American Airlines blames overnight delay on ‘disruptive’ Massachusetts students refusing masks

Massachusetts News

The flight (not pictured) was scheduled to fly from North Carolina to the Bahamas on July 5. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) — A large group of disruptive students from a school near Boston was responsible for causing the overnight delay of an American Airlines flight last week, according to the airline.

The incident—which allegedly involved students using foul language, refusing to stay in their seats, and defying mask requirements—is now being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the agency confirmed.

The flight was scheduled to leave from North Carolina for the Bahamas on Monday shortly after 9:30 a.m. Due to a maintenance issue, the plane was taken out of service, staff made everyone deplane, and passengers boarded a different aircraft.

While still aboard the plane, however, members of the group were repeatedly approached by crew members for noncompliance issues. “Prior to departure on July 5, multiple members of a group traveling on American Airlines Flight 893 from Charlotte to Nassau, Bahamas were reported to be noncompliant with federal mask requirements, became disruptive to other customers, and refused to follow crew member instructions while on board,” reads a statement released by the airline after the incident.

The plane’s captain then decided to deny boarding to the group, preventing them from flying on the replacement aircraft. During this time, the group’s luggage was removed from the original aircraft, causing a further delay that necessitated the replacement of crew members who were not permitted to stay on duty after the delay.

American Airlines then delayed the flight overnight, since Immigration and Customs in the Bahamas would have been closed by the time the flight arrived in Nassau. The disruptive passengers, said to be part of a group containing individuals and one chaperone, were allowed to continue on to the Bahamas the following morning.

“As a result of issues associated with members of the group, the flight incurred multiple delays before departing for Nassau on Tuesday, July 6,” the airline’s statement continued. “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. We thank our team members for their professionalism and apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.”

American Airlines did not comment on its decision to allow the group to fly rather than ban them from traveling with the airline.

A representative for Breakaway Beach, the company that organized the group’s senior trip to the Bahamas, has since alleged that only one of the teens had refused to wear a mask, not the multiple members American Airlines had accused of defying the federal mask mandate, the Boston Globe reports.

The group was from Winthrop High School near Boston, the organizers further confirmed to the outlet.

The FAA has since confirmed its administrators are “aware” of the incident and will be investigating, just as the agency would do for “all reports it receives from airlines.” The alleged incident occurred after the FAA announced a “zero-tolerance” policy, which imposes steeper fines and harsher penalties for unruly passengers. The policy was first announced in January.


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