A Delta Air Lines flight from Miami (MIA) to Atlanta (ATL) was delayed by over four hours on Monday night after a passenger first refused to wear a face mask and then apparently struck a flight attendant across the face when they were asked to deplane. Delta flight DL1997 eventually landed in Atlanta at 1.30 am on Tuesday after the Miami Dade Police Department removed the disruptive passenger before departure.
Video taken before the Boeing 767 left the gate by Instagram user @kingcoreythefirst and posted on Twitter by BBC World Service journalist Suzanne Kianpour (@KianpourWorld) apparently shows two passengers getting into a verbal altercation with one Delta flight attendant onboard the flight.
Other passengers express alarm when one of the alleged perpetrators gets up close to the flight attendant despite not wearing a face mask. “Oh, oh, she’s in her face,” one passenger is overheard saying. “Oh lord, oh lord,” the passenger continues before she and others shout “No” in unison as the suspect lashes out at the flight attendant.
BBC journalist Kianpour, who is currently on the campaign trail following the upcoming Presidential election, explained the situation on Twitter:
The disruptive passengers were eventually removed by the Miami Dade Police Department, although there’s no word yet on whether the suspects were arrested.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Delta told us: “There is nothing more important than the safety of our people and customers. That’s why two customers who did not comply with crew safety instructions were asked to deplane Flight 1997 this evening.”
“We do not tolerate violence of any kind and this situation is currently under investigation. We apologize to customers for the flight delay this caused.”
Delta has now banned 450 passengers for refusing to wear a face mask onboard its flights. Anyone facing a ban won’t be allowed to board a Delta flight until the requirement to wear a face mask is lifted at the earliest.
Passengers claiming a medical exemption must first undergo a video consultation with a Delta approved physician and details of the exemption are then passed to flight attendants. Some airlines, like American and Southwest, have gone even further and don’t allow anyone to board a flight if they can’t wear a face mask.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.