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Passenger removed, Delta flight in Detroit delayed over mask

Neal Rubin
The Detroit News

A Delta Air Lines flight from Detroit to Los Angeles had to make a pre-liftoff detour back to the gate when a passenger refused to wear a mask.

Delta Flight 201, scheduled to depart at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, took off 47 minutes late after the passenger was escorted from the Airbus A321. It arrived in L.A. with 84 passengers at 1:31 a.m. Detroit , 28 minutes behind schedule.

“We apologize to customers on flight 201 from DTW to LAX that returned to the gate when a customer did not comply with Delta’s mask-wearing requirement onboard," the airline said in a statement. "After a short delay, the flight departed to Los Angeles.”

Pamela Wiley, the mother of Alexis Wiley, chief of staff to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, was among the passengers on the flight. Alexis Wiley posted a short video on Twitter showing a woman in a black or navy floral dress rolling a suitcase and carrying a satchel as she disembarked.

Pamela Wiley "could hear a ruckus in back," Alexis Wiley said. The flight attendants were polite, Pamela Wiley reported, but resolute.

The passenger had worn a mask through boarding, Pamela Wiley told her daughter, but removed it once she was seated.

Delta's written policy requires that masks be worn at lobby check-in, in sky clubs, at boarding gate areas, on jet bridges and "on board the aircraft for the duration of the flight — except limited time while eating or drinking."

The aviation news website said Delta "has been vocal about its mask policy throughout the summer. Altogether, all passengers over the age of 2 and staff members are required to wear a face mask or appropriate cloth face covering over their nose and mouth throughout their journey with the airline."

Nevertheless, the website said, "hundreds of its customers have already been banned for refusing to follow the rules." CBS News, quoting an internal memo from Delta CEO Ed Bastian, said the airline has placed 270 passengers on a no-fly list over mask issues.

Pamela Wiley was in Detroit meeting her weeks-old granddaughter, Aliyah Ashley, Alexis' first child.

Alexis' younger sister is due in October, she said, and "it's scary enough for my mom to be on a plane. People's jobs depend on the travel industry getting back up and running, and to not be compliant, you're really hurting other people."

Twitter: @nealrubin_dn