Picture: Anna Shvets/Pexels.
Picture: Anna Shvets/Pexels.

The problem with people who don’t wear masks on planes

By Clinton Moodley Time of article published Aug 4, 2020

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When I was flying amid the coronavirus pandemic in March on a South African airline, I found that many people did not take the use of wearing masks seriously. I felt traumatised when a passenger removed his or her mask, or when they coughed.

Being close to someone made me anxious.

While this was a few days before President Cyril Ramaphosa enforced a nationwide lockdown, I sat at the edge of my seat, waiting for the plane to land at my home destination. I never travelled on a plane since.

Over recent months, many passengers globally have defied the mask-wearing regulations set by airports and airlines around the world. Some have challenged the cabin crew, and their antics went viral.

Like the man travelling on a Spirit Airlines flight from New York to Fort Lauderdale in June who was asked to leave the flight after he removed his mask. A video shared on Twitter shows a law enforcement officer questioning the man for not wearing his mask, but the man was defiant that he did not do anything wrong.

The officer alleged that the man was in “passengers’ faces”, of which he denied.

“I did not get into nobody’s faces,” he said, before directing the questions to the passengers.

“Did I get into anybody’s face? Did I get in anybody’s face? All of these people on a plane. I did not get into anybody’s face. I have been sitting here waiting for you to come,” he said. (sic).

The man was removed from the flight and allegedly arrested.

American Airlines removed influencer Brandon Straka from his flight to Dallas in June after he refused to wear a mask on the plane. Straka called the experience “insane”.

A recent incident saw Delta Air Lines remove two passengers who refused to wear a mask. The Delta flight from Detroit to Atlanta returned to the gate where the non-mask wearing passengers disembarked.

As the world struggles to get back on its feet due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is not fair for travellers to undergo undue stress when their fellow passengers decide to take off their mask during their flight.

If travellers cannot wear their masks due to health reasons, the airline should designate seats for them to ease other passenger's anxiety.

Everyone else onboard has no excuse not to wear a mask. It is selfish if you choose to not wear a mask. While the government, the airports and airlines have done their best to ensure that Covid-19 regulations measure global health and safety standards, it is up to a passenger to ensure that the rules are followed.

Wearing a mask may not be comfortable, but you need to wear it to protect yourself and others. Flying during the pandemic is hard by itself.

Do not add to someone's stress by choosing to not wear your mask. If you have the privilege to fly, then you should wear your mask.

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