Vancouver woman says she coughed on a flight and was told to wear a mask because she's Asian
VANCOUVER -- While flying home from Mexico this week, a Vancouver woman says she was told by flight attendants on an Aeromexico flight to wear a mask because she coughed.
Reed Chen had spent two weeks on vacation: one week in Huatulco for a pickleball camp and a second on her own in San Cristobal. During the second week, she came down with a cold.
“I emailed my travel agent right away," Chen said. "I said I wanted to come back. She said, 'With your fever, you may not be able to fly, so you may as well stay and relax until you get better.' I slept for three days. I eat nothing, but drink water.”
Her sickness started to clear and she flew home as scheduled on Feb. 2.
But her flight home left her furious and scared. She says she coughed once and a flight attendant immediately asked if she had been to China. She explained hadn’t been for 20 years.
“Another male flight attendant came to me, this time he was interrogating me," Chen said. "He said tell me where have you been, have you been to China? Have you been to Wuhan?”
A few minutes later he came back with a face mask, telling her the captain requested she wear it.
“I said, 'Did you ask all the people coughing to wear it?'" Chen recalled. "He said, 'No, people only complain about you.' I asked, 'Because I cough?' Because I’m Asian, of course. I’m the only Asian on the whole plane.”
Chen said she refused to put the mask on and the attendant threatened to report her, saying a scanner at the airport would pick up her fever.
“If I ever have anything it’s a Mexican virus," she said. "it’s definitely not coronavirus.”
She says she felt humiliated, singled out, and discriminated against.
“The airline needs to apologize for putting me through such a treatment and they have to change their way of dealing with passengers," Chen said. "My rights cannot be taken away just because some other people are being paranoid.”
Chen has not filed a formal complaint with Aeromexico, but says she plans to contact them. CTV News reached out to the airline, which says it will review the case.