SEATTLE — Fourteen people who were on board a flight from Dulles International Airport to Sea-Tac Airport Thursday night were banned from flying Alaska Airlines after refusing to wear masks and arguing and harassing crew members.
The "non-mask compliant" and "rowdy" group were on Flight 1085 from Dulles International, located in Chantilly, Virginia in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.
Before the plane arrived, the airline asked for Sea-Tac Airport police to be standing by at the gate if needed. The airport made several officers available, but they were not needed and no arrests were made.
"Their behavior was unacceptable," a statement from Alaska Airlines said. "We apologize to our other guests who were made uncomfortable on the flight."
So far, Alaska Airlines has banned 302 passengers for violating its mask policy, including the group on the Dulles flight this week.
Banning non-mask wearing passengers is becoming standard procedure for some airlines. Delta Air Lines is a much larger carrier and has banned hundreds more.
Currently, it is up to airlines to determine their own policy for masks on planes.
President-Elect Joe Biden said he will require masks for all interstate travel regulated by the federal government once inaugurated on Jan. 20. That would also include Amtrak trains and interstate buses.
Alaska’s practice is to issue people who repeatedly don’t comply with the airline’s mask orders a yellow card on board. That card is a final notice that if the passenger doesn’t comply, they will not be boarded onto an Alaska connecting flight and or their return flight will be cancelled, leaving them to make alternative travel arrangements. Alaska said they will refund the balance of the fare.
So, what's the risk?
Three of the world's largest airline builders including Boeing, Airbus and Embraer of Brazil, which makes a lot of smaller airliners flown by Alaska, Delta and others, found while HEPA filters and the advanced ventilation system in planes that exchanges cabin air every few minutes is effective, it still requires masking up to get the most protection from the coronavirus.