NC in top 3 for ‘air rage’ incidents, officials say; most issues linked to face masks on planes


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — We all know that when you fly you can’t smoke or use your cellphone and you have to wear a seatbelt. We also know that these days you have to wear a face mask.

So why do incidents of passengers refusing to wear masks keep happening when they already know what they signed up for?

“We’re going to ask probing questions to find out is there’s something we can do to rectify it before we need to take a further step like removing you from the aircraft. There is no arguing with it. We just follow the manual, use our best judgment and involve the entire crew,” said aviation correspondent and Charlotte-based flight crew member Hawker Vanguard.

Association of Flight Attendants International President Sara Nelson testified before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation in a hearing called “Disruption in the Skies: The Surge in Air Rage and its Effects on Workers, Airlines, and Airports.”

She listed three states as the top offenders including North Carolina.

“We have had a lot of incidents out of Charlotte, we have had a lot of incidents out of the Florida airports and out of Texas. And I’m not saying there haven’t been other incidents out of other places overall but there seems to be a higher concentration,” Nelson testified.

So far there have been 4,385 reports of incidents involving unruly passengers. That’s twice are twice as high as last year.

The FAA says 3,199 of the reports are mask-related. Flights crews have been injured and verbally harassed as North Carolina-based flight attendant Teddy Andrews also testified.

“He said ‘N word, I don’t have to listen to a damn thing you say this is a free country’,” Andrews said.

Vanguard said there is a reason that type of behavior can get you thrown off a flight.

“That’s an indication to the flight crew that they aren’t going to be able to follow any instructions when we’re in the air. So, obviously, there’s no getting someone off the plane once we’re at 36,000 feet. That type of situation at such a confined space can become dangerous and just plain annoying for passengers around them.”

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