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“I’m tired of paying the airlines to be treated like crap when I get on the plane,” he said on Newsmax’s Spicer & Co on Tuesday.
The senator said the federal mask mandate that means airlines must require passengers to wear face masks is “a joke, it’s theatre” said the Newsmax guest, “there’s no reason to be wearing them on the planes,” he said of masks.
The federal mask mandate was enacted by President Joe Biden via executive order when he took office in January 2021. The mandate requires passengers to wear masks inside airports and on aeroplanes when they are not eating or drinking, to reduce the spread of coronavirus. In August, the mandate was extended until 18 March 2022.
Speaking about his experience flying during the pandemic, Mr Paul told Sean Spicer: “I want them to bring me at least a glass of water and peanuts and I don’t want somebody jammering at me to put my mask on in between peanuts.”
In July, Senator Paul introduced legislation to repeal the mask mandates on public transport.
“The federal government forcing the American people to continue to wear masks despite the fact that we’ve already reached herd immunity is ridiculous and needs to end immediately,” stated his press release on the proposed legislation.
Following Mr Paul’s Tuesday interview, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Republican Representative Beth Van Duyne filed a lawsuit to challenge the mask mandate for those travelling on planes, ships, trains, subways, buses, taxis and in ride-shares.
There were around 500 unruly passenger incidents reported in the first six weeks of 2022. Airlines reported more than 6,000 cases of unruly airline passengers in 2021, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Between January and early October 2021, there were 4,600 incident reports of non-compliance – 72 per cent of these were due to passengers refusing to wear a mask.
Airlines have been calling for a government-coordinated “no-fly list” for unruly passengers on planes. A group of eight Republican senators has pushed back on the proposed “no-fly” list for disruptive passengers, stating that it “would seemingly equate them to terrorists who seek to actively take the lives of Americans and perpetrate attacks on the homeland,” wrote the group in a letter addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday.
“Get serious, come on now,” said Union leader Sara Nelson, who is president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, to the senators fighting the “no-fly” list.
“The flight attendants working these flights have been punched, kicked, spit on, and constantly under assault,” said Ms Nelson said on CNN. “These senators are really not on the right path here in making sure our county remains safe.”
Flight attendants "have been punched, kicked, spit on, disrespected... we need to be very clear about what the rules are, what the consequences are” -Sara Nelson, Pres of Assoc of Flight Attendants to GOP senators who are against putting unruly passengers on federal “no fly list” pic.twitter.com/aHN7CKpNrX
— Ana Cabrera (@AnaCabrera) February 16, 2022