As the culture war over masks continues on both sides of the Atlantic, an entire flight was held up because a pro-Trump activist wouldn’t wear one.
David J Harris Jr was aboard the American Airlines flight and objected to putting a mask on. He posted a video of himself on Instagram defending his personal right to not wear one on board due to medical grounds.
In the clip, which was posted to his Instagram, he says:
So because I declared that I have a medical reason to not wear a mask, people on the plane are tripping out and may not want to fly on this plane.
There are a couple [fellow passengers] that are definitely having an issue, me not wearing a mask.
The flight captain can then be heard over the intercom, suggesting that passengers who don’t feel safe can re-book their travel due to Harris not wearing a mask.
Then Harris says:
They cannot violate your HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) rights at American [Airlines] and ask you anything about your medical issue, so for all the people on the plane who might want to get off, cause they might not feel say, then get the heck off!
I’m staying right here.
Harris claims to have a medical reason which prevented him from wearing a mask, in which case he'd be within airline policy not to wear one. And he encouraged his followers not to lie about medical conditions to avoid wearing one. He has been seen wearing a mask in other videos from his Instagram.
American Airlines says on their website that “a face-covering is required while flying on American, except for very young children or anyone with a condition that prevents them from wearing one”. So it seems Harris might have a point.
indy100 contacted American Airlines to see if they had any additional comment to add on the story, such as why the flight was held up because someone had a medical exemption.
They responded by saying they have a new policy, which will start this week. It states:
"Only customers under the age of two will be exempt from the new face covering policy. No other exemptions will be granted, even for those with verifiable medical conditions, due to the safety risk of asymptomatic COVID-19 transmission by customers without face coverings. If a customer cannot wear a face covering, they will not be able to travel on American Airlines."
Trump, who Harris supports (he was wearing a “Keep America Great” hat in the video), has done a U-turn on wearing masks. After months of avoiding wearing a mask in public, Trump now says they’re “patriotic” and posted a photo of himself wearing one.
Despite Trump seemingly changing his mind over masks it looks like the culture war isn't dying down any time soon.