An African-American man was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight after he apparently lowered his face mask – bearing a pro-Trump sign – to eat a snack before takeoff. The argument was caught on film.
An altercation started on board the American Southwest Airlines jet as it was about to depart from an airport gate. Footage widely circulated online appears to show a flight attendant telling off a black passenger sitting next to the aisle.
It appears that the man was eating peanuts while his mask, apparently bearing the slogan ‘Black voices for Trump,’ was down, which some speculated was the reason for the flight attendant’s intervention. “What are you going to do?” he can heard asking in the video as the crew member points to the exit and asks him to leave the plane.
“Can you tell us the policy that prevents him from taking his mask off while he’s eating, please?” asked the female passenger who filmed the standoff. The steward doesn’t directly answer the question, and then tells the man: “The crew does not want to take you out.”
Moments later, the black Trump supporter says he will comply with the demand to leave the flight and starts packing up. He heads for the exit as the passenger recording the footage continues to bombard the flight attendant with questions about Southwest’s mask policy – but to no avail.
It was not immediately clear when and where the incident took place. Nevertheless, the footage triggered quite a stir on social media, with users accusing the budget airline of lacking common sense as well as being racist and biased against those supporting Trump.
As an A-List preferred customer, I will never fly @SouthwestAir ever again and switch to another airline immediately if they do not address the bias in this. I did the same thing earlier this week and nobody said anything because my mask was neutral. Flight attendants were cool.— Aggie Dad & Tiger Grad (@edwardsmark5) October 14, 2020
Others expressed massive customer dissatisfaction with the airline’s conduct. Donald Trump Jr, the US president’s eldest child, joined in the popular outrage, calling the story “disgusting.” Everyone lowers their masks to eat and drink, he noted, saying: “I did it on a Southwest flight earlier this week.”
The airline, which prides itself on using “a science-based approach” to ensure passenger safety, is yet to comment on the incident. This is not the first time it has removed a passenger for issues regarding face coverings.
In mid-August, Southwest Airlines gained nationwide media attention for blacklisting a Texas family and their three-year-old autistic boy who refused to wear a mask. At the time, the airline said it was making no exemptions from the mask-wearing rule, but confirmed that a full refund would be offered in such instances.