American Airlines was compelled to cancel a flight from North Carolina to the Bahamas after a group of 30 teen students from Boston refused to wear face masks on Monday. All the students were then made to sleep in the airport overnight as they were too young to be checked into a hotel.
Passengers on board the flight said that the unruly student group was "yelling," "cursing" and "being very obnoxious" when they were requested by the crew to pun on their masks. Passengers apart from the student group were given hotel vouchers and the flight eventually took off shortly after 9 am on Tuesday.
No Masks, No Flying
Flight 893 was scheduled to depart from Charlotte Douglas International Airport enroute to Nassau on Monday when passengers say the group of teenagers studying in Boston started creating problem. Passengers on board the flight said that the group, aged 17 and 18, refused to wear their masks as required.
The group had more than 30 students. "It was bad. First, they were yelling. They were cursing. They were being very obnoxious," Malik Banks, one of the passengers and a witness to the entire episode, told WSOC-TV.
However, not all were against wearing masks. "It wasn't all of them," Banks recounted. "I would say 75 percent to 80 percent of them were being terrible kids, saying smart stuff."
The group is believed to have been going to the Bahamas for a graduation trip. One of the passengers, Stephanie Krzywanski, filmed herself on a call with News19 from the plane, and at one point, a maskless young man can be seen waves at the camera.
It is not known if that teen was among the group of those students but he can be clearly seen not wearing a mask. The mask was instead dangling from his chin. "There were a group of high school seniors celebrating their graduation who were being rowdy and not wearing their masks," Krzywanski said.
"What transpired was a lot of back and forth between, I assume, the parents." It is not clear if the teens were being chaperoned given American Airlines allows those aged between 15 to 17 to travel unaccompanied.
Unable to bring the students under control, American Airlines finally decided to cancel the flight for the day. "All they had to do was follow the rules, put the mask on, sit there. No smart-mouth comments," another irritated passenger Christina Randolph said. "And they couldn't do it."
Although the airline issued hotel vouchers to all the other passengers, not too many were happy given that they had to lose a day of their vacation because of these students. "Well, 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," Randolph told WSOC-TV.
An airline spokesperson confirmed that group was "non-compliant" with the federal mask mandate that requires passengers to wear a face covering on planes. The teens then became disruptive to fellow passengers and would not follow instructions from crew members, according to the airline.