Despite concerns that we are headed into the worst months of the pandemic, many people now consider COVID-19 to be a thing of the past. Anti-maskers are coming out in full force, often finding themselves at odds with health-conscious citizens and companies. A recent video shows one such occurrence, as an anti-masker duo refused to follow safety requirements on a Delta flight. Things got heated when a flight attendant stepped in to enforce the airline’s rules, resulting in a fistfight.
The Delta flight, which traveled from Miami to Atlanta Monday night, was delayed by four hours thanks to the anti-maskers' antics. The Miami Dade Police were eventually forced to intervene, removing the passengers from the flight and allowing it to take off.
A video of the altercation between the anti-masker passengers and a Delta flight attendant began spreading online as the plane, and everyone on it, sat on the tarmac. Initially shot and posted by Instagram user @kingcoreythefirst, the video went viral after BBC World Service journalist Suzanne Kianpour shared it to Twitter. Kianpour was also on the flight.
"Here's what happened on our @Delta flight from #Miami to #Atlanta tonight after a passenger refused to wear a mask as per policy and then gets into altercation with flight attendant," Kianpour wrote.
The shared video shows a plane full of masked, seated passengers waiting for takeoff. In the background of the shot, a masked flight attendant can be seen arguing with a couple that appears to be unmasked. One of the anti-maskers—a woman by the looks of it—rises from her seat and gets in the flight attendant's face. Passengers in the background can be heard reacting to the incident.
"Oh, oh. She's in her face," an unknown passenger exclaims. "Oh Lord, oh Lord."
A moment later, the anti-masker takes a swing. She hits the Delta flight attendant directly in the face, eliciting cries of anger and distress from her fellow passengers. People immediately surge to assist the flight attendant, who does not appear to need anyone's help. She barely seems to notice the blow, but her calm demeanor vanishes. Her words are indistinct, but the flight attendant appears to give the couple a severe tongue-lashing.
Kianpour further explained the incident via Twitter.
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"I've always preferred Delta over United and American Air," she wrote. "Even though I have status with all 3 from so much work travel but tonight they handled an unruly passenger who refused to wear a mask with so much class and patience they [sic] they've forever [got] my loyalty."
Kianpour added that Delta deposited a "chunk of miles" into her account for the flight delay.
Miami Dade Police eventually removed the anti-maskers from the flight, but it is currently uncertain if the duo was arrested.
"There is nothing more important than the safety of our people and customers," a Delta spokesperson said in a statement to Paddle Your Own Kanoo. "That’s why two customers who did not comply with crew safety instructions were asked to deplane Flight 1997 this evening. We do not tolerate violence of any kind and this situation is currently under investigation. We apologize to customers for the flight delay this caused."
Since the start of the pandemic, Delta has banned 450 passengers over mask-wearing requirements.