Passenger removed from Allegiant flight says he only asked a flight attendant to wear a mask
By Shannon McMahon
Allegiant Air removed a passenger from a Labor Day flight preparing for takeoff from Punta Gorda, Florida for "making threatening statements to the flight attendant," according to the airline.
But in a video of the incident shared online which has since been removed, the man can be heard explaining that he had only asked the flight attendant to wear a face mask.
"I need you to come off or I get law enforcement," says an employee in a video shared anonymously to social media news wire Storyful. The passenger says, "I just asked somebody to put on their face mask, that's all I did."
Others on the flight can be heard voicing their support for the passenger as he's escorted off. "That's not right, this is ridiculous," one passenger says, while comments such as "this is not OK," "you're not right," and "just let him be" are heard as well.
In a statement to The Washington Post via email, Allegiant said that the "passenger became disruptive during the preflight safety briefing . . . Following the announcement, the passenger persisted in making threatening statements to the flight attendant, to the point of harassment." The airline said the man was accommodated on another departing flight.
Allegiant also told Newsweek that the flight attendant had lowered their face covering "for speaking into the PA so the briefing could be understood." The airline's mask policy states: "All customers are required to wear a face-covering over their nose and mouth at all times when travelling to help protect them and those around them . . . Face coverings may be briefly removed to eat or drink, but otherwise must be worn at all times including at the ticket counter and gate, during boarding and while onboard the aircraft."
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, many passengers have been removed from flights or even banned from airlines for not wearing masks, with Delta Air Lines recently telling the Los Angeles Times that the airline has banned over 700 anti-maskers. But there has been little talk of flight attendants not following the recommended guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Allegiant has faced backlash on social media in recent days for flight attendants who have been photographed with face masks pulled below their nostrils. In one image, a flight attendant appears to have her mask completely pulled below her mouth.
"Customer and crew safety is paramount," Allegiant wrote to The Washington Post. "Interfering with a crew member is a violation of FAA regulations."
When asked about the videos and photos of flight attendants improperly wearing masks, the airline declined to comment.