American Airlines flight to London returned to MIA after couple refused to wear masks – CBS Miami

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – An American Airlines flight to London from Miami was forced to turn back Wednesday night after a couple refused to wear their face masks.

Flight 38 was about an hour and a half into its flight to Heathrow Airport when it returned and arrived back at Miami International Airport.

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Publicly, American Airlines only says the flight returned “…due to a disruptive customer refusing to comply with the federal mask requirement.”

A source told CBS4 News the pair were suspected of being intoxicated, which comes as no surprise to CBS Travel editor Peter Greenberg.

“As long as they don’t count the number of people who get on planes already drunk, because a lot of these cases involve drinking alcohol before boarding the plane – if they don’t respond to this, this could be the new normal for the rest of the year,” Greenberg said.

The CBS4 source says that among the couple, one person was more the problem.

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The decision not to proceed with the flight was made as they did not want to fly another 7 hours with disruptive and non-compliant passengers.

The police dispatch called for officers to meet the plane at gate D14. Once the plane landed, over 100 passengers were told they had to get off the plane.

“We weren’t given any instructions, we were just told we had to go back and now we can’t get our luggage,” said a passenger.

Many on the plane didn’t know why he was returning to Miami.

“Disappointed. They really weren’t saying anything and I don’t think they said anything to the flight attendants because all they were saying was that there had been an extreme incident and that they had to turn around,” said one passenger.

“They just told us to get off and the police were there,” said another passenger.

American Airlines issued a statement apologizing for the inconvenience.

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“American Airlines Flight 38 with service from Miami (MIA) to London (LHR) returned to MIA due to a disruptive customer refusing to comply with the federal mask requirement. The flight landed at MIA where local law enforcement met the aircraft. We thank our team for their professionalism and we apologize to our customers for the inconvenience caused.

The flight was canceled following the incident. Many passengers stayed overnight in Miami to catch the flight which was re-booked for Thursday.

Theresa Green took advantage of her unexpected stay.

“They took care of us. They put us up in nice hotels,” Green said. ” I had a good day. So I’m fine. I have to see Miami, so everything is fine.

The woman who refused to wear a mask has not been arrested, however, she has been placed on American’s internal no-fly list pending further investigation.

Airlines have frequently banned passengers for the duration of the pandemic if they refuse to follow mandatory mask requirements designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Zach Griff is a senior reporter for The Points Guy. “It’s a very expensive decision on the part of the airlines to turn around and go back to Miami,” he said.

He says that for flyers that don’t follow the masking rules, they could face big fines and expenses.

“It was a major diversion, I can’t imagine how much it must have cost the airline and we’ll see if that cost is passed on to the passenger, the offending passenger who caused the unruly incident,” he said. declared.

Last year, the FAA reported 4,290 incidents related to masks. This year it is at 92 so far.

The FAA says problems with unruly passengers have been cut in half over the past year.

“If you gain altitude, behave. Follow the rules. When you check in for an airline flight, you are accepting that you do not have COVID,” Griff said.

The FAA will investigate the matter. He could impose a fine of up to $37,000.

When we asked the police why the woman had not been arrested, they told us that mask warrant violations are not arrestable offences. They went on to say that if there was a fight or a criminal problem, it would be different.

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It is unclear why it got so out of hand that the flight was turned back.

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