Plane's Ventilation System, Not Students, Are to Blame for Bahamas Flight Delay: Organizer

An American Airlines flight heading to the Bahamas was delayed almost 24 hours on Monday, and the airline made it clear at the time that a large group of "unruly" high school graduates was to blame.

However, Breakaway Beach, the tour company that organized the students' trip, said in a recent report American Airlines wrongfully punished the group of teens for what appears now to have been just one student's behavior and a mechanical issue,

On Monday, American Airlines Flight 893 to the Bahamas was drastically delayed due to what the airline initially said was a group of about 47 graduates. According to The Boston Globe, American Airlines said that the group refused to comply with federal face mask requirements, left their assigned seats, played loud music, shouted foul language, and repeatedly ignored the requests of the flight crew.

The group's removal from the flight, the statement said, was the cause of multiple additional delays, as the airline had to remove their bags from the plane and bring in a new flight crew as personnel reached the end of their shifts.

According to Eugene Winer, president of Breakaway Beach, the plane actually had a mechanical issue, in which its ventilation system was not working. Winer wrote in a statement to the Globe, "During this time some passengers, including the students, may have removed masks due to the no air-conditioning/ventilation, quite unbearable conditions."

The airline told Newsweek in an earlier report that the group of more than 30 Boston-area high schoolers was reminded of the policy multiple times by crew members on the plane.

However, according to Winer, the complaint that the entire group was ignorantly ignoring mask mandates was not true.

"One passenger was officially escorted off of the aircraft but was not ticketed or charged with an offense," he said to the Globe.

"The actions of this passenger resulted in the entire group of graduates being labeled 'unruly' and 'disruptive.' Breakaway was told [by American Airlines] that the actions of one individual were the responsibility of the entire group," Winer added.

Winer wrote American Airlines had initially refused to let the students continue the flight, which was further delayed because a pilot was not immediately available to replace one who had attained the maximum hours he could fly.

The airline allowed the students to get back on the plane, but the flight could not leave until Tuesday morning when another pilot would be made available, Winer wrote.

Winer and the parents of the 47 students were equally disappointed in the way the airline handled the situation. "The act of one individual is not the responsibility of others, and the students that were abiding by the rules should not have had to endure this type of treatment," Winer said.

One parent, who said she was FaceTiming her daughter during the debacle, told the Globe, "American [Airlines] is using our kids as scapegoats. For all I know, that second plane also had a mechanical issue...There's something more to this, and our kids are just easy targets."

American Airlines told Newsweek in a statement: "Prior to departure on July 5, multiple members of a group traveling on American Airlines Flight 893 from Charlotte (CLT) to Nassau, Bahamas (NAS) were reported to be noncompliant with federal mask requirements, became disruptive to other customers and refused to follow crew member instructions while on board."

"As a result of issues associated with members of the group, the flight incurred multiple delays before departing for NAS on Tuesday, July 6."

They added, "We expect our customers to comply with our policies when they choose to fly with us, and we take action when that is not the case. We thank our team members for their professionalism and apologize to our customers for the inconvenience."

The Airfield At Miami International Airport
An American Airlines flight to the Bahamas was delayed nearly 24 hours, and the airline initially put the blame on a group of "unruly" high school students, but a recent report exposed mechanical issues instead. Pictured, an American Airlines plane lands at the Miami International Airport on June 16, 2021 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Updated on July 8, 2021, at 5:25 p.m. ET, to include a statement American Airlines issued to Newsweek.