American Airlines flight to London returns to Miami when woman refuses to wear mask

An American Airlines flight bound for London was forced to return to Miami on Wednesday after a passenger refused to wear a mask and became disruptive.

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According to airline officials, the flight was 1 hour, 48 minutes into its 8-hour, 35-minute, 4,400-mile trip when a female passenger in first class would not comply with the mask mandate on board the aircraft, WPLG-TV reported.

According to FlightAware, an online flight tracker, the Boeing 777-300ER was cruising at an altitude of 34,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean east of the Carolinas when it had to reverse course, the Miami Herald reported.

Miami-Dade police said the woman was dealt with “administratively” by the airline’s staff when the aircraft returned to Miami, the newspaper reported.

The woman was not arrested and no one was injured, according to the Herald. She was placed on the airline’s internal no-fly list pending further investigation, WFOR -TV reported.

The 129 passengers had to rebook their flights, WPLG reported. There were 14 crew members aboard the aircraft, CNN reported.

“American Airlines Flight 38 with service from Miami (MIA) to London (LHR) returned to MIA due to a disruptive customer refusing to comply with the federal mask requirement,” American Airlines said in a statement on Thursday. “The flight landed safely at MIA where local law enforcement met the aircraft. We thank our crew for their professionalism and apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.”

Under the U.S. federal mask mandate, passengers and crew members are required to wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose, the Herald reported.

According to data compiled by the Federal Aviation Administration, there have been 32 investigations out of the 151 unruly passenger reports it has received so far in 2022. Ninety-two of those situations are mask-related as of Tuesday, the FAA said.

In 2021, the agency investigated 1,075 unruly passenger incidents, according to the Herald.

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