A man wearing a gas mask on an American Airlines flight in Texas was escorted off the plane when the face covering alarmed his fellow passengers, according to a new report.
The passenger was on a commercial flight at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport on Thursday evening when the black mask he was wearing sent people into a frenzy — and delayed the scheduled takeoff to Houston, KTRK reported.
“@AmericanAir, Just FYI flight 2212 to Houston was delayed an hour because you let this guy on the plane wearing a gas mask,” passenger Joseph Say tweeted, along with a photo of the masked passenger. “This then panicked people on the plane and we had to wait for him to be escorted off.”
Say told KTRK that he heard some “commotion” on the plane before spotting the man wearing a black mask.
“I looked up and saw a guy coming onto the plane wearing a full gas mask, which was kind of odd,” he said. “He didn’t have a filter, which I thought was more strange.”
“Immediately, people start talking in the back of the plane,” he continued. “They were worried. Most people wanted him off the plane.”
A flight attendant asked the man to remove the mask — a request that he refused, according to the report. When the crew called security, he walked off the flight. It was unclear if he was charged with a crime.
The woman sitting next to the masked passenger said he “wanted to make a statement,” according to Say.
“I don’t know what the statement was. I’m not sure what his goals were. To me, it seemed inconsistent,” Say told the station. “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.”
An American Airlines spokesperson called it a “PR stunt.”
The flight, which was scheduled to leave Dallas just before 7 p.m., was delayed by 50 minutes. It arrived in Houston at 9:07 p.m., according to the report.
“The passenger was rebooked on the next flight to Houston, and flew without the mask on yesterday evening,” the carrier told the station Friday, referring to an earlier flight from Los Angeles to Dallas.