A man wearing a “Trump 2020” face mask was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight on Tuesday after lowering it to eat a snack, footage posted online Tuesday appears to show.
The video: Philip Ndifon of Tampa, Florida, who is black and wore a “Black Voices for Trump” hat, is seen talking to a crew member while holding a bag of mixed nuts and wearing the mask under his chin.
KrisAnne Hall, a conservative lawyer and activist taking the video, accuses the airplane staff of targeting Ndifon for supporting Trump.
- “Tell us the policy that says he cannot eat with his mask off?” she says. “It’s the hat and the mask — it’s not the eating.”
A second video then shows Ndifon leaving flight, which was waiting to take off from Tampa International Airport.
The fallout: Hall later told Newsweek Ndifon was traveling in her party en route to Amarillo, Texas.
- “Philip was a complete gentleman and complied with all their requests and policies,” she said.
Pro-Trump Twitter commentators responded with outrage.
“WTF??? This is disgusting. I’ve been on a thousand flights in the last few months and everyone lowers their masks to eat and drink,” said Donald Trump Jr. “I did it on a southwest flight earlier this week.”
Southwest Airlines told the Washington Examiner in a statement that Ndifon was asked to exit the plane only after refusing multiple requests to don a mask.
- “Our reports indicate that a Customer traveling on Flight 2632, with scheduled service from Tampa to Dallas, was asked repeatedly by more than one Employee at different times to wear a face mask. The Customer did not comply with our Crew’s multiple verbal requests — including while boarding the flight before seated,” the airline said.
- “Therefore, the decision was made to return to the gate and re-accommodate him on a later flight to his final destination after receiving assurances he would comply with our face covering policy. We regret the inconvenience the situation created for all involved, but our Crew must uphold the well-being and comfort of all Passengers.”
A matter of principle: Southwest Airlines policy requires all passengers age 2 and older to wear face coverings on flights to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
- The guidelines do not address the confounding issue of masking while eating or drinking.