San Diego

Couple Kicked off San Diego-Bound JetBlue Over Face-Mask Dispute

JetBlue said the passengers were asked "multiple times but would not comply with the federal mask mandate"

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An irate man and his wife who did not adhere to wearing face masks properly were kicked off a flight from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego after yelling at flight attendants before takeoff, JetBlue said.

In a video widely circulated on social media, a man was captured yelling at a flight attendant in the middle of the aircraft’s aisle as he was asked to exit the plane for not wearing a face mask. According to the airline, the couple was asked “multiple times but would not comply with the federal mask mandate.”

As the video progressed, the man can be heard claiming he was given one warning.

“I'm a vaccinated person,” he said in the video. “I respect all your rules. Every single one of them, I respect your rules. OK? You gave me one f---ing warning."

JetBlue said the man “became verbally and physically aggressive toward crewmembers before eventually exiting the aircraft.” He was seen in the video demanding the flight attendant to turn around to “face everybody” as he walked toward the employee while pointing his finger.

Another flight attendant then pulled the man back from behind and guided him to the exit, causing passengers to cheer. According to the airline, the couple has been banned from using their services in the future. Their names were not released.

“For reference, crewmembers are trained to speak to customers who are not following policies,” JetBlue said in a statement. “If a customer refuses to wear a face mask after being asked, crewmembers will work to de-escalate the situation to the best of their ability to gain compliance prior to removal. The safety of each customer and crewmember is our first priority, and we must work together to follow the federal mask mandate during the travel journey.”

Face masks are still required during travel within or to and from the United States, according to current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. They are also required while inside airports themselves or at other transportation stations.

The Federal Airline Administration announced in January stiffer penalties for those who threaten, intimidate or interfere with crewmembers due to an increase in unruly behavior this year.

"I signed an order directing FAA safety inspectors and attornies to pursue legal enforcement action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates or interferes with airline crew members," FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a video PSA message in January. "We will not address these cases through warnings or counseling."

The FAA can impose criminal fines, and in some cases jail passengers who cause disturbances on flights or do not follow crew instructions, which is a violation of FAA rules, the agency said.

It's unclear what, if any, punishment the passenger will face.

A man became irate while on a plane headed to San Diego and yelled expletives at the airline crew after he and his wife were asked to wear their face masks correctly.

'I Couldn’t Believe My Ears': Couple Aboard the Flight Recall the Incident

NBC 7 spoke with Phil and Sandi Cohen, a couple who were aboard the flight and shaken up by what happened. They say they hope the troubling trend of people being unruly on fights comes to an end soon.

"I couldn’t believe my ears – we thought we were in a movie – I was scared to death," Phil Cohen said. "The reason I pulled my camera out – my phone – is I just couldn’t believe anything like this – I’ve seen it on tv and here we are experiencing it."

Hi wife, Sandi, says the JetBlue cabin crew handled the situation well.

"I thank you for all you did and all the time I’m yelling close the door the voices you hear are her and me and I said start the plane and we got up and we clapped when the plane started moving – I thought we’d never get out of there."

According to TSA there have been over 4,000 face mask related incidents reported to the agency since February.

The Biden Administration announced Thursday that effective Sept. 10, fines will be increased to 500 to one-thousand dollars for first time offenders and from one- thousand to three thousand dollars for second time offenders.

Earlier this year the Biden Administration extended the federal mask mandate on commercial flights until Jan. 18.

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