A flight to London turned swiftly around due to a passenger’s misconduct. The passenger’s refusal to wear a mask clashed with Biden’s federal mask policy. Due to this violation, the American Airlines plane had to return to the U.S.
The customer was reportedly a substantial disturbance, refusing to mask after multiple attendants asked. American Airlines’ Boeing 777 with more than 120 passengers had to emergency land in Miami due to this volatility. Police were stationed at the Miami terminal to detain the law-breaking passenger.
American Airlines staff and Miami officers escorted the customer off the plane and into police custody. At this time, the disruption landed this passenger on the no-fly list. American Airlines will still investigate to see if the no-fly list is warranted, but with more than 120 witnesses, the situation doesn’t look good for the disruptive individual.
Luckily, nothing physical occurred between the passenger and American Airlines staff. The Miami police reported that the individual was removed from the aircraft without any refusal or physical altercation. Shortly after, American Airlines released a statement apologizing to the law-abiding customers for the inconvenience. The other 129 American Airlines passengers were rescheduled to new flights that day or in the days following. Luckily, there were no hospitalizations or injuries reported from the London-bound aircraft.
Throughout the pandemic, people have thrown tantrums in public settings regarding mask mandates or refusing to put on a mask when asked. Airlines, similar to what happened to American Airlines, have been experiencing increasingly volatile behavior from passengers on planes. Last year, these incidents rose to a record number, making up 5,981 altercations. Most of these incidents were explicitly tied to mask-wearing, with passengers upset by the federal mask mandate.
The Federal Aviation Administration recorded 151 incidents under the “unruly passengers” category this year. There’s been a slight dip since the rise of reported cases in 2020, hopefully aligning with passenger’s assimilation from two years of mask-wearing. But the FAA’s report only records the number of incidents reported, so there’s no complete number for airline disturbances. American Airlines and other airlines experiencing in-flight mask refusals can give out $37,000 fines for unlawful individuals or have them persecuted by law enforcement.
American Airlines isn’t the only airline to experience mask refusal this week. Yesterday, a Delta passenger flying from Ireland to New York was responsible for multiple unruly incidents. After refusing to wear a mask, the customer threw a can at a nearby passenger and mooned the flight attendant. After refusing to put on a mask multiple times, the passenger seemingly went ballistic, committing crimes left and right. Police quickly met the Delta passenger in New York and took him immediately into custody.
One day after the American Airlines flight returned, United Airlines also reported a similar incident. A few hours into a flight for Tel Aviv, the aircraft U-turned back to the New York terminal. The flight crew reported mass unruly behavior but didn’t have further details on the incidents. Assumingly, there were too many occurrences of disruptive behavior to continue the scheduled flight.