An American Airlines flight between North Carolina and the Bahamas was delayed overnight after a group of students refused to comply with the federal mask mandate, the airline said.
Flight 893 was scheduled to take off Monday morning from Charlotte Douglas International Airport at 9:30 a.m., but was initially delayed due to mechanical issues that forced passengers to change planes.
Stephanie Krzywanski, a passenger on the flight, said as travelers boarded the new plane, some passengers were refusing to wear their face masks.
“There was a group of high school students celebrating their graduation who were rowdy, didn’t listen and didn’t wear a mask,” she said.
American Airlines has confirmed Krzywanski’s account of what happened.
“By procedure, the customers involved have been asked to exit the aircraft. We expect our customers to comply with our policies when choosing to fly with us, and we take action when not. the case, “American Airlines said in a statement.
The conflict created what the airline called an “extended delay”, with Monday’s flight finally being rescheduled for Tuesday morning. The airline said it provided all passengers with meal vouchers and hotel rooms before their rescheduled flight on Tuesday.
“They (the flight crew) really deserve to be recognized for what they’ve done,” Krzywanski told NBC’s Charlotte subsidiary WCNC during a video call from the plane.
Breakaway Beach, the travel company that booked the student trip from Boston to Nassau, told NBC that only one or two of the group of 47 high school graduates acted to get them off the plane. One person was escorted off the plane but neither received a ticket nor charged. The company said that passenger’s actions led to the entire group of graduates being labeled “unruly” and “disruptive.”
Breakaway Beach also blamed American Airlines, saying the mechanical issues resulted in a delay of several hours on the tarmac, during which some of the students “may have taken off their masks” due to the lack of air conditioning, poor ventilation and “quite unbearable conditions.”
The company noted that the group of students were not allowed to board the second plane and American Airlines postponed the flight because the plane’s crew had overtaken the hours and they could not find a pilot from replacement.
And while most of the passengers were given accommodation vouchers, Breakaway Beach said American Airlines told the group of graduates that they would not be given a hotel overnight because they were “underage.” The tour operator said it provided the hotel and food, as well as a separate airport transfer on Tuesday due to hostility from other passengers over “their perceived responsibility for the postponement of the flight.”
American Airlines cleared the group to board Tuesday morning’s flight after they all agreed to abide by the mask’s warrant.
“I think it’s a really bad idea for them to let a bunch of kids that everyone is angry with back on the plane,” Krzywanski said on Monday.
Delta Flight 1730 made an emergency landing in Oklahoma City after an unruly passenger disrupted the flight.
Flightaware tracking data shows that the rescheduled flight 893 arrived at Nassau Lynden Pindling International Airport on time Tuesday at 11:50 a.m.
Since the start of 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration says it has received more than 3,200 reports of unruly passenger behavior and about 75% of those cases are from passengers who refuse to comply with federal mask mandates.
Current federal mask warrants require travelers on trains, buses, commercial flights, and at airports to wear face masks. The term, which was extended in the spring, is currently due to expire on September 13.
The FAA has fined unruly travelers totaling $ 682,000 this year alone and identified potential violations in 540 cases.