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Ex-Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill, who is credited with killing Al-Qaeda founder and 9/11 plotter Osama bin Laden, wants a meeting with Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian after the carrier banned him over a picture he posted to social media of him sitting on a flight not wearing a mask.
During an appearance on Fox Business Network Friday, O’Neill explained that he only removed his mask to eat and drink during the flight that that, under Delta’s current in-flight coronavirus policies, that’s not a violation.
He went on to say that he’s not “anti-mask.”
“I posted it as a peaceful protest to my Twitter followers,” O’Neill explained, “and I’m pretty sure that’s still protected by a few of the [constitutional] amendments.”
(Source: Fox Business)
He said after news outlets including The New York Times and New York Post brought pressure on Delta, the airline acted.
“You know, Delta’s having an … image problem now as it is, that they’ve been accused of racism and anti-Semitism,” he continued. “I would hate to add anti-American to it.”
After stating that he doesn’t want to “hurt anyone,” O’Neill said he’s been on a lot of flights and that he’s even been awakened by flight attendants and told to raise his mask back over his nose.
After host David Asman asked O’Neill to clarify if he had removed his mask to eat and drink, he affirmed that but also noted that he was protesting.
And to top it off, not only is @mchooyah displaying an obvious lack of respect for fellow veterans, he felt comfortable enough to model his behavior to his platform of 370,000 followers. A disappointment. (2/2)
— VetsForward (@AZVetsForward) August 19, 2020
“People get away with peaceful protest without a mask all the time so if I need to say that’s what it is, but it’s a shame to see Delta’s policies being run by The New York Times,” he added.
In a statement to Fox News regarding its ban of O’Neill, the airline said, “Part of every customer’s commitment to traveling on Delta is the requirement to acknowledge our updated travel policies, which include wearing a mask.
“Failure to comply with our mask-wearing mandate can result in losing the ability to fly Delta in the future,” the statement further noted.
On Thursday, O’Neill wrote on Twitter that he had been banned from the airline after he posted the selfie a few days earlier, a post he said his wife subsequently deleted.
“No shirt, no shoes, no service.”
-Any convenience store
Why is this hard for people to understand? Airlines are businesses who need to protect their employees, and passengers.
It’s a choice- follow the rules and wear a mask; or don’t fly.
— Michelle Genest (@wandainferno) August 21, 2020
“I’m not a p**sy,” O’Neill, 44, a former SEAL Team Six member, wrote in his initial post, according to published reports.
Delta officials were quick to respond to O’Neill’s post.
“We’re aware of this customer’s tweet and are reviewing this event. All customers who don’t comply with our mask-wearing requirement risk losing their ability to fly Delta in the future,” spokeswoman Kyla Ross the New York Post.
“Medical research tells us that wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate,” she added.
O’Neill also noted on his Twitter feed that he had his mask in his lap and had only posted the pic as a gag.
“If someone felt uncomfortable, I’ll put the mask on,” O’Neill told Asman. “I don’t have a problem with that. I do have a problem being ordered to do it. I don’t think I violated the policy. I’d love to talk to the CEO, Mr. Bastian, about it. I’d like to help them because their image right now isn’t very good and I have a million miles on Delta.”
Horrible military discipline. Definitely a blue falcon. https://t.co/stWJKSzLXZ
— Aaron J. Marquez (@Aaron4Arizona) August 19, 2020
In an interview with Fox Business Network earlier in the week, Bastian lamented that air travel was only slowly recovering because of the pandemic.
O’Neill participated in a raid on bin Laden’s Pakistani compound in 2011, and has been credited with killing the terrorist leader, though his account has been disputed. He left the Navy the following year.
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