Spirit Airlines is defending its decision to de-board an entire flight after it says a family refused to wear masks, as videos of the incident spark backlash online

Spirit Airlines
  • Spirit Airlines said it removed a family of four from a flight because they refused to wear masks.
  • Video of the incident shows the masked parents being told to leave as their maskless child eats.
  • Spirit says what is not shown is the parents not complying with mask mandates moments earlier.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Spirit Airlines is defending its decision to remove a family from a flight over what it said were mask violations.

In a video posted online, a father, a pregnant mother, and their two children – one of whom the mother says has special needs – are seen being told to exit the plane. In the video, the mother and father are both wearing masks, though the father is seen removing his at some points to speak with the flight attendant. One of their children is sitting on the mother’s lap, not wearing a mask, and eating.

“I told you, noncompliance – you’ll have to get off. I didn’t want to do this,” a flight attendant, who appears to be a different person from the one who originally confronted the family, is heard saying in a video posted by Disclose.TV on Twitter.

Spirit told Insider the airline directed the family to exit because the parents were not complying with mask mandates, which the company said was not captured on video and came before the widely shared video was filmed.

According to multiple videos published by the Orthodox Jewish website The Yeshiva World, the family is seen exiting the plane and meeting with law enforcement at the terminal. All passengers on board the plane are seen exiting as well.

Spirit told Insider it was standard protocol in the airline industry to de-board the entire plane if there was an incident with a passenger. The company also said the couple initially refused to leave, adding that was why Spirit forced all the passengers off the plane. If the family had agreed to deplane, the rest of the passengers would have remained on board, Spirit said.

Another video shows a flight attendant walking away from the terminal after the plane was de-boarded, with the video taker saying: “Walk of shame. Cops are escorting him away.”

Federal law requires all passengers above the age of 2 to wear a mask when they’re not eating aboard a flight. President Joe Biden signed an executive order in January that required all air travelers to wear masks on planes, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also mandated face masks on multiple modes of transportation, including buses and subways.

The Transportation Security Administration followed suit in February when it began requiring travelers to wear masks at checkpoints.

On its website, Spirit Airlines says it enforces a mask policy in line with Biden’s executive order and other federal requirements. It requires all travelers to wear face coverings while on board the aircraft and says they may be removed only when passengers are eating, drinking, or taking medicine.

“Guests who choose not to comply with our face-covering requirement will lose future flight privileges with Spirit,” the website says. “Children under the age of 2 years old are exempt.”

Another video shows the family, as well as the rest of the flight’s passengers, reboarding the plane after the incident. The father is heard saying that he thinks the flight attendant who started the confrontation was removed from the plane, according to videos published by The Yeshiva World. Spirit denied that account and told Insider the crew was merely swapped out but did not clarify if that was standard protocol for scenarios such as this.

Spirit’s fellow budget airline Frontier drew similar attention in early March when it said it canceled a flight because a group of 21 Orthodox Jewish passengers refused to wear masks. One member of that group pushed back on that account and said staff initiated the debacle when his 15-month-old child was not wearing a mask while eating.

Workers in the airline, food, and retail industries have been tasked in the past year with enforcing mask mandates among customers, some of whom have been unwilling to comply. Mask-wearing has become largely politicized since March 2020, with some Republicans driving a narrative that the COVID-19 pandemic is less severe than it seems.

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Spirit is launching summer flights between LaGuardia Airport and Los Angeles, but a decades-old rule is limiting them to 1 day per week

Spirit Airlines Airbus A320neo flight
A Spirit Airlines Airbus A320neo.

  • LaGuardia Airport is getting new flights to Los Angeles; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Flights to Los Angeles and San Juan will only run on Saturdays thanks to a decades-old rule.
  • Any flight longer than 1,500 nautical miles from LaGuardia Airport can only fly on Saturdays, with one exception.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Transcontinental flying between New York and Los Angeles is going low-cost.

Spirit Airlines plans to launch flights between New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Los Angeles International Airport this summer from June 12 to September 4. Flight NK2151 departs New York at 7:20 a.m. and arrives in Los Angeles at 10:30 a.m. with the return flight, NK2152, departing at 1:30 p.m. and arriving back in New York at 10:05 p.m.

The timing makes it possible to jet off from LaGuardia, have a quick meeting in Los Angeles (or a bite to eat and plane spotting at the In-and-Out Burger next to Los Angeles International), and make it back to New York in the same day.

The catch, however, is that flights will only operate on Saturdays.

A 1984 rule from the airport’s operator, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, limits how far flights from LaGuardia can be at 1,500 nautical miles. Denver is the only exception and flights can be flown to the Colorado capital any day of the week.

Countless airlines have tried to make Saturday-only flights to far-off destinations work with varying degrees of success. United Airlines once flew non-stop between LaGuardia and Montrose, Colorado and Southwest offered flights to Phoenix. Both routes have not returned to the airport.

American Airlines, however, currently flies to Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Aruba in the Caribbean on a Saturday-only basis.

The Airbus A320neo, Spirit’s flagship aircraft, will serve the new transcontinental route and feature the airline’s latest seat products, as Insider found on a recent trip from Newark to Boston.

Read more: Spirit Airlines’ low-cost model puts it in the perfect spot to be the big winner of the pandemic, a Deutsche Bank analyst says

Spirit will also fly from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico on a Saturday-only basis starting on April 17, as well as daily to Nashville, Tennessee starting May 5. The ultra-low-cost carrier will be the only airline offering flights to San Juan and Los Angeles from LaGuardia, as of now.

LaGuardia will also see a terminal shakeup with Spirit flights for Fort Lauderdale moving to Terminal A, also known as the Marine Air Terminal, on April 28. Currently home to JetBlue Airways, LaGuardia’s smallest terminal is a holdover from the early days of New York City aviation and boasts short walking distances from the curb to any gate.

Flights to Los Angeles, San Juan, and Nashville, as well as Spirit’s existing destinations besides Fort Lauderdale, will still use Terminal C, home to Delta Air Lines.

None of Spirit’s flights will use the nearly-completed Terminal B which now features an entirely new Arrivals and Departures Hall and two new concourses.

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Flights are the cheapest they’ve ever been as airlines slash costs and try to coax back travelers

airport time
  • Airfare is lower than ever as carriers try to draw customers back in.
  • The average domestic ticket price is $245, the lowest on record.
  • Airlines are using available cheap planes and laid off flight crews to offer low prices.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Airlines are using cut-rate ticket prices to appeal to customers ready to travel again after a year of the pandemic.

The latest average domestic fair reported by the Department of Transportation is $244.79, the lowest on record according to DOT. That price is down 30% compared to last year at the same time, Bloomberg reported.

Carriers around the world cut $1 billion in daily expenses last year as demand for travel plummeted, Bloomberg reported. Those savings are giving the airlines the freedom to slash fares and entice customers back.

Experts are predicting a return to normal as early as summer 2021, and vaccination rates continue to rise. Airlines are offering cheap rates and flexible booking policies to get people in seats as soon as possible.

All three big US airlines, United, Delta, and American, along with other smaller ones have stopped charging change and cancellation fees on many flights, excluding the lowest basic economy fares. Insider previously outlined which airlines are the best bets to book in 2021 here.

Major airlines are also continuing to add new destinations as they seek to capitalize on the downturn and come out stronger. Low-cost carrier Southwest announced it will add Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Bellingham, Washington; and Eugene, Oregon this summer. These newest destinations were in addition to the Florida and Montana destinations and the 19 new routes Southwest announced in December, including service between Houston and Chicago, Houston and Dallas, and others.

Domestic budget airline Allegiant Air similarly took on a major expansion, announcing 21 new routes and three new destinations beginning in March. Small carriers like Allegiant are expected to recover from the effects of the last year faster than larger airlines that rely on domestic and international trips, Tom Pallini reported.

Airlines can save on costs even further with the availability of thousands of employees laid off in the last year looking for work, and the chance to buy unwanted planes from cancelled orders at discount prices. Traveler numbers, however, remain about 50% of last year’s levels, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

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