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American Airlines Says Flight Was Delayed Overnight Because Passengers Refused To Wear Masks
Surgical masks in airplane - stock photo DuKai photographer via Getty Images
DuKai photographer via Getty Images

A flight was delayed overnight due to conflicting reasons from American Airlines and a student travel group, with the airline saying that the delay was caused by a group of passengers refusing to wear face masks.

As reported by NBC News, “Flight 893 was supposed to leave Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Monday for Nassau, Bahamas, but it did not take off until the following day.”

American Airlines reportedly said that it was delayed because of passengers not wearing their required face masks who then “became disruptive to other customers and refused to follow crew member instructions while onboard.”

“Per procedure, the customers involved were asked to exit the aircraft. We expect our customers to comply with our policies when they choose to fly with us, and we take action when that is not the case,” the airline said.

Breakaway Beach, a student travel company that was hosting the group, disputed the airline’s claim and said that the flight delay was caused by a shift in crew personnel. “According to the company… a group of 47 high school graduates were on the flight as part of a tour from Boston to Nassau,” per NBC.

The company reportedly said in a statement that the first airplane had mechanical problems, which led to the plane staying on the tarmac for at least two hours. “During this time, some of the students ‘may have removed’ their masks due to ventilation and ‘unbearable conditions,’ Breakaway Beach said,” per the outlet.

One or two members of the group in question “acted in a manner that resulted in them being removed from the aircraft,” the company reportedly said. One person was removed from the aircraft but was not given a ticket or charged with anything.

“The actions of this passenger resulted in the entire group of graduates being labeled ‘unruly’ or ‘disruptive,’” Breakaway Beach said in its statement. Breakaway Beach added that the way American Airlines handled the incident “was incredibly disappointing.”

“The act of one individual is not the responsibility of others, and the students that were abiding by the rules should not have had to endure this type of treatment,” the company said. “The group was treated in an improper and overly harsh manner, causing unnecessary stress and aggravation to the travelers and their parents from afar.”

After the airline shifted travelers to a second airplane, the whole tour group was reportedly not allowed to get back on the plane. “Breakaway Beach said American Airlines ended up delaying the flight to the next day because they could not find a replacement pilot,” per NBC.

The group was ultimately allowed to get on the flight the following day and the “airline later provided all passengers with meal vouchers and hotel rooms ahead of their rescheduled flight Tuesday,” per local outlet WCNC-Charlotte. As NBC reported, however, “Breakaway Beach said in its statement that as a result of the incident, the airline did not give its tour group vouchers. Breakaway Beach instead had to provide hotel and meal accommodations.”

“After having a conversation with the group, our team at CLT confirmed with the customers that if they can travel on another flight, they will agree to comply with the face covering policy. The customers ultimately agreed and will travel to Nassau tomorrow,” American Airlines said in a statement, per the local outlet.

“Stephanie Krzywanski, a passenger on the plane, said the first flight to the Bahamas was delayed due to a mechanical issue. As passengers were being boarded onto a new aircraft, some of the passengers refused to wear the federally-required masks,” the local outlet reported. Krzywanski added that the travelers had already been on the second aircraft for almost three hours when they heard the flight would be further delayed.

Last month, Democrats blocked a bill introduced to get rid of the federal face mask mandate for public transportation.

Senators Rick Scott (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) attempted to get the bill passed before the mask mandate is set to expire in September, pointing to vaccination rates in the United States and the difficulty that families and children face with the mandate. Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) sponsored a companion bill in the House.

“Now the science is clear that broad mask mandates aren’t necessary. Unfortunately, the CDC has decided to buck the science when it comes to travel and it is still requiring face masks on public transportation,” Scott said on the Senate floor.

“Why is the CDC singling out airlines and public transportation? It doesn’t make any sense,” he added.

“If the airline or other company decides it wants to implement a mask policy, so be it. This does not prohibit them from doing so. I’ve been clear, private companies should be able to make decisions that they feel is appropriate for their employees and their customers,” Scott said.

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