Passenger Forced Off Spirit Flight In New York Over Mask Refusal


Earlier today, a passenger aboard a Spirit Airlines flight to Florida was removed for not wearing a mask. The incident took place on an aircraft set to depart from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The incident was captured on video and posted to Twitter.

Spirit a320
The incident took place aboard a Spirit Airlines flight out of New York’s La Guardia Airport. Photo: Getty Images

As the Spirit Airlines flight was preparing to depart, a male passenger reportedly removed his face covering and was refusing to put it back on, according to the airline. As a result, Port Authority Police officers were called to remove the passenger from the plane.

Incident caught on video

The incident was recorded on video and posted to Twitter by a user named Martin Ogawa. The incident was captured in two separate videos, with the first showing the passenger arguing with police and refusing to leave the aircraft.

In this first video, the man is shown arguing with a police officer and saying that he didn’t do anything wrong and needs to get home to see his father. Later in the first video, the man demonstrates how he was allowed on to the aircraft, by wrapping a headscarf around to cover his mouth.

While the police officer is speaking with the passenger, another person aboard the plane can be heard advocating for the man to be allowed onboard, saying “He paid for the flight…This is America. Let this man fly. Why can’t he go home?”

The second video is clearly within the airport terminal – demonstrating that all passengers had to get off the aircraft. The man can be seen in front of a Spirit Airlines gate agent, presumably working through flight details. Surrounding him are four Port Authority police officers.


Response from Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines responded to Simple Flying’s inquiry by confirming that police were asked to intervene with this incident.

“…after a man boarded flight NK197 from LaGuardia to Fort Lauderdale, took off his face covering and refused to put it back on. Ultimately, the man chose to deplane on his own instead of risking legal consequences.”

The airline adds that it will “always err on the side of caution when it comes to the health and safety of [its] Guests.”

“Wearing a face covering is simple, it’s easy, and it’s critical to Spirit and the airline industry as a whole. We thank the thousands of Guests and Spirit Team Members who do their part each day to protect each other, and we will continue to enforce the use of face coverings on board our aircraft.”

An increasingly common requirement

With the exception of eating or drinking, face masks are required to be worn at all times during the flight. This has been an increasingly common requirement for airlines around the world, and a policy which has commonly been extended into many airport terminals as well.


Some airlines, such as Qatar Airways, are going a step further by requiring face shields to be worn.

Cabin crew with face mask in ryanair cabin
Airlines are reluctant to social distance and block off middle seats. However, masks have become mandatory. Photo: Ryanair

What do you think of this incident? Was Spirit Airlines too quick to call authorities to remove the passenger? Or was the removal justified? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.