IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Flight delayed a full day after passengers refused to wear masks, airline says

One passenger on the flight to the Bahamas said high school seniors celebrating their graduation were not wearing masks.
/ Source: TODAY

A flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to the Bahamas earlier this week was delayed for a day after a group of passengers would not comply with the federal mask mandate, American Airlines said in a statement to NBC News.

American Airlines Flight 893 from Charlotte Douglas International Airport was scheduled to depart for Nassau Monday morning, but it did not take off until roughly 24 hours later. According to the airline, passengers who would not wear masks "became disruptive to other customers and refused to follow crew member instructions while onboard." They were then asked to leave the aircraft, even though internal reports showed the crew had repeatedly reminded them of the mask policy.

A passenger on the flight, Stephanie Krzywanski, told local NBC affiliate WCNC that the passengers who would not comply with face covering policies appeared to be in high school. She said the flight was initially delayed due to a mechanical issue, and when passengers had to board a new aircraft, some would not wear masks. She said the passengers were on the plane for almost three hours before learning the flight wouldn't depart until the next day.

The passengers who Krzywanski said would not wear masks were part of a group hosted by student travel company Breakaway Beach, who blamed American Airlines for the flight's delay in a statement to NBC News. The organization said there were 47 recent graduates on the flight, and only one or two were escorted off the plane, but it was unclear if the cause was not wearing a mask or other unruly behavior.

It also said passengers were told the flight's delay was due to a mechanical issue, and the plane spent at least two hours on the tarmac. "During this time some passengers including the students may have removed masks due to no air-conditioning/ventilation, quite unbearable conditions," Breakaway Beach's statement read. All passengers eventually deplaned, and when they could reboard, the group of students was initially not allowed on, the company said.

Breakaway Beach also said that while most passengers were provided hotel and meal vouchers for the overnight delay, their group was excluded. American Airlines said all passengers were provided hotel vouchers.

The passengers who wouldn't wear masks were allowed to continue on to Nassau when they agreed to wear face coverings.