American Airlines was forced to cancel a flight from North Carolina to the Bahamas after a group of 30 teenagers refused to wear face masks – and they were then forced to sleep in the airport overnight because they were too young to check into a hotel.
Flight 893 was scheduled to depart from Charlotte Douglas International Airport enroute to Nassau on Monday when passengers say the group of teens from Boston started being ‘very obnoxious’.
Fellow passengers say the group, aged 17 and 18, refused to wear their masks as required.
Forty-six teens in total had set out for the Bahamas to celebrate their recent graduation from Winthrop High School, WHDH reported.
The trip was not sanctioned by the school and the teens’ parents booked it through a private company, Breakaway Beach.
Flight 893 was scheduled to depart from Charlotte Douglas International Airport en route to Nassau on Monday when passengers say the group of teens from Boston refused to wear masks. Passenger Stephanie Krzywanski filmed this video from the plane and, at one point, a mask-less young man waved at the camera. It is not clear if he was among the group of teens
The teens were chaperoned by a staff member from Breakaway Beach, which states on its website: ‘Our mission is to provide phenomenal senior trips to graduating high school students of all backgrounds.’
Winthrop School District Superintendent Lisa Howard told DailyMail.com: ‘This was not a school sponsored trip and therefore have no additional comments at this time.’
Passenger Stephanie Krzywanski filmed herself on a call with News19 from the plane and, at one point, a mask-less young man waves at the camera.
It is not clear if he was among the group of teens.
‘There were a group of high school seniors celebrating their graduation who were being rowdy and not wearing their masks,’ she said.
‘What transpired was a lot of back and forth between, I assume, the parents.’
An airline spokesperson confirmed that group was ‘non-compliant’ with the federal mask mandate that requires passengers to wear a face covering on planes.
The teens then became disruptive to fellow passengers and would not follow instructions from crew members, according to the airline.
‘It was bad. Firstly they were yelling, they were cussing. They were being very obnoxious,’ Malik Banks, who was sitting next to the group, told WSOC-TV.
The airline said the flight rather faced an ‘extended delay’ and was rescheduled for Tuesday morning as a result of the teens refusing to wear their masks
Fellow passengers, Malik Banks (left) and Christina Randolph (right) say the group, aged 17 and 18, refused to wear their masks as required. The group were believed to be on their way to the Bahamas for a graduation trip
‘It wasn’t all of them… I’d say 75 to 80 percent of them were being terrible kids.’
He said they were forced to wait six hours before they were told what was happening with the flight.
Another passenger, Christina Randolph, said: ‘All they had to do was follow the rules, put the mask on, sit there, no smart mouth comments. They couldn’t do it.’
But the mother of one of the teens – Jean Holgerson – said the entire ordeal has been blown out of proportion.
‘It wasn’t this big standoff like everyone is portraying,’ Holgerson told WHDH. ‘A representative from Breakaway Beach was there. We have 46 children that are saying this differently. I have no idea why some would fabricate that.’
The mother said flight attendants initially asked one of the teens to get off the flight for not complying with the mask mandate.
‘As soon as they walked away, some woman walked to the bathroom without a mask,’ she said. ‘So now, the kids got a little bit upset how she can … and this that so at that point they might’ve gotten a little rowdy. No one swore, they were still respectful.’
The president of Breakaway Beach also criticized American Airlines’ handling of the incident and said the actions of one student should not have delayed the trip for all of them.
The airline said the flight faced an ‘extended delay’ and was rescheduled for Tuesday morning.
All passengers, including the ones who caused the initial disruption, were rebooked onto the new flight after they agreed to wear their face masks.
Those on the flight were given hotel and meal vouchers while they waited for the new flight.
The teens, however, were unable to check in to a hotel due to age requirements and had to sleep in the airport instead.
Prior to the mask incident unfolding, the aircraft had experienced technical difficulties, which meant all passengers had to change planes and were already delayed.