Woman Who Refused to Comply With Airline Mask Rules Arrested After Landing at Washington, D.C. Airport

American Airlines plane

Police in Washington, D.C. arrested a woman traveling from Charlotte, N.C., on Sunday after she took off her face mask mid-flight to yell at her fellow passengers about "tyranny."

"What I woke up to was her screaming about how this was tyranny, and we have to stand up for this," passenger Jonathan Asfour told WCNC Charlotte. 

In one video, the unmasked passenger is heard screaming, "If we don't stand up, it's only going to get worse." 

The issues started when passengers asked the woman to pull her mask over her nose, something she refused to do. Flight attendants stepped in to help, but ultimately, a federal air marshal who was on board American Airlines flight 2198 had to get involved. 

While federal law doesn't require U.S. airline passengers to wear masks, airlines including American Airlines began mandating face coverings in May, though some customers continue to fight the rules even when on board.

"He calmed her down," Asfour told WCNC. "He was the only person able to do that. The stewardess and flight attendants couldn't do anything."

Another passenger told a local Fox affiliate that the woman claimed to have received the COVID-19 vaccine, to have already had the virus, and to have difficulty breathing while wearing a mask. 

Multiple passengers posted videos of the altercation to social platforms, including one of the plane cheering as the woman was arrested. The woman was properly wearing her mask when local police removed her from the plane.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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