A disgruntled passenger was kicked off a Spirit Airlines flight heading to Florida from New York City for refusing to wear a face mask, authorities said.
On Friday, a tense standoff between an unidentified man and a Port Authority police officer resulted in an arrest at LaGuardia Airport in Queens.
Flight attendants alleged that the man was being disruptive and authorities were called to intervene.
Footage shows the man already seated on his flight to Fort Lauderdale while he argues with a police officer over face coverings.
Face masks on flights have become commonplace in America as the coronavirus pandemic continues with significant spikes in the southern US.
‘The whole plane is a witness. I didn’t do anything!’ the man says to the Port Authority officer. ‘Tell me why I’m not flying.’
An unidentified man (left) on a Spirit Airlines flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was kicked off his flight on Friday for not wearing a face mask
Although much of the officer’s speech is muffled by his face mask, he can be heard telling the man that he’s being asked to put a mask on.
The man is accused of getting ‘in someone’s face a little bit,’ but he vehemently denies it.
‘Did I get in anybody’s face? I didn’t get in nobody’s face,’ the man says. ‘I’ve been sitting here waiting for you to come.’
As the two men continue to argue, the man reveals that he’s traveling to see his father who had a stroke.
The man (left) argued with a Port Authority police officer (right) that he was traveling to see his sick father in Florida and should remain on the flight
‘I’m asking you, what would you like me to do?’ the officer asks.
‘I’d like to stay on the flight,’ the man replies.
The officer tells the man ‘I can’t force them to let you stay on the flight’ and continues to ask that the man either mask up or be removed.
Meanwhile, several passengers watching the exchange intervene on the man’s behalf and demand he stay on the flight.
‘Let this man fly. Why can’t he go home?’ one passenger says.
The video ends with the man refusing to leave the flight, but additional footage appears to show the man being arrested by Port Authority officers.
Cell phone footage appeared to show the man (center) being arrested by Port Authority officers after being removed from the flight
Spirit Airlines released a statement after the incident was shared to social media and began attracting attention.
‘Spirit Airlines asked police to intervene after a man boarded flight NK197 from LaGuardia to Fort Lauderdale, took off his face covering and refused to put it back on,’ the statement read.
‘Ultimately, the man chose to deplane on his own instead of risking legal consequences.
‘Spirit will always err on the side of caution when it comes to the health and safety of our Guests. Wearing a face covering is simple, it’s easy, and it’s critical to Spirit and the airline industry as a whole.’
Spirit Airlines, and several other airlines, now require air travel passengers to wear face masks or coverings during flights
Spirit Airlines, like other major airlines, updated their safety requirements for air travel passengers in May due to a virus that has nearly shuttered the industry.
‘All guests will be required to wear appropriate masks or face coverings over the nose and mouth to better align with the CDC recommendations about cloth face coverings in public settings,’ the company said in a press release.
Spirit Airlines also implemented high-level fogging treatments to deep clean planes and high-efficiency particulate air filters.
The emphasis on clean aircrafts came as several surges in coronavirus cases hit several states the South, including Florida.
In June, infections in Florida rose by 168 percent or more than 95,000 new cases. The percent of tests coming back positive has skyrocketed to 15 percent from four percent at the end of May.
This means that Florida, home to 21 million people, has reported more new daily coronavirus cases than any European country had at the height of their outbreaks.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo named Florida among 16 states where residents will be asked to self quarantine if they travel to the Big Apple.
The quarantine applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.
‘As an increasing number of states around the country fight significant community spread, New York is taking action to maintain the precarious safety of its phased, data-driven reopening,’ Cuomo said in a statement.
In an attempt to keep a count of who is traveling to New York from those states, the state’s Department of Health is asking airlines to distribute a questionnaire to passengers once they board their flights.