A flight from North Carolina to the Bahamas was delayed overnight this week after a slate of disruptions, including teenage passengers reportedly refusing to wear face masks during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, American Airlines flight 893 was scheduled to leave Charlotte, North Carolina, traveling to Nassau, Bahamas.
The flight was initially delayed several hours because of a maintenance issue with the first plane for the travelers, American Airlines confirmed in a statement to USA TODAY. The airline directed all of the passengers to another gate at the North Carolina airport, but “due to non-compliance with federal face mask requirements, disruptive behavior and failure to adhere to crew member instructions, the Captain made the decision to deny members of the group boarding on the replacement aircraft.”
The flight was pushed several more hours after baggage checked by the travelers was removed from the plane, in addition to other delays, according to the airline. The flight was ultimately moved to Tuesday because, after the delays, the plane would have arrived in the Bahamas after Immigration and Customs resources closed.
“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,” American Airlines said in the statement. The airline also claimed that the group played music with profane lyrics, yelling, and used explicit language. The Washington Post reported that the travelers cited by the airline were identified as a group of teenagers traveling to celebrate their high school graduation.
Breakaway Beach, a student travel company that organized the trip for the teenagers, alleged that the dozens of graduates on the flight were cast as “unruly” and “disruptive” over the actions of a few of its members; the company confirmed to USA TODAY.
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The company also said that as the initial plane with maintenance problems sat outside the airport, “some passengers including the students may have removed masks due to no air conditioning/ventilation, quite unbearable conditions.” All of the passengers, including the students, were allowed to depart on Tuesday to the Bahamas.