A former Navy Seal who said he killed Osama bin Laden has been banned by Delta Air Lines after a controversial social media post showed he had removed his face mask during a flight.
Earlier this week, Robert O'Neill tweeted "I'm not a p***y" alongside a photo of himself smiling in his plane seat not wearing a mask on a Delta Connection flight Wednesday from Minneapolis to Newark, New Jersey.
Other passengers in the photo, including a man across the aisle who was wearing a Marine Corps hat, were wearing masks.
On Thursday, O'Neill tweeted about the ban, which the airline later confirmed.
"I just got banned from @Delta for posting a picture. Wow," he wrote.
O'Neill took the original post down, claiming on Twitter that his wife asked him to. He also insisted he always wears a mask and that the tweet was "a joke".
However, people found the post offensive as they believed his comment attacked the fellow passenger he took a photo of.
"Neither is the guy in the USMC hat," one Twitter user replied, referring to O'Neill's slur. "And once again he's serving his country by doing what he can to protect your right to be wrong."
"You're endangering a veteran's life. How patriotic," another person responded, while others noted the elderly passenger was "more susceptible than you are and smarter also !!"
O'Neill responded to his critics in a tweet saying: "This was not a dig at the Marine behind me. I love Marines ..."
Others also came to O'Neill's defence, with one writing: "Life on the line and three shots into OBL for all of us ... but doesn't wear a mask (that doesn't really work anyway) and he's all of the sudden selfish."
The Navy Seal later posted: "Thank God it wasn't @Delta flying us in when we killed bin Laden ... we weren't wearing masks ..."
The airline said in a statement: "Part of every customer's commitment prior to travelling on Delta is the requirement to acknowledge our updated travel policies, which includes wearing a mask.
"Failure to comply with our mask-wearing mandate can result in losing the ability to fly Delta in the future."
All major US airlines require passengers to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Delta says it has banned more than 100 passengers for violating the rule.
O'Neill first said in 2014 that he fired the shots that killed bin Laden during a 2011 raid on the terrorist's compound in Pakistan
The US government has neither confirmed nor denied the account. O'Neill later wrote a book about his time in the Seals.
- additional reporting AP