Alex, a Toronto-based flight attendant who has worked for a major Canadian carrier since 2000, has also observed that “the mask issue seems to set certain people off”. Most offenders, in Alex’s experience, have been middle-aged to senior white men – a demographic cohort that roughly echoes Molly’s observation from south of the border. It’s an extension of an increased pattern of behavior Alex began to notice even before the pandemic, wherein more and more passengers (“always white men in business class”) would push back against standard flight rules like wearing seatbelts and storing their hand luggage underneath the seats in front of them.
Another pattern: passengers going to and from cities with stricter Covid safety mandates tend to be more cooperative about following masking requirements on board the aircraft. “In places where there are basically no rules, passengers [are likelier to] think those lax rules also apply in the air,” says Alex.
Although Nelson, the US union president, pushes back against the suggestion that any single group can be singled out as the primary culprit for the ongoing behavioral scourge, she agrees that there appears to be a link between regional attitudes about Covid safety and passenger insubordination, which so frequently involves upset over masks. She lists Texas, Florida and Charlotte as particular hotbeds of unruly passenger incidence.