President of Flight Attendant Union Calls for Federal Mask Mandate on Planes


The president of a flight attendants’ union is calling for a federal law mandating face masks, after several reports of passengers being removed from planes for being disruptive and refusing to wear face masks.

Sara Nelson, president of the International Association of Flight Attendants, advocated for this mandate in a Sunday appearance on CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera.

Cabrera mentioned a recent Delta flight from Detroit to Atlanta that was forced to return to the gate so that two passengers who refused to wear masks could be removed from the plane, and two other passengers that were arrested on a KLM flight to Spain for being “unruly” and refusing to wear masks. Cabrera asked Nelson about how often this type of incident was occurring.

“Well, unfortunately, we’re seeing a rise of people who are refusing to wear the masks,” said Nelson, “and that has a lot to do with the leadership and the sort of narrative that is being put out from the leadership and our government that this is about a political decision rather than a public health decision.”

Nelson called the situation “unfortunate, because that puts us on the front lines having to deal with that,” and applauded Delta Airlines for “backing up the crew here and keeping passengers safe and making sure they’re enforcing the mask policy” — a policy put in place by the company, not any law.

“But really we should have a federal mandate for everyone to wear a mask,” Nelson added, “just like we have a federal mandate that you cannot smoke on a flight, because it threatens everyone else’s safety and health.”

Nelson also said that the airlines were doing what they could to put some teeth behind their enforcement of their mask policies: passengers who had been removed from the flights for not wearing masks had been banned from future Delta flights, and the airline has banned about 100 people so far for this reason. There have been discussions between the airlines of sharing their lists so that anyone who was banned for not wearing a masks on one airline would be banned on the others as well.

“But if we had a federal mandate, we would also have the backing of consequences, felonies, and fines that would come with this action,” Nelson said.

“This is what happens in aviation,” she continued, “We have to come to door of the airplane with the spirit that we’re all in this together for us to get safely from one place to another. And in this case, all have to wear a mask for all of us to be safe.”

Watch the video above, via CNN.

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