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American Airlines booted 20 Utah passengers – 10 adults and 10 kids, all from the same family – from a flight to Dallas over noncompliance with its face-covering policy.
Family member Scott Wilson cried foul over their ouster from Flight 1214, telling KSL-TV that one mask slipped below one of the passengers’ nose but was quickly corrected.
“I didn’t really see who it was but somebody said, ‘Hey, you know, keep your mask up,’” Wilson told the station. “I dropped everything and moved it up, picked up my stuff and made our way to the back of the plane.”
But after the large family sat down, a gate agent in Salt Lake City walked up and delivered the bad news.
“He said, ‘Well, they want you to leave the plane,’” Wilson said. “I said, ‘What, they want us to get off the plane? Can we talk? Can we have a conversation?’ Nobody has even really talked to us.”
After heading to the front of the plane to relay the request, the agent returned to say the captain wanted the whole group — including the children, aged 3 to13 — off the plane.
“He says, ‘I’m sorry, it has to be the whole family,’” Wilson told KSL-TV.
“There was actually a couple families around us that stood up and was like, ‘This is wrong, that guy is being a jerk.’ He was yelling at other people as they came on, too, and he was already mad at these guys. They didn’t do anything,” he added.
One witness told the news outlet that he saw the family wearing masks at all times and feels they were unfairly removed.
He said he told that to the airline, which interviewed him after the flight.
The family was split up and later rebooked on American, United and Delta flights to make it to Hawaii the same day.
They said the other gate agents were on their side.
“They were livid. They were mad at this guy and said, ‘He is the one with the problem, you guys did nothing wrong. We’ve never seen anything like this. We’ve never had a situation like this, and he was totally in the wrong by doing what he did,’” Wilson said.
In a statement to KSL, American Airlines said the famiy members “were reported to be noncompliant with our mandatory face covering policy, which requires face coverings be worn properly over the nose and mouth.
“Per procedure, the customers involved were asked to exit the aircraft before departure and the flight departed for DFW shortly after,” it said.
“American, like other U.S. airlines, began requiring customers to wear a face covering while on board aircraft beginning May 11. We have since strengthened our policy to require face coverings be worn at airports and on board, and announced in June that we may deny future travel for customers who refuse to wear a face covering for the duration of this requirement.”
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