President Joe Biden’s special climate envoy John Kerry was spotted Wednesday not wearing a mask while aboard a commercial flight, a photograph obtained by the Tennessee Star shows.
Kerry reportedly took off his mask moments before his American Airlines flight from Boston to Washington D.C. took off, according to the Tennessee Star. The photograph appears to show Kerry sitting in a first-class seat and reading a book. He did not appear to be eating or drinking, one of the few instances when passengers are allowed to remove their masks during flights.
@TheTNStar Exclusive: Biden’s @ClimateEnvoy John Kerry, took off his mask as he settled into a book in his first-class seat just before takeoff today on an @AmericanAir flight Boston to DC. He was not eating, nor drinking. He was simply flaunting Biden’s mandatory mask policy. pic.twitter.com/t1wDq9OtxD
— ReporterMcCabe (@NeilWMcCabe2) March 17, 2021
The passenger who took the photograph confirmed to Fox News they saw Kerry wearing his mask at the boarding gate but he removed it shortly after boarding the flight. The passenger also said they did not see any flight attendants asking Kerry to wear his mask, though he was wearing it for most of the flight. (RELATED: John Kerry Accepted Environmental Award In Iceland After Arriving In Private Jet)
Biden signed an executive order Jan. 21 mandating masks on certain forms of public transportation such as airplanes and trains, as well as on federal property. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a similar mask mandate in a Jan. 29 order that went into effect early last month.
“People must wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when awaiting, boarding, traveling on, or disembarking public conveyances,” the CDC order states.
American Airlines issued a press release Feb. 1 applauding the decision and assuring full compliance, adding that a federal mandate would help reinforce the airline’s existing COVID-19 safety precautions.
“This federal mandate will provide additional support to our crew members who are working diligently to enforce our policy and further reinforce the safety of air travel during COVID-19,” American Airlines chief operating officer David Seymour said.
The photograph of Kerry prompted backlash from prominent conservative figures on social media. Many also accused American Airlines of hypocrisy as the airline had previously removed a mother and her two-year-old son from a flight last year for not wearing a mask.
American Airlines said it was investigating the incident, responding to multiple comments on social media.
“We require masks on board our aircraft and are looking into this,” the airline said.