American Airlines Removes Passenger Wearing A Gas Mask From Flight

A male passenger aboard an American Airlines flight had to be removed on Thursday for refusing to take off a gas mask.

American Airlines Boeing 737-800 N940NN
The flight to Houston was delayed one hour because of the passenger wearing a gas mask. Photo: BriYYZ via Flickr

As American Airlines flight AA 2212 was boarding for the short flight from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston, a passenger on the flight was seen wearing a military-style gas mask.

Other passengers on the aircraft began to panic, not knowing if the man was wearing the mask because he was about to release something into the air or whether he was wearing it to protect himself from the coronavirus.

When the cabin crew instructed him to remove the mask because it was making other passengers nervous, he refused to comply with their instructions. In fact, he only decided to get off the aircraft after being told that airport security was on their way.

Inciting panic

When recalling the incident to Houston ABC television station KTRK a passenger on the flight, Joseph Say, said:

“I looked up and saw a guy coming onto the plane wearing a full gas mask, which was kind of odd. Immediately, people start talking in the back of the plane … You couldn’t see his face. You couldn’t identify any features on him. People were worried he had sneaked something on board and that he had the mask for his own safety.”


Major airlines, including American, are canceling flights to China. Photo: Fabrizio Gandolfo Wikimedia Commons

The first thing that came into Mr. Say’s mind was that the man was wearing the mask to protect himself from the coronavirus, which is making news headlines around the world. “But then I noticed it didn’t have the filter, so that didn’t really make sense,” he added. “What we heard from the lady sitting next to him was, he said he wanted to make a statement. I don’t know what the statement was.”

American Airlines Boeing 737 flight number AA 2212 was delayed in Dallas for an hour following the gas mask incident.

The gas mask was intended to gain attention

As it turns out the incident was nothing more than a bizarre attempt to get attention and heighten the public’s awareness of the coronavirus. As of today, the coronavirus is responsible for 304 deaths in China and one in the Philippines.

When contacted by Fox News about the gas mask incident, a spokesperson for American Airlines confirmed it had taken place and that the passenger in question had flown into Dallas from Los Angeles and was not wearing the gas mask. According to the spokesperson, the passenger was rebooked on a later flight to Houston that night and that he flew without wearing the mask, adding it was nothing more than a “PR stunt.”

Major airlines have stopped flying to China

This comes as major airlines around the world have either stopped or intend to stop flying to China due to health concerns. Several countries, like the United States, have warned their citizens not to travel to China due to the coronavirus outbreak. Besides the travel advice, the United States is not allowing foreign nationals to enter the country if they have been in China over the past two weeks.

As of now, the Chinese authorities are saying that there are more than 14,300 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and that the number is rising by the hour. Other sources are saying that the outbreak of the virus is far worse than they are letting on with medical professionals telling CNN that they are running out of medical supplies.

A Hi Fly Airbus A380 was used to evacuate Europeans from Wuhan. Photo: Ibex73 Wikipedia Commons

Some airlines like Emirates and Etihad are still flying to China despite the coronavirus. Do you think this is a good idea or not? Please let us know in the comments.