CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dozens of passengers experienced a nightmare at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Monday, telling Glenn Counts, a reporter at Boston 25 News’ sister station in Charlotte, WSOC, that first mechanical problems and then a group of people refusing to wear masks left them stranded in the Queen City.
This weekend was projected to be one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, and the airport expected to see almost as many travelers as it did pre-pandemic.
Passengers on American Airlines Flight 893 to Nassau, Bahamas were in a position to depart Monday when a group of high school students decided to stage a mask rebellion that lasted for hours.
“Some people’s vacations are ruined. They were only going for a couple of nights. Now, they have to get rebooked,” passenger Stephanie Krzywanski said.
The flight was supposed to depart at 9:30 a.m, but a mechanical issue meant passengers had to switch planes. But then a group of students from a Boston-area high school decided to act up.
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“It was bad. First, they were yelling. They were cursing. They were being very obnoxious,” passenger Malik Banks said.
Banks was seated next to the group of more than 30 students.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still requires masks on all flights because of COVID-19.
“It wasn’t all of them. I would say 75% to 80% of them were being terrible kids, saying smart stuff,” Banks said.
“All they had to do was follow the rules, put the mask on, sit there. No smart-mouth comments. And they couldn’t do it,” passenger Christina Randolph said.
The result was the flight got canceled, which means Randolph gets one less day of vacation.
“Well, I’m a nurse, and it’s really, really hard to get time off work. So when you finally get time off, you really want to be somewhere you want to be,” she said.
“Everyone has to follow the rules. Nobody likes it. Nobody wants to sit around and do this, but you’ve got to follow the rules,” Krzywanski said.
Police sources said that no one was arrested. American Airlines acknowledged the incident, saying the flight from Charlotte Douglas was delayed until Tuesday. Passengers who were stranded were given a hotel voucher. However, because the students are either 17 or 18 years old, they are too young to get a room, so they had to spend the night at the airport.
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