A wild fight broke out between two passengers on a Utah bound Allegiant Air flight on Saturday after one passenger confronted another for allegedly refusing the flight attendant's request to wear a face mask as he thought that a face shield was enough to protect him, police said. The man even hit the gate supervisor when he came to remove him from the flight for now following the rules.
The passenger, according to crew members, had flown on the flight a day earlier also and had argued about the issue of wearing a face mask at that time also. Rylie Lansford, another passenger who was sitting close to the two passengers witnessed the entire brawl between the two and took a video of the incident which has gone viral since then.
Although the passenger was finally escorted out of the flight, the video shows him getting into an altercation with one of the passengers and the crew that took turn into a wild brawl. Lansford, who boarded the Allegiant Air flight in Mesa, Arizona, was sitting a row ahead of the two passengers. As soon as the two men started fighting on the Provo-bound flight, Lansford said, she ran to the front of the plane and started recording video.
The fight began when a man sitting just behind her started arguing with a flight attendant after she asked him to cover his face with a mask. The man was wearing a face shield and refused to wear a mask. The video shows the man saying that a face shield was enough and he need not wear a mask.
Following that, another flier sitting in the window seat in Lansford's row yelled, "It's called COVID!" and began shouting obscenities and other threats, Lansford said. Police said the first man told him to mind his own business.
Lansford described the second passenger as being distressed because he was heading to visit his mother at a hospice. The fight started when a gate supervisor came to remove the man for refusing to wear a mask. The man elbowed the gate supervisor following which the brawl broke out. Lansford's video shows the man in front choking the passenger who refused to wear a mask, pulling his hair and hitting him in the back.
The incident created utter chaos inside the flight as some passengers can be heard shouting in the video. Finally, an off-duty police officer intervened and stopped the fight and escorted the man who wouldn't wear a mask off the flight, police said. The second man was allowed to stay on the plane, Lansford said.
Mesa police later revealed the name of the passenger as Rio James Honaker, 52, of American Fork, Utah. Honaker became "confrontational with a flight attendant when asked multiple times to put a mask on," a statement from the police read. "While the passenger was being escorted off the plane, he had an altercation with another passenger. Law enforcement was called to assist," the statement further read.
Allegiant Air said in a statement that passengers are required to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth at all times when traveling. Honaker is facing a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct. The airline's safety team is reviewing the incident and will make a decision if the passenger will be allowed on future Allegiant Air flights.