A Spirit Airlines flight attendant has threatened to call police on a passenger who was wearing a neck gaiter as a face covering, claiming it was 'illegal' because it did not have two layers of cloth.
The incident, which occurred during a flight on the budget carrier sometime last week, was recorded by the passenger and posted to social media.
The video was picked up by SV News on Friday and has since gone viral, with many debating whether neck gaiters - which can be pulled up over the nose and mouth - are adequate face covering for a domestic flight.
The passenger's gaiter was also covered in stars and stripes, prompting some to accuse the flight attendant of being anti-American - an accusation that was swiftly shut down by Spirit.
The video begins with the flight attendant asking the passenger to put on a face mask provided by the airline. The passenger responds that he is already wearing a face covering.
'No,' the attendant scolds. 'What do you have underneath it [the gaiter]? That is not legal to wear.''
'Legal by who? What's wrong with my mask?' the passenger snaps back.
'It's not legal according to the CDC,' the attendant claims, before later say that the 'authorities' will be waiting for the passenger when the plane lands.
The passenger claims he has flown '20 times' wearing just the neck gaiter over his nose and mouth, and has not run into any problems.
The video cuts off before the issue is resolved, and it's unclear whether police subsequently met the man at the arrivals gate.
Spirit is standing by the flight attendant, releasing a statement on Friday, which reads in part: '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.'
The incident divided Twitter users, with one writing: ' I'm an American flag lover all the way. Those neck gaiters are worthless though. I used one at the farm while horse back riding and they do not even filter dust. They are basically like taking the thinnest t-shirt you could imagine and putting it over your mouth.'
However, others vehemently disagreed.
One wrote: 'I was literally handed a mask of this type by American airlines.. so they are ok to wear.. it must be because it's a flag... I smell lawsuit'.
Spirit responded to the anti-American accusations, stating: '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.'
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.