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- The incident started just before the departure of the flight from Kushiro in Hokkaido for Kansai Airport on September 7, Japan Times reported.
- A cabin crew member had reportedly noticed the man not wearing a mask and advised him to do so per airline protocol. The man was given warnings to urge him to comply with the rules.
- However, he resorted to screaming threats at crew members instead of simply following regulations.
- The flight attendants then asked passengers near the stubborn passenger to move to seats away from him to mitigate any risk of a COVID-19 infection.
- The disturbance and the eventual seat-swapping resulted in a 45-minute delay in the flight’s take-off.
- The flight attendants tried to intervene and calm him down as he continued to ignore them.
- Convinced that the unruly man was becoming a flight risk, the plane’s captain decided to make an emergency landing at Niigata Airport where the passenger was removed from the flight.
- The plane was two hours and 15 minutes late when it eventually reached Kansai Airport.
- Airline officials are now seeking 500,000 yen ($4,700) in compensation from the disruptive man for his actions.
- “We can ask passengers to wear face masks but we cannot force them to do so,” an airline official was quoted as saying. “We cannot refuse passengers from boarding even if they don’t wear one. On this occasion, the passenger disrupted the flight, so we forced him to get off.”