A flight from Miami to London Wednesday night turned around and went back to the point of departure because a passenger refused to follow the federal mask mandate on planes.
The airline called Miami police and officers escorted a woman off the plane at Miami International Airport Wednesday evening without incident.
A spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Police Department said American Airlines staff dealt ‘administratively’ with the passenger.
The passenger, a woman in her 40s, was not arrested. It was unclear if she was British or American. She was put on American Airline’s internal no-fly list pending further investigation.
The flight was canceled as a result of the incident. Many passengers had to stay overnight in Miami to catch a re-booked flight on Thursday.
A London-bound American Airlines flight turned back about 500 miles into its 4,400-mile journey from Miami
An American Airlines passenger jets prepare for departure as flight crews look on
The airline apologized in a statement Thursday.
‘Flight 38 with service from Miami (MIA) to London (LHR) returned to MIA due to disruptive customer refusing to comply with the federal mask mandate,’ a spokesperson said. ‘The flight landed at MIA where local law enforcement met the aircraft. We thank our crew for their professionalism and apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.’
American said there were 129 passengers and 14 crew members on the plane. Pilots turned the Boeing 777 around about 500 miles into the 4,400-mile transatlantic flight.
‘We weren’t given any instructions, just told that we had to go back and now we can’t get our luggage,’ said one passenger to CBS4.
Many on the plane had were completely in the dark on why the flight returned to Miami.
‘They wouldn’t really say anything and I don’t think they told the flight attendants anything because all they would say is there was an extreme incident and they had to turn around,’ said another passenger.
Passengers forced to return to Miami International Airport Wednesday night after the plane headed back to its starting point
In mid-December, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said he does not think masks should be required on planes any longer – even as new cases of the Omicron variant spread across the nation.
At a Senate hearing about the financial support airlines received in 2020 and 2021, Sen. Roger Wicker, the ranking Republican on the Senate committee, asked Parker and Southwest CEO Gary Kelly their thoughts on the federal government’s mask mandate for flying.
‘I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add very much, if anything, in the air cabin environment,’ Kelly said. ‘It is very safe and very high quality compared to any other indoor setting.’
Both he and Parker pointed out that airlines improved airflow on board their planes in the wake of the pandemic, noting that high-grade HEPA air filters on planes capture almost all airborne contamination and the cabin air is often exchanged with fresh air from outside.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker (left) and Southwest CEO Gary Kelly (right) testified in December that they don’t believe travelers should be forced to wear masks on flights any longer
‘I concur,’ said Parker, according to CNN. ‘An aircraft is the safest place you can be.
‘It’s true of all of our aircrafts – they all have the same HEPA filters and airflow.’
The Transportation Safety Administration first announced its mask mandate for all travelers last year, and extended it in April, with an expiration date of September 13, before extending it again in August through March 2022.
Airlines reported nearly 6,000 incidents involving unruly passengers last year and 151 in the first two weeks of this year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Most of them involved passengers who refused to wear masks.
In December, a Florida man wearing red women’s underwear as a face mask was kicked off an airplane prior to takeoff – followed by other passengers who also got off in support.
Video footage of the Wednesday morning incident shows staff on United Airlines confronting Adam Jenne, who had underwear covering his nose and mouth, as he waited onboard for his flight from Fort Lauderdale to Washington to take off.
‘You’re going to have to come off the airplane. We’re not going to let you travel,’ said a flight attendant in a cell phone video recorded by a passenger.
‘Why?’ responded Jenne in the video, which was obtained by Fox4.
‘You’re not in mask compliance,’ said the attendant in the video.
Jenne, 38, of Cape Coral, Florida, told the outlet that the underwear was within TSA guidelines – a federal law until at least May – despite the fact that he doesn’t agree with the rule requiring passengers to wear masks on planes.
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Video footage shows United Airlines staff confront Adam Jenne, pictured, with underwear covering his nose and mouth, onboard a flight from Fort Lauderale to Washington DC
In October, an apparent anti-masker boarding a United flight became the latest unruly passenger to get hauled off a plane by cops after he screamed at a flight attendant and threatened fellow flyers when he was asked to put on his mask.
The unidentified passenger went on a foul-mouthed tirade on the Los Angeles-bound flight, warning someone who tried to diffuse the situation, ‘I’ll break your neck!’
TikTok user Alexander Clark posted the footage last Thursday of the raving anti-masker, who was seated directly behind him.
The viral video posted to Clark’s Tik Tok account @starcadearcade – which has been viewed 4.3 million – begins with the anti-masker angrily yelling at a male flight attendant after he was asked four times to put his phone away and put his mask on.
‘What the f*** you talking to me like that for bro?’ he aggressively asked the flight attendant.
Tik Tok user Alexander Clark recorded the moment an anti-masker was seen screaming and threatening other passengers and yelling at a flight attendant after he was asked to hang up his phone and put on his mask 4 times
In August, a woman on a JetBlue flight from Palm Beach to Hartford was arrested and taken off the plane on a wheelchair after she refused to comply with the mask mandate.
The incident, recorded by Tik Tok user Brooklyn DeGumbia, was fighting with JetBlue staff and police officers and had apparently delayed the flight for three hours.
Another woman in July also refused to wear a mask on an American Airlines flight from New Orleans to Dallas.
Passengers witnessed the woman screaming and throwing a tantrum, even after she was removed from the flight.
The woman was arrested for disturbing the peace and simple assault after she aggressively resisted being taken off the plane by staff and officers.