Fight breaks out after airline passenger refuses to wear face mask

PROVO, Utah (KSL) - An argument over a face mask turned into a full-blown fight on board a plane in Arizona. One man was escorted off the flight and cited with disorderly conduct.

When Rylie Lansford boarded an Allegiant airplane Saturday in Arizona, she expected a pretty typical flight to Utah. What she didn’t expect was a fight over masks.

“It’s absolutely insane to me because it’s all about a mask, and it didn’t need to get that way,” Lansford said. “I was right next to them. I didn’t want to get in the middle of that.”

The fight broke out after a passenger sitting in the row behind Lansford argued with the flight attendant over wearing a face mask. He was wearing a face shield, but according to Allegiant’s policy, “face shields may be worn in addition to a face covering but not as an alternative.”

“They made it clear. Yes, 100%,” Lansford said.

Lansford says another passenger sitting next to her turned around and began heckling the man.

“At first, I thought it was banter between friends because it was kind of weird, but then, you quickly learned that the words that they were saying to each other were not friendly,” she said.

Eventually, the flight attendant attempted to escort the passenger who wouldn’t wear a mask off the plane, but the other man continued to egg him on.

“Then, I just hear and see one swing of an arm, and I just bolt to the front of the plane with the flight attendants,” Lansford said. “At first, he’s kind of choking - or has a hold of the guy’s neck, and then, you see him pulling his hair and hitting him in the back.”

The fight was broken up after about 30 seconds. The passenger who refused to wear a mask was escorted off the plane, while the other man involved in the incident was allowed to stay.

Lansford hopes her next flight won’t be quite as eventful.

“If you’re buying a plane ticket, you must follow the rules, or you gotta drive somewhere,” she said.

Police cited the man who refused to wear a mask for disorderly conduct, according to the Associated Press.

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