Flight to Bahamas Delayed Over Face Mask Dispute

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An American Airlines flight from North Carolina to the Bahamas was delayed overnight this week after several issues, including a group of teenage passengers who refused to wear masks, according to NBC News.

Flight 893 was scheduled to leave Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday to travel to Nassau. Instead, the flight left on Tuesday morning.

Initially, the flight was delayed for a maintenance issue, the airline told USA Today. During the two-hour delay on the tarmac, some of the students removed their face masks due to a lack of ventilation and “quite unbearable conditions,” said Breakaway Beach, a student travel company. The company was hosting a group of 47 high school graduates on a trip from Boston to Nassau.

The passengers then “became disruptive to other customers and refused to follow crew member instructions while onboard,” American Airlines told NBC News.

“Per procedure, the customers involved were asked to exit the aircraft,” the airline said in a statement. “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.”

There were additional delays, including flight-crew time limitations and concerns with Tropical Storm Elsa, according to The Washington Post.

When a second plane arrived, the 172 passengers were directed to another gate at the airport, but the tour group wasn’t allowed to reboard at that time, the newspaper reported. The captain made the decision after multiple tour group members refused to wear masks, played music with “profane” lyrics through a speaker, used foul language and didn’t stay in their seats on the plane while waiting on the tarmac.

Breakaway Beach said the entire group was labeled as “unruly” and “disruptive” due to the actions of a few of the graduates.

“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 added. “The group was treated in an improper and overly harsh manner, causing unnecessary stress and aggravation to the travelers and their parents from afar.”

At the same time, a passenger who sat near the tour group told WSOC-TV 9 in Charlotte that a large majority of the graduates were “being terrible kids” by yelling, using foul language and “being obnoxious.”

After numerous delays, American Airlines moved the flight to Tuesday morning because the plane would have arrived in the Bahamas after the immigration and customs office closed, USA Today reported.

Ultimately, American Airlines allowed the tour group to board Tuesday’s flight after they all agreed to wear face masks and follow crew instructions.

SOURCES

NBC News: “Flight delayed overnight after passengers refuse to wear masks, American Airlines says.”

USA Today: “American Airlines flight delayed after teens refuse to wear face masks.”

The Washington Post: “A group of teens defied mask rules and delayed a flight. They were allowed to fly the next day.”

WSOC-TV 9: “Students’ tour group blames airline after mask snafu delays flight to Bahamas.”

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