CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Bahamas-bound flight was canceled Monday after a group of high school passengers refused to wear masks.
American Airlines Flight 893 had been scheduled to depart Charlotte Douglas International Airport at 9:30 a.m. for Nassau, Bahamas. Irate passengers told WSOC, however, that mechanical problems forced a plane switch followed by the mask rebellion that left them stranded in the Queen City overnight, instead.
“Some people’s vacations are ruined. They were only going for a couple of nights. Now, they have to get rebooked,” passenger Stephanie Krzywanski told the TV station.
The airline confirmed to NBC News that the delay was due to passengers who would not wear face coverings and 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,” American Airlines stated.
The “disruptive” behavior of the students was confirmed by at least one passenger, Malik Banks, who was seated next to the group of more than 30 students.
“It was bad. First, they were yelling. They were cursing. They were being very obnoxious,” Banks told WSOC, adding, “It wasn’t all of them. I would say 75% to 80% of them were being terrible kids, saying smart stuff.”
Christina Randolph, a passenger whose vacation will now be one day shorter because of the kerfuffle, lamented the lack of consideration and decorum shown by the group of high schoolers.
“All they had to do was follow the rules, put the mask on, sit there. No smart-mouth comments. And they couldn’t do it,” Randolph told WSOC.
“I’m a nurse, and it’s really, really hard to get time off work, so when you finally get time off, you really want to be somewhere you want to be,” she added.
Breakaway Beach, the student travel company hosting the group of 47 Boston-area high school graduates aboard Flight 893, placed the cancelation’s blame on American, citing a change in crew members, NBC News reported.
The company said in a statement that some of the students “may have removed” their masks due to “unbearable conditions” during the flight’s two-hour mechanical delay. Breakaway Beach also acknowledged that one person associated with the student group was escorted off the plane.
“The actions of this passenger resulted in the entire group of graduates being labeled ‘unruly’ or ‘disruptive,’” Breakaway Beach said in its statement.
The company also told NBC News that American Airlines ultimately delayed the flight by one day because a replacement pilot could not be found after passengers were forced to switch planes.
“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 group was treated in an improper and overly harsh manner, causing unnecessary stress and aggravation to the travelers and their parents from afar,” Breakaway Beach told the network.
The company also stated that American Airlines refused to provide members of its student group food and lodging vouchers during the delay because of the incident.
NBC News confirmed that the airline allowed the entire group on Tuesday morning’s flight after they all agreed to wear their masks.
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