US airliner turns back in mid-flight due to passenger defying Covid-19 mask rule

The American Airlines flight returned to Miami after a passenger refused to wear a face mask, defying a federal Covid-19 requirement. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - An American Airlines jetliner headed from Miami to London turned around in mid-flight on Thursday (Jan 20) because a passenger refused to wear a face mask, the airline said.

"American Airlines Flight 38 with service from Miami to London returned to Miami International Airport due to a disruptive customer refusing to comply with the federal (Covid-19) mask requirement," the airline said.

Police were waiting when the Boeing 777, which was carrying 129 passengers and a crew of 14, landed back in Miami.

When the plane landed, officers escorted that passenger off the plane without incident, a police official told CNN.

American Airlines said that pending further investigation, this passenger has been placed on a list of people barred from flying with the airline.

The United States Federal Aviation Administration said in January 2021 that it would observe a zero-tolerance policy towards people who reject federal rules mandating mask-wearing on domestic flights.

This came as flight attendants reported a high number of incidents of verbal and physical abuse from travellers who refuse to wear a mask.

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