Video Captures Passenger Brawl on Plane Over Mask Dispute

A fight recently broke out on a flight to Provo, Utah, after a passenger refused to wear a protective face mask.

Instagram user Rylie Lansford shared a video of the incident on her page as well as an explainer as to what happened prior to the fight breaking out.

According to Lansford, the fight broke on an Allegiant Airlines flight heading from Mesa, Arizona, to Provo on Saturday. In her explainer video, Lansford states that a man sitting behind her was wearing a protective face shield but was asked by a flight attendant to wear a mask that covered his mouth and nose.

The Allegiant Airlines mask policy amid the coronavirus pandemic requires all passengers to wear face coverings, made of solid material, that fully cover the mouth and nose and are secured under the chin. The masks must be worn at all times.

An argument between the man and the flight attendant broke out, according to Lansford's video, and shortly after, another man sitting in the row ahead began to chime in, telling the passenger to just put a mask on.

According to Lansford's video, the man refusing to wear the mask continued to argue with the flight attendants and told them he would take it up with their airline, which Lansford said she thought would be the end of the argument, but the situation continued to escalate when the man in front didn't stop yelling and cursing at the man behind him.

"They just kept arguing with each other, 'This guy needs to get off the plane,' and then, 'This guy needs to get off the plane,'" Lansford said as she mimicked the two men arguing.

Coronavirus in U.S.
Passengers, almost all wearing facemasks, board an American Airlines flight to Charlotte, on May 3, 2020, in New York City. The wearing of masks to protect against the coronavirus has become such a sensitive issue in the United States that airlines are struggling to impose the practice on defiant travelers in the enclosed environment of an airplane. Eleonore Sens/Getty

The flight attendants attempted to take control of the situation and told the man refusing to wear a mask that security was called to escort him off the flight.

"So finally he gets up, and all hell breaks loose," Lansford says in the video, adding that she believes the man refusing to wear the mask threw the first punch at the man in front of him. According to Lansford, she got up and ran to the front of the plane as soon as she saw the fight break out, which is when she began to film the video of the fight.
In her explainer video, Lansford stated that after the fight subsided, the man who refused to wear a mask was removed from the plane, while the other man was allowed to stay on.

"It was absolutely insane to me because it's all about a mask, and it didn't need to get that way," Lansford told KSL TV News in Utah.

In an email sent to Newsweek, a spokesperson for Allegiant Airlines wrote, "On Saturday, Oct. 3, a passenger was removed from flight 607 with service from Mesa, Ariz. to Provo, Utah, for refusing to comply with our mask policy."

"While the passenger was being escorted off the plane, he had an altercation with another passenger. Law enforcement was called to assist," the email said. "Allegiant requires all customers to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth at all times when traveling to help protect them and those around them. Face coverings are required throughout travel, including at the ticket counter and in the gate area, as well as during flight."

The Mesa Police Department in Arizona told Newsweek via email that on October 3, at 3:11 p.m. local time, "Mesa Police Officers responded to a disturbance on Allegiant Air flight #607. A 52-year-old male named Rio James Honaker became confrontational with a flight attendant when asked multiple times to put a mask on."

"When a passenger/victim, sitting directly in front of Rio, asked Rio to comply so they could leave, Rio told the victim "Mind you own f...... business." An airline supervisor arrived and asked Rio to exit the plane. Rio grabbed his backpack, got up, and as he exited his row, he struck the victim in the head while saying he was the reason Rio was asked to leave. A physical fight ensued between Rio and the victim," the statement sent to Newsweek said. "An off-duty Police Officer intervened by grabbing Rio and telling the victim to take his seat. The off-duty Officer escorted Rio off the plane."

According to police, Honaker was cited for one count of disorderly conduct, a class 1 misdemeanor.

Newsweek reached out to Lansford for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Updated October 6, 2020, 12:15 p.m. ET, to include a statement from the Mesa Police Department.