Chaos broke out at Miami International Airport last night as a planeload of passengers were left stranded following a row over masks. Eyewitnesses report that a couple, who were wearing masks, were traveling with a 16-month-old baby and were asked to leave the plane as the infant was not wearing a mask. The airline denies that this is the case.
Frontier flight canceled over mask row
The flight was reportedly the 19:00 Miami to La Guardia service, F92878, which operates using an Airbus A320neo. Yesterday, N358FR ‘Ichabod the Whooping Crane’ was scheduled on the service but was destined to never take to the air.
Passengers filtered onto what looked to be a very busy service up the east coast, and preparations were being made for takeoff. However, a disruption occurred towards the rear of the plane, involving an altercation between cabin crew and a couple traveling with a baby.
Eyewitness reports suggest that the airline crew had raised an issue with the child not wearing a mask. The baby, seated in a baby carrier, was only 16 months old, therefore, was exempt from the Federal law requiring masks to be worn. However, the disagreement escalated until the couple were asked by crew to leave the plane.
Whatever the root cause of the incident, it resulted in a much bigger deplanement than Frontier had planned for. As the couple began to leave the aircraft, relatives and friends stood up to leave too. At this point, the Frontier crew told everyone to get off the plane.
As is the trend in our modern times, multiple smartphones were out and filming the incident. Within hours, the footage was being shared on social media documenting the ugly details of the situation.
Disturbing incident the last hour on a @FlyFrontier flight as staff told a Hasidic couple to get off because their 18 month old had no mask. Applause is heard as the couple started leaving. Travels say on camera that the applause came from staff who also cheered that “we did it.” pic.twitter.com/rA2JQmI1tU
— OJPAC (@OJPAC) March 1, 2021
The chaos continued in the terminal as passengers from the plane confronted check-in staff over the incident. One passenger said that he ‘heard some nasty things’ being said on the plane.
MORE VIDEO! Another passenger who was not part of the travel group and not in the same ethnic group as the victimized travelers is alleging that “they are saying some nasty things… I heard some nasty things being said…. They (@FlyFrontier staff) are making it worse.” pic.twitter.com/lP8T6JR5tw
— OJPAC (@OJPAC) March 1, 2021
A passenger speaking to VIN News claimed that the family had offered to try and put a mask on the child but that by that point, the airline just wanted them off. The flight was cancelled outright, and despite Frontier staff reportedly telling some passengers a different flight would be scheduled for 21:00, no flight took place and travelers were left to find overnight accommodation in Miami.
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The airline’s response
The airline vehemently denied that the issue was related to the young child. Posting a statement to Twitter, it said that the reason for removal was due to “repeated requests to comply with Federal Law.”
Members of a large group, including adults, refused to wear masks as flight 2878 was preparing for departure from MIA-LGA. Repeated requests to comply with federal law necessitated their removal from the flight. The issue did not stem from a child under 2.
— Frontier Airlines (@FlyFrontier) March 1, 2021
In a statement to the New York Post, Frontier expanded, saying,
“Multiple people, including several adults, were asked repeatedly to wear their masks and refused to do so.”
“Based on the continued refusal to comply with the federal mask mandate, refusal to disembark the aircraft and aggression towards the flight crew, local law enforcement was engaged.”
Witnesses report as many as 15 police officers attending the scene to deal with the disruption. Passengers are reported to be continuing their journey on an alternative airline.