(NEW YORK) — BY: MINA KAHI, LENA CAMILLETTI, and GIO BENITEZ
American Airlines is banning the passenger who was kicked off a flight after refusing to wear a face covering as airlines step up enforcement of mandatory mask requirements.
Conservative activist Brandon Straka is the first passenger reported to be banned by a major U.S. airline after they doubled down on their mask policies this week following complaints that they were not being enforced.
A spokesperson for the airline explained that Straka will be banned from flying American for as long as its mask requirements are in place.
“American Airlines thoroughly reviewed an incident on June 17 involving one of our customers, Brandon Straka,” the airline said in a statement. “As a result of this review, Mr. Straka will not be permitted to fly American, as he failed to comply with our stated policy and crewmember instructions.”
“We expect customers who choose to fly with us to comply with these policies, and if necessary, we will deny future travel for customers who refuse to do so,” the statement continued. “Restricting travel is a step we take very seriously, and it will only occur after a comprehensive review of the facts of an incident. Mr. Straka will be permitted to fly with us once face coverings are no longer required for customers.”
Straka “declined to wear a face covering” after boarding his flight from LaGuardia Airport in New York City to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Wednesday, the airline confirmed in a statement.
“After he refused to comply with the instructions provided by the flight crew, our team members asked him to deplane,” the statement continued.
Straka recorded parts of the incident on board the aircraft.
“You’re asking me to do something that’s not a law,” Straka tells the flight attendant, who responds that it is the “procedure American Airlines follows.”
There is no federal mandate requiring passengers to wear masks onboard a plane, but by May 11 all major U.S. airlines put new policies in place, stating that passengers and crew have to wear face coverings in order to fly.
Exceptions exist for kids, passengers eating and drinking and for those with certain medical conditions.
The last thing Straka says before the flight attendant asks him to step off the aircraft is that he doesn’t “like wearing masks,” according to the video he filmed.
Straka founded the #WalkAway Campaign, which encourages people to leave the “Democratic Party of today,” according to its site, which also sells face masks for $20.
“This is insane. Absolutely insane,” Straka said in a video he posted on Periscope. “We don’t even have a choice anymore.”
Straka told ABC News that after being kicked off the first flight he disclosed to the airline that he couldn’t wear a mask due to a medical condition.
The airline is not allowed to legally ask Straka to reveal his medical condition.
Straka said he was able to board a second flight to Seattle, connecting in Charlotte, without a mask.
ABC News’ Amanda Maile contributed to this report.
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