A Virgin Australia passenger has spoken out after a crew member allegedly urged travelers to complain to the government about mask mandates.
Brisbane-based university lecturer Eddie Synot, 34, tweeted Friday about an “inappropriate” announcement on flight VA916 from Brisbane to Sydney.
The post begins: “Extremely inappropriate @VirginAustralia that your crew captain on VA916 BNE at SYD is complaining to passengers about the Fed’s mask mandate and encouraging passengers to file a complaint with Fed Govt.
“This is a closed space with limited circulation and COVID remains a serious threat #COVID19,” concludes Synot.
The post has racked up nearly 5,000 likes and 1,000 retweets since Friday.
The alleged incident sparked an online debate over airlines’ responsibility in enforcing mandatory health requirements, with some calling the crew member’s behavior “appalling” and “wrong”.
One user wrote: “I was on a flight from Melbourne to Adelaide on Monday. In the row I was in, 4 people were not wearing a mask (sic). Not once. The crew passing by said nothing.”
Another added: “That was my experience when I recently traveled with Virgin. They were so arrogant in their attitude. A passenger threatened me when I asked him to put on his mask.”
Virgin Australia has responded to the tweet, apologizing for the experience and promising to investigate.
Hi Eddie, we are very sorry to hear this. The health and safety of everyone on board is always our number one priority, and for this reason we strongly recommend that all guests adhere to health regulations and wear face masks. (1/2) ^CS
— Virgin Australia (@VirginAustralia)
July 1, 2022
“The health and safety of everyone on board is always our number one priority, and for this reason we strongly encourage all guests to follow health regulations and wear face masks,” reads the comment.
“We also require our cabin crew to wear face masks while working on board an aircraft. We have sent you a DM (direct message) to confirm the date of your flight so that we can investigate this matter further.”
Speak with TravelerSynot explained that he doesn’t want the crew member to lose his job, but feels the airline’s actions were not good enough.
“We recently recovered from COVID and our toddler has also contracted it. He is not vaccinated, cannot be vaccinated and my wife is pregnant,” Synot said.
“I think the ongoing impact and threat of COVID is very serious and messages from airlines in particular in these situations should be in line with guidelines.”
Major airlines in the United States and the United Kingdom have abolished inflight masks mandates ahead of the busy summer travel season. Australians are no longer required to wear masks on board international flights if their destination does not require masks on flights.
Passengers are still required to wear masks on inbound international and domestic flights, despite the lifting of mask mandates at Australian airports from June 17 following advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).
AHPPC said it will provide further advice on the issue of mask requirements on flights.
Qantas Group was the first local carrier to lift mask requirements for some international services last month, calling it “an important step in our transition to living with COVID” in a leaked internal memo to staff.
The airline’s policy now states that masks are no longer mandatory for non-stop flights from New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia to the US, UK and Rome, Italy.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has since spoken of the 2GB mask policy change, saying Australia is “behind the scenes” on the issue.
“An airplane is the safest environment of any transportation in the world. You have these HEPA filters in an airplane that remove 99 percent of all particulates, including COVID-19,” Joyce said.
“We’ve had a change of government… we hope to make rapid progress.”
Meanwhile, as of July 6, the federal government has lifted the COVID-19 vaccination requirements for people traveling to and from Australia.
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