Twenty passengers headed to Hawaii were kicked off a flight by American Airlines on Sunday. Ten adults and ten children (ages 3 to 13) were on board a Salt Lake City to Dallas Fort-Worth flight when, they say, a gate agent flagged one of them for inadvertently letting their face mask fall beneath their nose.
As one family member says, corroborated by another passenger who says they were interviewed by American, they were kicked off not for being mask refuseniks but for a single member of the family have a brief mask slip. They report addressing the issue right away and thinking they’d go on with their flight.
American says the family “was noncompliant with their face covering policy.” An airline agent reported to the family that “the captain of the flight crew needed them off.” And it wasn’t just the one family member, it was the whole family.
According to the witness, though, “the family [was] wearing masks at all times” and was “unfairly removed.” It’s often difficult to sort through passenger versus airline versions of a story, but tellingly American Airlines didn’t just rebook them on later flights (according to the airline, after receiving assurances that the passengers would follow face covering policies) but they even rebooked family members on United and Delta flights to re-accommodate them.
If the airline had been in the right here it seems unlikely that they would have paid for other airline rebooking. According to American Airlines, though:
On Sunday, Jan. 24, passengers traveling on American Airlines flight 1214 from Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) were reported to be noncompliant with our mandatory face covering policy, which requires face coverings be worn properly over the nose and mouth. Per procedure, the customers involved were asked to exit the aircraft before departure and the flight departed for DFW shortly after.
American, like other U.S. airlines, began requiring customers to wear a face covering while on board aircraft beginning May 11. We have since strengthened our policy to require face coverings be worn at airports and on board, and announced in June that we may deny future travel for customers who refuse to wear a face covering for the duration of this requirement.