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Travelers hoping to escape to the Bahamas had their flight out of North Carolina delayed overnight because a group of passengers refused to wear masks, according to American Airlines.
Flight 893 was supposed to leave Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Monday for Nassau, Bahamas, but it did not take off until the following day.
The airline said the delay was due to passengers who would not wear face coverings and then “became disruptive to other customers and refused to follow crew member instructions while onboard.”
“Per procedure, the customers involved were asked to exit the aircraft. We expect our customers to comply with our policies when they choose to fly with us, and we take action when that is not the case,” the airline said.
However, a student travel company that was hosting the group placed the blame on American Airlines and said the flight was delayed because of a change in crew members. According to the company, Breakaway Beach, a group of 47 high school graduates were on the flight as part of a tour from Boston to Nassau.
The company said in a statement that the first aircraft the group was one had mechanical issues, resulting in the plane spending at least two hours on the tarmac. During this time, some of the students “may have removed” their masks due to ventilation and “unbearable conditions,” Breakaway Beach said.
One or two people in the group “acted in a manner that resulted in them being removed from the aircraft,” the company said. One person was escorted off the plane but was not ticketed or charged.
“The actions of this passenger resulted in the entire group of graduates being labeled ‘unruly’ or ‘disruptive,’ ” Breakaway Beach said in its statement.
When American Airlines moved passengers to a second aircraft, the entire tour group was not allowed to reboard. Breakway Beach said American Airlines ended up delaying the flight to the next day because they could not find a replacement pilot.
The company said that the airline’s handling of the situation “was incredibly disappointing.”
“The act of one individual is not the responsibility of others, and the students that were abiding by the rules should not have had to endure this type of treatment,” the company said. “The group was treated in an improper and overly harsh manner, causing unnecessary stress and aggravation to the travelers and their parents from afar.”
One passenger affected by the delay was Stephanie Krzywanski. She told NBC affiliate WCNC of Charlotte that the first plane they were on had mechanical issues so everyone was moved to another aircraft. She said it was on the second flight that the group became unruly.
After sitting on the tarmac for hours, everyone was told that the flight was being delayed overnight, she told the news station.
American Airlines said that all customers were provided hotel vouchers and the flight left for Nassau shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday. But Breakaway Beach said in its statement that as a result of the incident, the airline did not give its tour group vouchers.
Breakaway Beach instead had to provide hotel and meal accommodations. American Airlines eventually let the group on Tuesday morning’s flight after they all agreed to wear their masks.
Minyvonne Burke is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.
Kurt Chirbas is a senior editor for NBC News based in New York.
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