A group of Black teenagers flying home from a basketball game were kicked off an Allegiant Airlines flight for not wearing masks. Problem is, both the teens and the people sitting next to them have said that they were wearing their masks.
According to CBS 13, the four teenagers, ages 16 to 17, were on a plane in Mesa, Ariz., that was bound for Sacramento on Monday. At one point, a flight attendant asked the boys to pull their face masks over their noses, and the boys told CBS 13 that they complied with that request. That didn’t stop the airline from calling the Mesa Police Department to have them escort the boys off the plane.
Allegiant Airlines released a statement regarding the situation that said “The party referenced aboard flight 208 on February 8 refused to comply with Federal regulations requiring face coverings throughout travel. After repeated and disruptive refusals to comply, the party was deplaned from the flight.”
“They said that we were disobeying when they first asked us even though all our teammates said ‘yes ma’am,’ and pulled it above our nose,” Brian Buchanan Jr., told CBS 13.
“To me, that’s crazy, because that’s not what happened, and we have witnesses that didn’t have a problem with us,” David Schuhmeier said in the same interview. Amy Flanagan, the passenger sitting next to the boys when the incident happened, told CBS 13 that they weren’t doing anything that could be construed as a “disruptive refusal to comply.”
“I did not hear anything disruptive, disrespectful,” Flanagan said. “They weren’t doing anything that made me think that warranted them getting kicked off. I think it was just really disturbing honestly.”
The part that’s really disturbing is that the airline didn’t even try to accommodate the boys by booking them on another flight, finding them a room, or even calling their parents. The boys called their parents as the incident happened, and Kiondra Phipps, the mother of one of the athletes, said that her son’s call was the only one she received.
“You’re telling me that because somebody’s mask slipped below their nose, that they have to be taken off the plane completely?” Phipps told CBS 13. “Sixteen and 17-year-olds? And you don’t tell their parents? You don’t care what happens to them? That doesn’t happen to people that aren’t brown.”
Sadly, she’s not wrong. If this were a group of white kids, well, a) they probably wouldn’t have been kicked off, b) the police probably wouldn’t have been called, and c) I’d imagine the airline would do all it could to make sure the kids were taken care of.
Some of the passengers gave the kids money to help them get a room, and eventually, their coach, who wasn’t on the plane, picked them up and found them a place to stay. They were able to get back home Tuesday morning on another airline.