A Spirit Airlines flight attendant recently got into an argument with a passenger over whether or not a neck gaiter is an appropriate face covering aboard its aircrafts, and a video of the encounter created quite the online debate.
The video, which was posted to Twitter on Friday, shows the flight attendant standing in the aisle near the passenger, who was holding the camera. At the time, the passenger was wearing a neck gaiter over his nose and mouth that featured the American flag instead of a mask provided to him by the airline.
The video begins with the passenger informing a flight attendant standing before him that he is "wearing a mask."
“No,” the flight attendant responds. “What do you have underneath it?”
Eventually, the flight attendant tells the passenger that his face covering “isn’t legal to wear.” The passenger responds, "legal by who?" before turning the camera around to show off the gaiter.
The flight attendant informs the passenger that the mask isn’t “legal according to the CDC."
As the two have a bit more back and forth, the passenger argues he’s “been on 20 flights with this same exact mask,” before he adds: “All right, well I’m done talking.”
The flight attendant responds: “Well, so am I. You will have the authorities waiting for you when we land."
More than 1,000 Twitter users reacted to the video on Twitter, and many assumed the flight attendant took issue with the American flag pattern of the gaiter rather than the face covering itself. However, in a statement to Fox News, a spokesperson for the airlines vehemently denied that was the case. Instead, the spokesperson stated that this came down to an issue about health and safety procedures. Additionally, the flight attendant was concerned about the gaiter not including at least two layers of cloth, per the Spirit Airlines' policy stated on its website.
"Safety is Spirit’s No. 1 priority, which is why our face covering policy adheres to CDC guidelines. Our policy requires that all face coverings fit snugly cover the nose and mouth, be secure under the chin and have at least two layers of fabric. The CDC cautions that gaiters may not be effective, which is why we require guests to either double-up neck gaiters so they’re dual-layered and hug the chin, or to wear a standard ear-loop face covering underneath it," a Spirit spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News.
The statement continued: "Spirit Airlines proudly welcomes anyone onboard who wants to show their pride with an American flag on a face covering that complies with our policy. Our flight attendants asked the guest in this video to double up his gaiter. When he refused, they offered him an ear-loop mask to place under his gaiter, and he refused that option, too."
According to the company's website, passengers must wear proper face coverings “while at the airport, on the jet bridge and onboard the aircraft” and they can only be taken off while eating, drinking, or taking medication.
The airline also lists face coverings that don’t meet its policies, including: “open-chin triangle bandanas, face coverings containing valves or mesh material, and face shields.”
However, passengers can wear face shields in addition to approved face coverings, the website says.
“Guests who choose not to comply with our face covering requirement will lose future flight privileges with Spirit,” the website says.