Delta Flight Returns to Gate, Removes Passenger Refusing to Wear Mask

A passenger who refused to wear a mask forced a Delta flight bound for Los Angeles to return back Saturday evening to its point of takeoff at Metro Airport in Detroit, according to Deadline Detroit.

The airline confirmed the incident to the outlet early Sunday.

"The customer was removed from the plane and the flight departed without incident," said spokeswoman Kristin Seay. "Delta requires masks on every flight for the safety of our customers and crew."

No further details were offered about the identity of the passenger and why they refused to wear the mask, or what happened to them after they were removed from the flight.

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Newsweek reached out to Delta's media relations department for additional comment. A spokesperson said in an emailed statement Sunday morning: "Flight 201 from DTW to LAX returned to the gate when a customer did not comply with Delta's mask-wearing requirement onboard. After a short delay, the aircraft departed to Los Angeles."

Reportedly, one of the passengers on the flight included the mother of Alexis Wiley, the chief of staff for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

"My mom's @Delta flight from Detroit to LA just turned around and went back to the gate because a passenger refused to wear a mask. Flight attendants announced masks are non negotiable! Thank you @Delta for putting passenger safety first! @LASpeech," Wiley wrote on Twitter Saturday.

According to Delta's website, passengers and the airline's employees are mandated to wear a face covering "on board the aircraft for the duration of the flight – except limited time while eating or drinking."

It further adds: "Customers with unique mask requirements should bring the appropriate face covering that best meets their needs. Customers with underlying conditions that explicitly prevent the wearing of a face covering or mask are strongly encouraged to reconsider travel or should be prepared to complete a 'Clearance-to-Fly' process prior to departure at the airport. If you require this exemption, please arrive early to complete the process during check-in and avoid missing your flight – this process can take over one hour. Please arrive early to allow additional time."

Delta also says that face coverings are required at the airline's lobby check-in, Delta Sky Clubs, boarding gate areas, and jet bridges.

What happened on the Delta flight is the latest in a number of incidents involving passengers who refused to don a mask while traveling on a plane. An incident in July involving another Delta flight resulted in that plane returning to the gate after two passengers did not want to wear face coverings. That came a day after Delta CEO Ed Bastian said that passengers who don't comply with the mask mandate will not be able to travel on the company's planes going forward. "You cannot board a Delta plane unless you have a mask on. If you board the plane and you insist on not wearing your mask, we will insist that you don't fly Delta into the future," Bastian told the Today show.

In August, a mother and her six children were removed from a JetBlue flight after the mother's two-year-old daughter did not want to wear a face covering. The airline said in a statement that anyone over the age of two is required to wear a mask to be able to travel on its plane.

On Wednesday, an American Airlines flight from Chicago to Los Angeles experienced trouble when a woman refused to wear a mask, which prompted her to be chastised by her fellow passengers. Eventually, the woman was taken off the plane, according to Fox 10.

An American Airlines spokesperson said of the incident in a statement: "Prior to departure, the customer was asked to exit the aircraft if they would not comply with the face covering requirement, per company policy. The customer became disruptive and was met by law enforcement upon exiting the aircraft. The flight departed for LAX thereafter."

In addition to Delta, American Airlines and JetBlue, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines have instituted their own mask polices.

Updated 10:35 AM ET: with an addtional statement from Delta.

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Delta Airline Aircraft Ascending into Blue Sky - stock photo Jennifer May/iStock/Getty Images/Getty
Delta Flight Returns to Gate, Removes Passenger Refusing to Wear Mask | U.S.