A Delta Air Lines flight attendant was attacked on Monday night onboard a flight from Miami to Atlanta after a passenger refused to wear a mask. The unruly passenger struck the flight attendant across the face after refusing to comply with onboard safety procedures.
The perpetrator, along with a fellow passenger, got into a verbal altercation with the flight attendant before the dispute escalated. The Miami Dade Police Department eventually removed two passengers from the plane, which was delayed by over four hours due to the incident.
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Passenger refuses to wear a mask
Flight DL1997 was set to depart from Miami en route to Atlanta before the physical altercation took place. One passenger refused to wear a mask and continued to flout safety procedures despite repeated requests from onboard staff.
According to a story by View from the Wing, the mask-refusing passenger was then asked to deplane the aircraft by the flight attendant. The passenger in question was accompanied by a second person, who also took part in the initial verbal confrontation.
Flight attendant assaulted
Eventually, one of the passengers moves physically closer to the flight attendant before striking her across the face. Video footage tweeted by BBC journalist Suzanne Kianpour captures the moment of the assault:
Here’s what happened on our @delta flight from #Miami to #Atlanta tonight after a passenger refused to wear a mask as per policy and then gets into altercation with flight attendant. Video via @kingcoreythefirst on IG pic.twitter.com/TBBYq1VCBb
— Suzanne Kianpour (@KianpourWorld) October 20, 2020
After the assault took place, police were called onboard to remove the two passengers from the flight. As a result of the incident, the flight was delayed by over four hours and finally touched down in Atlanta at 1.32 am on Tuesday.
What are the rules around masks on flights?
On Monday, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reaffirmed its stance that masks should be worn on flights to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Delta has been firm on its mask regulations over the past few months. In July, the airline had banned over 100 passengers for refusing to comply, a number that has risen to over 350 by September.
Delta grants passengers medical exemptions after a consultation with a Delta-approved physician, while children under two are also exempt. However, those without an exemption must wear a mask without exception. CEO of Delta, Ed Bastian, has made sure the airline’s mask policy is clear:
“If you board the plane and you insist on not wearing your mask, we will insist that you don’t fly Delta into the future.”
What happens if I don’t wear a mask on a plane? – @WillieGeist
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 22, 2020
Response by Delta
Delta has yet to release an official statement regarding the incident. However, the airline did speak to Fox 35 Orlando to shed some light on what happened:
“There is nothing more important than the safety of our people and customers. We do not tolerate violence of any kind and this situation is currently under investigation. That’s why two customers who did not comply with crew safety instructions were asked to deplane flight 1997 this evening. We apologize to customers for the flight delay this caused.”
This is not the first incident involving passengers refusing to wear masks. On a KLM flight from Amsterdam to Ibiza, two passengers were eventually jailed after instigating a mass brawl when refusing to comply with mask regulations. In September, a Delta flight was delayed after returning to the gate due to a passenger refusing to wear a mask.
Do you agree with the safety regulations onboard flights? Let us know in the comments.