Best-selling conservative author David J. Harris Jr. held up an entire American Airlines flight on Saturday, claiming he could not wear a face mask due to medical reasons – and then saying American could not ask about his conditions because it violated his HIPAA rights.
Harris laid out his concerns in a video shot while he was still on board the plane and posted to his Instagram account, as outlined by the Mediaite website.
“So because I declared that I have a medical reason to not wear a mask, people on the plane are tripping out and may not want to fly on this plane,” Harris said. “There are a couple [fellow passengers] that are definitely having an issue, me not wearing a mask.”
American Airlines policy states that “a face-covering is required while flying on American, except for very young children or anyone with a condition that prevents them from wearing one.”
But Harris said he declined to divulge his condition as he felt it violated his personal and medical protections under The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
“They cannot violate your HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) rights at American [Airlines] and ask you anything about your medical issue, so for all the people on the plane who might want to get off, cause they might not feel safe, then get the heck off!” Harris said. “I’m staying right here.”
Airline and airport officials have been pleading with the federal government to mandate the wearing of face masks on all flights to avoid confusion and vagueness.
The aircraft’s captain did speak with Harris, who said the crew attempted to kick him off the plane, but he remained in his seat. The captain then made an announcement over the public address system saying that any passengers who did not feel safe could get off the plane and re-book their travel without a change fee.
American Airlines did not return a request for comment.
Wearing masks on planes continues to be a hot button issue.
Earlier this week, American Airlines booted a woman off the plane for not wearing a mask, to which fellow passengers cheered when she was removed.
Delta Air Lines also recently had to turn a plane around after multiple passengers refused to wear a mask.