American ‘Reached Out’ to Cruz About Not Wearing Mask on Flight


American Airlines Group Inc. said it had “reached out” to Senator Ted Cruz after he was photographed in an airport and on a plane not wearing a mask in spite of the carrier’s requirement that passengers cover their faces.

The pictures of Cruz, a Texas Republican who is chairman of the Aviation and Space Subcommittee, were posted to Twitter by a staff member of the House Democratic campaign arm.

Like other U.S. airlines trying to lure passengers back in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, American requires everyone except small children and those with disabilities to wear masks. People can remove them while eating or drinking. Passengers who refuse can be prevented from boarding or barred from later flights, according to the airline policy.

“For the well-being of our customers and team members, we require face coverings to be worn onboard, and we expect our customers to comply with our policies when they choose to travel with us,” the airline said in a statement on Monday evening. “As we do in all instances like these, we reviewed the details of the matter, and while our policy does not apply while eating or drinking, we have reached out to Senator Cruz to affirm the importance of this policy as part of our commitment to protecting the health and safety of the traveling public.”

Cruz wears a mask “to help promote safety,” but took it off to drink, his office said in a statement. He put the mask back on afterward, according to the statement.

“To help promote safety, Senator Cruz wears a mask when traveling, and practices social distancing where possible,” Cruz’s office said. “Consistent with airline policy, he temporarily removes the mask while eating or drinking.”

Hosseh Enad, who posted the photos of the high-profile conservative lawmaker, said he didn’t buy Cruz’s excuse for not covering his face. Enad, who works for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was not on the flight himself but got the photographs from a friend, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“For those trying to argue that he was drinking, it’s not hard to have a mask on and undo one side to take a sip then put it back on,” Enad said in one tweet. “Most people take their time drinking coffee.”

With the various arms of the Trump administration that oversee airlines and national health policy unwilling so far to enact any specific requirements on passengers to prevent the spread of the virus, airlines have had to impose their own rules.

They have gradually ratcheted up the restrictions. They initially asked passengers to voluntarily cover their faces and told staff not to enforce it. When that met with limited success, most large carriers in recent weeks vowed to take action against customers who balked.

Enad didn’t respond to messages sent to his Twitter page.

Wearing a mask has become embroiled in national politics with President Donald Trump refusing for months to wear one, and some of his supporters have flouted face-covering orders. The president did wear a mask on Saturday during a visit to Walter Reed National Medical Center near Washington.

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