Delta Bans Man Involved In Bin Laden Raid Over Mask Violation

Delta Air Lines has banned a passenger that was part of the mission that saw the killing of Osama bin Laden. Robert J. O’Neill previously tweeted a photo of him not wearing a face mask on a Delta flight. Subsequently, as per the airline’s strict policy regarding coverings, he had now been penalized. The former Navy Seal confirmed the banning on Thursday.

Delta Air Lines
Delta will no longer allow a former United States Navy Seal to fly on its services. Photo: Getty Images

Tension in the air

According to NBC New York, O’Neill was on a Delta Connection service on Wednesday from Minneapolis to Newark when he took the picture. The post under scrutiny has since been deleted, but it was captioned with him claiming that he was “not a {expletive}”. Since then, the passenger has been vocal about the situation.

The carrier has been expressive about its mask policy and has not shied away from banning passengers in the past. It had already banned 100 customers due to mask-related incidents by the third week of July. Moreover, the operator has even turned planes around amid non-compliance.

Strict policies

Altogether, Delta requires all of its customers and employees to wear a face mask, or appropriate cloth face covering over their nose and mouth throughout their journey. Additionally, the company does not approve of any mask with an exhaust valve. Those with a plastic face shield can wear it on top of a mask but not as a replacement.

The airline states that passengers must wear these masks on board during the whole duration of the flight unless they are eating or drinking. Additionally, coverings must be worn at check-in lobbies, lounges, boarding gate areas, and jet bridges.

There may be exemptions due to disabilities or health conditions. However, the company encourages anyone in this category to reconsider travel. If they do decide to hit the skies, they must complete a ‘Clearance-to-Fly’ process before departure.

A Delta spokesperson shared the following statement when asked about the incident:

“Part of every customer’s commitment prior to traveling on Delta is the requirement to acknowledge our updated travel policies, which includes wearing a mask. Failure to comply with our mask-wearing mandate can result in losing the ability to fly Delta in the future.”

Delta CRJ900
Delta Connection services such as the one where this week’s incident happened are often on CRJ900 aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

Vocal response

The passenger first said in 2014 that he fired the shots that killed bin Laden during the 2011 raid in Abbottabad. He had since been praised by several members of the public for his efforts.

This week, he claims that he was making a joke when he took the picture that showed him not wearing a mask and that he merely temporarily removed it to eat. He says he doesn’t feel that he violated Delta’s policy and would like to talk to the airline’s CEO, Ed Bastian, about the issue.

However, according to Fox Business, the passenger said he doesn’t have a problem with putting a mask on if someone felt uncomfortable, but he has a problem being ordered to do it. Ultimately, he claims the photo was a “peaceful protest” attempt.

American and Delta Aircraft
Delta isn’t the only US airline with strict mask policies in place. Photo: Getty Images

The saga continues

Nonetheless, the theme that O’Neill portrayed in the photo was that he was not a coward by removing his mask. However, mask-wearing isn’t only a factor that can protect oneself. It’s something that would also protect others. Additionally, the United States is still struggling to keep on top of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, any motive that implicates efforts to uphold passenger safety wouldn’t be passed over so lightly.

Regardless, mask-wearing was already a heavily debated topic in the US before this incident. Now, since O’Neill is a heavily-decorated serviceman and was part of one of the most significant moments in modern history, there will undoubtedly be more discussion about how airlines are responding to these events.

What are your thoughts about Delta banning this passenger? Do you agree with how the airline responded? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.

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