American Airlines said a London-bound flight returned to Miami on Wednesday night because a passenger refused to comply with the federal mask requirement.
American Airlines flight AA38, a Boeing 777-300ER registered N724AN with 129 passengers and 14 crew onboard, turned back for Miami about an hour after departure.
The return was “due to a disruptive customer refusing to comply with the federal mask requirement,” American said in a statement. “The flight landed safely at MIA where local law enforcement met the plane. We thank our crew for their professionalism and we apologize to our customers for the inconvenience caused.”
The traveller was banned from flying with the airline pending an investigation, the carrier said.
Reports of unruly behaviour on planes hit a record 5,981 last year, more than 71% linked to disputes over a federal mask mandate that went into effect early last year, although the airlines have required them since the start of the pandemic.
Some incidents included physical assaults on crews. In October, an American Airlines flight attendant was hospitalised after a passenger allegedly punched her in the face, forcing the cross-country flight to divert and hospitalising the flight attendant.