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2 Spirit passengers on flight from O'Hare accused of not wearing masks asked to leave plane

ABC 7 Chicago logo ABC 7 Chicago 11/23/2020 WLS
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Most airlines require passengers to wear face coverings while boarding and during the flight, but what happens when some isn't willing to follow the rules?

Passengers on a recent Spirit Airlines flight say they had to deal with not one, but two people who wouldn't keep their masks on.

It was turbulence of a different kind on a Spirit Airlines flight last week.

Passengers said two women onboard the flight refused to wear face coverings after being repeatedly asked to do so by Spirit crew members. Even passengers were urging them to comply.

Christie Gill and her daughter, Kyndall, said they saw it all. Christie said they were traveling to Las Vegas to check on her elderly parents and she couldn't believe what they were witnessing.

"We heard commotion," Gill said. "They were arguing and the flight attendant kept saying you have to put your mask on and things kind of got escalated"

They said police were called onboard and the women eventually put their masks on and got off the plane.

"It's just really disappointing that other people don't want to be safe and keep other people safe," Gill said.

Spirit Airlines told the I-Team, "This kind of behavior is unfair to everyone else on board, and it's unacceptable. Spirit has a strict face covering policy for the safety of our guests and team members...unfortunately, that means we all have to deal with people from time to time who don't want to follow the rules."

While the FAA has not issued a mask mandate on planes, most major airlines require face coverings for everyone onboard.

So what can you do if you're seated near someone who refuses to wear a mask?

-Inform a flight attendant or crew member

-If a passenger doesn't comply, the airline may ask that person to leave or add them to a travel restriction list

-If your flight has already taken off, you should request a seat change if the aircraft isn't full

Gill said spirit handled the situation as best they could, and wishes everyone would just follow the rules.

"We're already nervous about being on the plane, so to see that someone didn't want to follow protocol to stay safe, it was disheartening," Gill said.

Spirit said their team gave those passengers the opportunity to comply, asked them to leave the aircraft and when they refused to leave. They did have to call the police.

Spirit said when someone refuses to wear a face covering, they risk being banned from future Spirit flights.

Full statement from Spirit Airlines:

"Spirit Airlines flight 245 from O'Hare to Las Vegas was delayed 20 minutes on November 15 due to two passengers who refused to wear their face coverings. Our Team Members gave them the opportunity to comply, asked them to leave the aircraft when they refused and called the police when they disregarded this request and remained on board. The passengers left on their own once police arrived. This kind of behavior is unfair to everyone else on board, and it's unacceptable.

"Spirit has a strict face covering policy for the safety our Guests and Team Members. U.S. airlines have banded together to ensure passengers know we take face covering policies seriously. Unfortunately, that means we all have to deal with people from time to time who don't want to follow the rules. If a passenger refuses to comply with the policy or is verbally abusive toward our crew regarding the policy, we don't allow them to fly with us and they risk being banned from future flights with Spirit. Our policy for face coverings is shared on our website, in advance emails, and it's also included in our health acknowledgement during the check-in process."

Airline mask policies:

Southwest AIrlines

Spirit Airlines

United Airlines

Delta Airlines

American Airlines

JetBlue

AlaskaAir

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