American Airlines is investigating whether US climate envoy John Kerry broke the rules and took off his mask on a recent flight.
According to the Tennessee Star, which first reported the story, Mr Kerry was photographed without a mask as he sat first-class on a flight between Boston and Washington.
The airline said in response to one comment on an alleged photo of Mr Kerry that it was investigating the incident.
“We require masks on board our aircraft and are looking into this,” the airline wrote on Twitter.
The envoy said on Twitter on Wednesday if the mask slipped, it was only briefly.
“Feels like there’s some St. Patrick’s day ‘malarkey’ afoot on Twitter,” Mr Kerry said in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon. “Let’s be clear: If I dropped my mask to one ear on a flight, it was momentary. I wear my mask because it saves lives and stops the spread. It’s what the science tells us to do.”
Senator Cruz was criticized in 2020, after photos of him sitting on a flight with no mask were widely shared. Mr Cruz’s office said he followed airline policy and was taking off his mask to sip coffee.
Conservatives online pointed to the photo as a sign of liberal hypocrisy around wearing masks.
“Hey @AmericanAir, you’ve clearly reversed your mask policy as @JohnKerry here demonstrates,” TV host John Cardillo wrote in a tweet on Wednesday. “All passengers will enjoy the same comfort now, right?”
American Airlines confirmed toThe Independent that masks are required on its flights and that it is investigating the incident. The White House and State Department did not respond to a request for comment and confirmation on this breaking news story.
Mr Kerry, who is 77, is likely vaccinated, as many top federal officials have already gotten the vaccine, and he would also be eligible under Washington DC’s general vaccination guidelines, which allow anyone over age 65 to get the jab.