American Airlines said on Monday that it had reached out to Senator Ted Cruz after a widely shared photograph showed him not wearing a mask on one of its flights.
The photo, posted on Twitter on Sunday night by an employee of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, shows Mr. Cruz sans mask while holding a cup of coffee on a flight.
Another photo shows Mr. Cruz, a Republican from Texas, sitting outside the flight’s gate, also without a mask. A photo shared on a different Twitter account on Monday appears to show Mr. Cruz wearing a red, black and white mask on a flight.
A representative from Mr. Cruz’s office said that the senator wore a face covering when traveling and that he had temporarily removed his mask to eat or drink when he was photographed without one.
“Senator Cruz has repeatedly said since the start of the pandemic we need to follow the science, listen to public health experts and take common sense steps to slow the spread of Covid-19 and reopen our economy,” the spokeswoman said in an email. “That includes wearing face masks, washing hands and social distancing where possible.”
Hosseh Enad, who shared the photos of Mr. Cruz without a mask, works for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a political action committee that works to elect Democratic candidates into the U.S. House of Representatives.
Mr. Enad later wrote that the photos were taken by a friend of a friend. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
It is unclear who took the photo of Mr. Cruz wearing a mask or when it was taken.
A spokesperson for American Airlines confirmed that Mr. Cruz flew with one of its domestic regional partners on Sunday and said that the company reviewed the incident.
“As we do in all instances like these, we reviewed the details of the matter,” the spokesperson wrote in an email on Monday afternoon. “And while our policy does not apply while eating or drinking, we have reached out to Senator Cruz to affirm the importance of this policy as part of our commitment to protecting the health and safety of the traveling public.”
American Airlines announced in mid-June that it would require passengers to wear face coverings while on board its planes and that it would deny boarding to passengers who refused to comply. The policy allows face coverings to be removed while eating or drinking.
Travelers have used social media to call out inconsistencies in airlines’ face mask policies and to share examples of when rules are not enforced.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended wearing nonmedical face coverings to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.