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Unruly, maskless passenger forces flight to London to return to Miami | Air industry

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For airline staff, navigating the pandemic has meant dealing with an upsurge in bad behavior, from tantrums to punching flight attendants in the face.

In the latest incident, 129 passengers paid a remarkable price: A maskless “disruptive customer” forced American Airlines flight AAL38 from Miami to London to turn around and fly back, The New York Times reported. The reversal occurred off the coast of North Carolina, after the flight had traveled about 500 miles.

The customer, described by police as a woman in her 40s, “refused to comply with the federal mask requirement,” American Airlines said in a statement to the newspaper.

“Once the aircraft arrived at the gate, the passenger was escorted off the aircraft by MDPD officers without incident. The passenger was then processed administratively by American Airlines personnel,” said a police detective, according to CNN.

Unruly, maskless passenger forces flight to London to return to Miami |  Air industry

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The unusual flight pattern of American Airlines Flight 38, tracked by FlightAware. Photo: Screenshot/FlightAware

Although the result was dramatic in this case, such indiscipline has become commonplace. “It happens every day now,” Sara Nelson, president of the national union of flight attendants, told the Guardian in October after a man asked her to wear a mask and stop talking on the phone. got angry, stormed out of his seat and threatened to break someone’s neck.

In fact, it happens about 16 times a day. That’s according to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, which lists 5,981 reports of unruly passengers last year. A total of 4,290 of these have been listed as “mask-related incidents”. This year – just 20 days away – has already seen 151 incidents, 90 of which were mask-related, although the FAA says the figure has dropped by about half since the start of 2021.

Incidents last year included a woman, who swore at flight attendants and was asked to leave, allegedly punched another woman holding a baby on her way out; a man who was glued to his seat after allegedly groping a flight attendant; and a man who allegedly left a flight attendant with a concussion after punching her in the nose.

Another flight attendant, who wished to remain anonymous, described the situation in stark terms to the Guardian in September: “I’m going to work now and I’m still worried about what’s going to happen, what’s going to trip someone up. one, trigger his anger. It’s a whole new ball game right now and it’s a different kind of passenger we see. »

But there have also been times to offer hope for better behavior: This month, an American woman noticed she had a sore throat while flying from Chicago to Iceland. She went to the toilet, took a Covid test and found she was positive – so she stayed in the bathroom for the rest of the flight, she said.

Unruly, maskless passenger forces flight to London to return to Miami | Air industry

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