PEOPLE sick. If a cloth mask stops 50% of your emissions from entering my air space, then I am 50% better off. Since most of the anti-maskers seem to be mouth-breathers, they are spreading more than their share. It doesn’t take years of research or peer-reviewed papers to comprehend that every drop of spittle you keep to yourself makes everybody else better off.

  7. Bohemiana

    July 29, 2020 at 8:20 am

    @jjmore…Here is an article from The Lancet that summarizes thousands of research studies of similar viruses and reduces the results down to the “best” 172 studies. You can read the conclusions although it’s a rather lengthy text.

    As others have said, a cloth mast does not guarantee anything. Social distancing does not guarantee anything. You can do anything you want in life, you don’t have to wear a seat belt, you can punch someone in the face, you can urinate in public, etc. and there are legal and social consequences. But you did get me wondering, what is the big deal about not urinating in public or in your seat on a plane for a direct comparison? Is wearing clothes during the summer a big conspiracy by clothing manufacturers (who are mainly Chinese) to extort money? Is it worth living in a society if we have to follow rules and norms, or is it better to live free under our own beliefs in the woods? All things to consider but in the meantime, if you are flying on a plane that you don’t personally own, you have to wear a damn mask.

  8. Historyappraiser

    July 29, 2020 at 9:46 am

    Hear, hear for airlines adhering to mandatory masks on all flights. Anyone traveling in Asia, understands that mask culture works for all virus transmission and keeps people well for many years. It is so arrogant for “non-maskers” to put others at risk on a plane or other congested area. These people obviously don’t need to fly if they can’t obey the rules.

  9. bloomz

    July 29, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    Typical Rumpanzee moron maskhole mouthbreathing dimwit who thinks he’s smart, just like the Velveeta Vulgarian

  10. CaptHolic

    August 3, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    If you can smell a fart through a mask, it ain’t stoppin no virus…

    Can’t remember the comedian that said that recently but it made me laugh

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