NEW YORK • A conservative activist who is an ardent supporter of US President Donald Trump was barred by American Airlines on Thursday, one day after he was removed from a flight from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport after he refused to wear a mask.
The passenger, Mr Brandon Straka, recorded his exchange with an airline employee on Wednesday after boarding the plane and shared it with several media outlets.
In the video, the employee referred to an American Airlines policy that requires all passengers and crew members to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The policy, which went into effect on May 11, makes exemptions for children, passengers with disabilities and medical conditions, and for people eating or drinking.
It is similar to the policies of other major airlines.
The airline employee told Mr Straka that, if he did not comply, he would have to get off the flight, which carried 122 passengers.
Political journalist Astead Herndon from The New York Times was sitting in the next seat and also recorded the dispute.
Mr Straka, 43, a gay conservative who rose to prominence in 2018 when he announced that he was leaving the Democratic Party, and then founded the #WalkAway movement, responded that he did not like wearing a mask.
He was escorted off the plane and rebooked on another American Airlines flight to Charlotte, North Carolina, and then on to Seattle. But American Airlines said in a statement on Thursday that after reviewing the episode that Mr Straka would no longer be allowed on any of its flights for as long as the mask requirement is in place.
According to the airline, Mr Straka gave contradictory answers about having a medical condition. “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 crew member instructions,” the airline said.
Earlier this week, American Airlines announced that it was stepping up its enforcement of the mask rule as part of a broader effort by the trade group Airlines for America.
Mr Straka, in an interview on Thursday, disputed that he gave conflicting answers about having a medical condition.