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Delta flight from Detroit to Los Angeles delayed after passenger refuses to wear mask

  • September 15, 2020

A Detroit flight to Los Angeles returned to the gate Saturday night after a passenger refused to comply with Delta Air Lines’ face mask requirement, according to the airline.

“We apologize to customers on Flight 201 from DTW to LAX that returned to the gate when a customer did not comply with Delta’s mask-wearing requirement onboard,” a Delta spokesperson said in a statement to the Detroit Free Press Sunday. “After a short delay, the flight departed to Los Angeles.” The Detroit Free Press is a part of the USA TODAY Network.

The flight, scheduled to depart at 8:15 p.m., departed at 8:56 p.m. with 84 customers aboard the Airbus A321, which has the capacity to seat 220 passengers. Delta  instituted coronavirus-related policies through Jan. 6, including reversing its boarding process – passengers in the rear board first – blocking middle seats and requiring face masks.

Despite the delay, the flight arrived at Los Angeles International Airport only 28 minutes behind schedule at 10:31 p.m.

The incident was tweeted about by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s Chief of Staff Alexis Wiley, whose mother,  Pamela, was aboard the plane.

Pamela Wiley. who lives in the Los Angeles area,  said she was seated in first class and could hear the flight attendants trying to rectify the situation, attempting to persuade the passenger to comply. The plane taxied but stopped on the runway as attendants tried to figure out how to handle the noncompliant passenger.

“They really tried to work with her, it was very well done,” Wiley said. An attendant made an announcement over the speaker to reemphasize the mask requirement, no exceptions. “I was really pleased that they cared enough about the rest of us, and their own health and safety, because they know that this is the rule and there is no exception.”

The plane turned around and returned to the gate, and the passenger was escorted off, which is shown in the video.

“Far too often, you see people getting into their own personal battles, and that’s fine if you’re the only one impacted, but we’re all on this plane,” Wiley said. “So you got on with a mask, you understand the conditions and to now decide once you’re seated that you’re not going to wear your mask is not acceptable.”

The passenger is believed to have been wearing a mask through the airport, according to a spokesperson from the Wayne County Airport Authority.

Such instances are handled by Delta Air Lines on a case-by-case basis, a spokesperson said, and the outcome of Saturday’s incident could not be disclosed for privacy reasons.

This is not the first Delta flight delayed in Detroit because passengers refused to wear face masks. A flight to Atlanta was delayed in July after two customers refused.

Contact Miriam Marini: mmarini@gannett.com

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