Robert O’Neill, the retired Navy SEAL credited with killing terrorist Osama Bin Laden, said Friday he would like the opportunity to speak with Delta CEO Ed Bastian Bastian to reach a resolution after the airline banned him for removing his face mask during a recent flight.
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O’Neill said during an appearance on FOX Business Network’s “Cavuto: Coast to Coast” that he only removed his mask to eat and drink during the flight and his actions did not constitute a violation of Delta’s policy. The veteran added that he was not “anti-mask.”
“If someone felt uncomfortable, I’ll put the mask on,” O’Neill said. “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.”
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Delta declined to comment on O’Neill’s remarks.
Bastian, last week, spoke to FOX Business about the slow recovery the airlines are experiencing due to the pandemic.
O’Neill revealed Thursday night that Delta had banned him shortly after he posted a mask-less selfie with the caption, “I’m not a [expletive].” Later, he said the now-deleted picture was a joke and that he had his mask in his lap when it was taken.
Delta’s current policy requires passengers to wear masks or appropriate face coverings “throughout their travel” with the airline. A company spokesperson confirmed the ban shortly after O’Neill announced it on Twitter.
“Part of every customer’s commitment prior to traveling on Delta is the requirement to acknowledge our updated travel policies, which includes wearing a mask,” a Delta spokesman told FOX Business. “Failure to comply with our mask-wearing mandate can result in losing the ability to fly Delta in the future.”
The ex-Navy SEAL participated in the famous raid on Bin Laden’s compound in 2011 and is credited with firing the shots that killed the terrorist leader. He left the Navy in 2012.
O’Neill said Delta has an “image problem,” adding that he would “hate to add anti-American to it.” He also accused the airline of caving to pressure from various media outlets that ran stories on his dispute with the airline.
“I posted it as a peaceful protest to my Twitter followers and I’m pretty sure that’s still protected by a few of the amendments,” O’Neill said. “Then the New York Post picked it up, the New York Times picked it up and put pressure on Delta.”