London-bound flight TURNS BACK because passenger wouldn't wear a mask

London-bound American Airlines flight turns back to Miami an HOUR AND HALF into journey because ‘disruptive’ female passenger refused to wear a mask

  • The American Airlines Flight AAL38 came back to Miami International Airport and was met by police 
  • The passenger, a woman in her 40s, was escorted off the plane, according to Miami-Dade police. 
  • She was not arrested but has been added to American Airlines’s internal no-fly list pending an investigation 
  • The flight – a Boeing 777 carrying 129 passengers and 14 crew members to Heathrow in London – was approximately 500 miles into a 4,400-mile flight 
  • American Airlines apologized in a statement Thursday
  • Were you on American Airlines Flight 38? Contact us at [email protected] 

A flight from Miami to London Wednesday night turned around and went back to the point of departure because a passenger refused to follow the federal mask mandate on planes. 

The airline called Miami police and officers escorted a woman off the plane at Miami International Airport Wednesday evening without incident. 

A spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Police Department said American Airlines staff dealt ‘administratively’ with the passenger. 

The passenger, a woman in her 40s, was not arrested. It was unclear if she was British or American. She was put on American Airline’s internal no-fly list pending further investigation.

American said there were 129 passengers and 14 crew members on the plane. Pilots turned the Boeing 777 around about 500 miles into the 4,400-mile transatlantic flight. 

A London-bound American Airlines flight turned back about 500 miles into its 4,400-mile journey from Miami

An American Airlines passenger jets prepare for departure as flight crews look on

The airline apologized in a statement Thursday.  

‘Flight 38 with service from Miami (MIA) to London (LHR) returned to MIA due to disruptive customer refusing to comply with the federal mask requirement,’ a spokesperson said. ‘The flight landed at MIA where local law enforcement met the aircraft. We thank our crew for their professionalism and apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.’ 

Airlines reported nearly 6,000 incidents involving unruly passengers last year and 151 in the first two weeks of this year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Most of them involved passengers who refused to wear masks. 

The flight was canceled as a result of the incident. Many passengers had to stay overnight in Miami to catch a re-booked flight on Thursday.  

‘We weren’t given any instructions, just told that we had to go back and now we can’t get our luggage,’ said one passenger to CBS4.

Many on the plane had were completely in the dark on why the flight returned to Miami.

‘They wouldn’t really say anything and I don’t think they told the flight attendants anything because all they would say is there was an extreme incident and they had to turn around,’ said another passenger.


American Airlines CEO Doug Parker (left) and Southwest CEO Gary Kelly (right) testified in December that they don’t believe travelers should be forced to wear masks on flights any longer

In mid-December, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said he does not think masks should be required on planes any longer – even as new cases of the Omicron variant spread across the nation.

At a Senate hearing about the financial support airlines received in 2020 and 2021, Sen. Roger Wicker, the ranking Republican on the Senate committee, asked Parker and Southwest CEO Gary Kelly their thoughts on the federal government’s mask mandate for flying.

‘I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add very much, if anything, in the air cabin environment,’ Kelly said. ‘It is very safe and very high quality compared to any other indoor setting.’

Both he and Parker pointed out that airlines improved airflow on board their planes in the wake of the pandemic, noting that high-grade HEPA air filters on planes capture almost all airborne contamination and the cabin air is often exchanged with fresh air from outside.

‘I concur,’ said Parker, according to CNN. ‘An aircraft is the safest place you can be.

‘It’s true of all of our aircrafts – they all have the same HEPA filters and airflow.’

The Transportation Safety Administration first announced its mask mandate for all travelers last year, and extended it in April, with an expiration date of September 13, before extending it again in August through March 2022. 

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