Oct 05, 2020
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A fight broke out between two passengers on an Allegiant Air flight from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Arizona on Oct. 3 after one passenger confronted another for allegedly refusing the flight attendant's request to wear a face mask in addition to a face shield.
A spokesperson for Allegiant Air confirmed that an altercation happened on Flight 607 to Provo, Utah, after a passenger refused to comply with airline policy.
Rylie Lansford, a passenger on the plane who told The Arizona Republic that she was sitting in the row in front of the man who refused to put on a mask, posted a video of the incident on her Instagram account @bakedbyrylie.
Lansford said she was running late for the flight. When she reached her seat, she said, the flight attendant asked the passenger in the row behind her to put on a mask that would cover his nose and mouth.
"He has a face shield on so he doesn't think he needs to wear an additional mask," Lansford said in a phone interview. She said the flight attendant indicated that the man had been on a flight the day before and had argued with her over wearing a mask on that flight as well.
Allegiant's face-covering policy requires that masks are "of a solid material, fully cover the mouth and nose, fit snugly against the face, and be secured under the chin." The airline hands out masks to passengers boarding the flight.
How the mask fight started
Lansford said after the flight attendant confronted the passenger, the man sitting in the window seat in her row yelled, "It's called COVID." She described him as being distressed as he said he was heading to visit his mother at hospice. The two men kept exchanging heated words, she said.
"You could just feel that something physical was going to start happening," Lansford said.
She said when flight attendants tried to escort the man who refused to wear the mask off the plane, the two men started fighting. Lansford jumped out of her seat and filmed the incident. She said police took the man who refused to wear a mask off the plane. The other man remained on board but was moved to another seat.
In an emailed statement, the airline confirmed the incident.
"While the passenger was being escorted off the plane, he had an altercation with another passenger. Law enforcement was called to assist," the statement said.
Allegiant and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport referred all other questions to the Mesa Police Department.
The airline's safety team is reviewing the incident and will make a decision whether the passenger will be allowed on future Allegiant flights.
What is Allegiant's mask policy?
Like other airlines trying to regain customer trust in the COVID-19 pandemic, Allegiant requires all passengers to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth.
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"Face coverings are required throughout travel, including at the ticket counter and in the gate area, as well as during flight," the airline said in a statement.
The airline does not allow coverings "with exhalation valves, holes (such as lace or mesh), neck gaiters and bandanas. Face shields may be worn in addition to a face covering, but not as an alternative."
This story will be updated.
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You can connect with Arizona Republic Consumer Travel Reporter Melissa Yeager through email at email@example.com. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram.