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Should Anti-Maskers Face Automatic Lifetime Ban Across Multiple Airlines?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Airlines are getting stricter about enforcing mask rules.

American, Delta, and United said offenders risk bans from their respective airlines.

Delta flight 1227 from Detroit to Atlanta departed late this past Thursday after the airline kicked off two passengers who refused to wear masks during the trip. Delta also reportedly banned 120 passengers (maybe it’s 122 after last week’s incident) who violated the airline’s mask rules.

Something I’ve seen on social media and heard from others is a sentiment saying basically, If one airline bans you for not wearing a mask, the others should, too.

Most of the Tweets in question deal with people in the political sphere and/or included some NSFW language. Both of these generally trigger some readers, and the Comments section becomes a virtual political rally and/or a forum of hurt feelings.

But some of the “publishable” portions of Tweets include:

“He should be banned from ALL flights on ALL airlines. Anyone who cannot obey the mask policy needs to receive a LIFETIME ban. That will put a stop to his no-mask [redacted].”

“It should be a lifetime ban, and every airline should join in solidarity.”

Which leads me to wonder:

Should Airlines Create a “Black Book” of Anti-Maskers?

Many casinos have subscribed to the “Griffin Book,” also known colloquially as the “black book.” It’s a database of gambling cheats. And being listed in the book is apparently a lifetime affair. Casinos know to look out for these individuals and keep them off-property.

Should airlines do something similar and create a “black book” containing people who refuse to obey face-covering rules? Do people who flagrantly break airline mask rules once deserve to never fly again on other commercial carriers?

Quick Caveat: Why I Don’t Want to Wear a Mask

I don’t like wearing masks. I find it uncomfortable and have a “thing” about my face being covered.

But even though I don’t want to wear masks, I still do.

Why?

The current iteration of “Do they work or not?” says masks do help limit the spread of COVID-19. And mask-wearing is mandatory pretty much everywhere here in California. Plus, there are private businesses that simply won’t allow mask-less people. So I have to obey their rules, too.

But I get why people don’t want to wear masks. And there’s the “the government can’t tell me my rights” school of thought, which I recognize, as well.

Where Things Could Go Wrong

While I agree that rule-breakers — especially when it comes to public health — should be dealt with, a “black book” of anti-maskers might not be the best idea.

What if two people share the same name — but the person who obeys the rules is accidentally listed as the offending passenger? (I’ve traveled with a fairly prolific television producer who bears the same name as someone on the DHS’s no-fly list. That can be a pain in the neck, lemme tell ya.)

CNN pointed out that “Even in clear cases of mistaken identity or clerical blundering, a name can linger in the [no-fly] system for years.”

And as Blackjack Apprenticeship notes, “somewhere in the process, [Griffin] made a fatal error by not clearly distinguishing cheaters from advantaged players. Many players who were legitimately beating games, were labeled ‘cheaters,’ either intentionally or unintentionally. This led to many more serious oversights by the users of this information: the casinos.”

(Image ©iStock.com; Rene’s Points Composite)

To adapt that logic to this situation, different airlines have different policies. Southwest and American Airlines recently clamped down on a group previously allowed to go without masks: people with medical conditions. Delta still allows passengers with “unique mask requirements.” If Southwest were to drop the hammer on someone with a medical condition and stick them in the black book, that person might otherwise have been allowed to fly on Delta.

See what I mean?

If you think upgrade shenanigans are frustrating, just wait until rogue airline employees decide to stick you in the anti-masker black book for something that might not even be mask related. Or maybe he or she might make an honest clerical mistake.

Far-fetched? Possibly. But would it surprise you if it happened?

Attorney Doug Crawford — who represented someone named in the black book — told KNTV it can be nearly impossible to get off the list.

I appreciate the sentiment here — but don’t think it would work.

What Do You Think?

Should a single mask flouting passenger on one airline automatically be banned from all commercial air travel? Please share your comments below.

— Chris

Featured image: ©iStock.com/LightFieldStudios

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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31 Comments

  1. Easy handling: if there is a rule – respect it. Zero tolerance. Some people only learn the hard way.

  2. I’ve never met a person who actually *likes* wearing their mask, but as you point out, the latest research shows they are effective. Too much of the early advice was based on assumptions that were faulty like sufficient supplies of masks, so there has rightfully been a course correction.

    Personally, I’d be okay with airlines sharing a black book, for the duration of the pandemic ONLY (maybe until x number of vaccine doses have been shipped out the door or a similar metic; I’m not an epidemiologist, so they would surely be able to suggest a more useful threshold metric).

    That said, such a system absolutely SHOULD NOT use the government no fly list due to the byzantine processes around it, and that it will live beyond the pandemic. Such a system needs to be based on the common thread of repeated noncompliance with crew instructions.

  3. Jackson Henderson Reply

    Absolutely not. Air travel is government regulated. Travel can not be denied to a person for conduct that didn’t happen on a particular airline. Airlines are like utilities. If con Ed wants to ban you for life for non payment, that wouldn’t happen because it is a utility; but say it did, it would make zero sense for PG&E to ban a person. That is crossing the line.

    These mask rules are ridiculous given that it is very difficult for most people to wear a mask for 4 hours straight without respite. Some people have difficulty breathing through a mask. 98% of people who get coronavirus have mild symptoms. It’s unreasonable for airlines to be inflexible. If you are immunocompromised, stay at home. Let everyone else live their lives.

  4. YES. YES. YES…. This is a safety requirement, If someone refuses to cooperate they should be banned. PERIOD.

    • If you’re wearing a mask and can still get Covid then mask don’t work. Yes, yes and yes it’s that simple.

      • @DDiamond – You can still cut your leg off with a chainsaw without using protective clothing. I choose to we wise and reduce my risk when I run a chainsaw!

  5. Barry Graham Reply

    I’m like you. I wear masks because it’s the law and because there’s a chance they may help even though “the science” (may that term disappear quickly) suggests that they can’t help much because of the relative size of the virus compared with the pores.

    I was in a store this morning and the combination of my mask and the dividers made it almost impossible to be understood. I had to ask one question 5 times and even then I’m not sure they heard me properly. I really can’t wait until there’s a cure or vaccine and sincerely hope that once this happens and they are freely available, that the mask requirement will go away immediately.

    As for a life ban, if people break rules that are intended for safety, they have to face the consequences. It’s kind of interesting that the FAA made it illegal to use Wi-Fi calling on planes, which has nothing to do with safety, yet refuses to take a stand on masks. I’m not saying they should take a stand on masks, just that they should be consistent.

  6. Delta is also confiscating their SkyMiles as part of the “CoC”,
    It’s a good way to reduce their liability too.

  7. Patience Gone Reply

    1. Tired of people complaining about not being able to breathe: Surgeons performing 4+ hour surgeries would be dropping like flies. Or would you rather they not wear masks while operating on you because they’d be so much more comfortable? I suggest your brain damage happened long before COVID and masks.
    2. Tired of people saying “most people are asymptomatic” so what’s the big deal? The deal is whether you are asymptomatic or not, you are still contagious. Whether someone else on the plane is immune-compromised is beside the point — anyone else you give it to has the potential to spread it to someone else outside the plane, like your grandparents. See comment above regarding brain damage.
    3. If someone is verbally threatening to harm other passengers do you think they’d be banned? You bet. If someone is threatening to harm other passengers because they are selfish and acting like children? Yes.

    • Barry Graham Reply

      Surgeons are paid handsomely to do this and have a choice whether or not to become surgeons.

      • Patience Gone Reply

        You miss the point. Surgeons have not suffered any negative health effects as a result of wearing masks for long periods of time. Just because they are at a higher pay grade does not give them super human powers.

        • You apparently have never heard of the physical fitness test part of the MCAT – pushups, situps, a mile run, a mile swim – all required to become a surgeon, lol.
          /s

        • Barry Graham Reply

          I thought we were talking about tolerance level not health.

  8. So being on an airplane is not being in a public place. The owner of the plane, the airline, has the right to seem what is appropriate to be worn on their plane. Just like SW used to not let people on if “inappropriately ” dressed.

    Masks protect other people from us if we are infected. I dont understand why people are so against being protected from those around them.

  9. I, personally, disagree with mask wear for the general population… the “science” is not at all conclusive to me… I would rather keep a general distance from others and allow my immune system do its job to protect me or allow me to get the virus and fight it off as it does any other virus I encounter.

    That said, I also firmly believe in a private business setting rules for behavior within their establishment. So I decide on a case-by-case basis if a situation is important enough to me to wear the required mask and will do the same should I elect to fly during this policy period. However, having multiple airlines combine to ban a patron because of behavior on one airline is a reach. It leads to very subjective behavior by the airline employees and as well as the appearance of colluding. Unnecessary and far too much of an overstep.

  10. MICHAEL MCLEAN Reply

    Do your homework, Karens. This “pandemic” was supposed to kill 2,200,000 Americans. Even with the admittedly inflated numbers, it has not claimed more than 5-6 % of that amount, and 90 % of those were before mandating masks became universal. Stop watching CNN and get some reality.

    • Patience Gone Reply

      Karens are people with a sense of entitlement. Those who are fighting mask regulations are the Karens. Public safety is for the public good, not an entitlement. Your argument could be applied to the rule of having food handlers wash their hands. They could say hey, only a tiny number of people die from botulism or e-coli every year so whatever. Sorry, but public safety mandates protect the general population from PREVENTABLE health risks. Masks are preventative measures, not inconveniences, Mr. Karen.

  11. My problem with this is that it is ultimately public health theater, like many things done with political undertones to “appease the masses” whipped into a frenzy by the media and politicians, and, ultimately, not very sound science.
    Airlines actually make up and change rules whimsically, yet seem to enforce these arbitrary rules with extreme rigidity.
    Come on, innumerable individuals do not wear their masks correctly any way. Are the airlines making sure the face covering is adequate, and worn correctly? No.
    Does it make any difference? No.
    We were all going to die because of AIDS, the Legionnaire’ Disease, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Mad Cow Disease, West Nile Virus, H1N1, Zika, Ebola… AIDS was going to kill us all unless we found a vaccine. No AIDS vaccine was ever developed. We have a Flu vaccine, yet CDC estimates that influenza was associated with more than 35.5 million illnesses, more than 16.5 million medical visits, 490,600 hospitalizations, and 34,200 deaths during the 2018–2019 influenza season.

    • Sorry docntx…since you mentioned AIDS (3x in your comments…hmmm?)…it does make a difference. And…as long as we’re on the subject…not sure if this got down to you…but you can’t catch AIDS by someone breathing or coughing near you. Not in a small room. Not on a plane. Not with green eggs and ham.

      Wear a mask.

  12. Michael R Karpiel Reply

    Carley

    My first thought was that a common blacklist of non-compliant travelers would be a good idea but reading your article I could see the pitfalls with this approach and how the Federal No Fly list is a nightmare.

    That being said each airline should create their own non-compliant flyer list to ban people that don’t abide by their mask rule.

    Lastly since I know this is a hot political issue which it should not be. I will only make one comment and that is that a Billion Asians have proven the effectiveness of wearing a mask.

    • Barry Graham Reply

      How has 1 billion Asians wearing masks helped? One could argue that considering this pandemic originated in a mask wearing country, that their wearing masks didn’t help at all.

      • Patience Gone Reply

        Do you think every Asian wore a mask everywhere every day? Do you think once the pandemic started everyone did? Yes. Follow the case graphs on the New York Times–in every country where masks are now mandatory and people are adhering to social distancing cases have fallen. The US and Brazil are the worst offenders and their increasing upsurge is testament to that.

          • Patience gone

            Do you remember what this thread is about? Its about people who refuse to wear masks despite mandates.

      • Michael R Karpiel Reply

        Barry

        Look at Hong Kong which is certainly much more densely populated than New York. Same goes for Tokyo or Seoul so those are the countries/cities that I’m thinking of. The spread of the infection there and deaths are quite low. Yes Wuhan has had a high infection rate and apparently many unreported deaths but even there the issue was brought under control.

  13. Barry Graham Reply

    Also what are you claiming that 1 billion mask wearers prevented before COVID-19? That was my main question that I forgot to ask.

  14. Yes, black list the people for life. It’s harsh but after a few examples, others will learn and abide by the rules. I think that there should be a lifetime no-fly membership as well for people trying to carry guns onto a plane illegally.

  15. Michael R Karpiel Reply

    Not really we have a patchwork and then we have idiots like the Governor of Georgia preventing localities from creating their own restrictions. Same thing happened in Texas but eventually Gov. Abbott reversed his position. In my State of Florida, Gov DeSantis is still insisting that we don’t need a mask order and with us being the current hotspot that everything is under control which it’s not.

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