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An electronic sign warns travelers to maintain social distance in the terminal of Denver International Airport in early December. David Zalubowski/Associated Press, file

WASHINGTON — Federal officials are seeking a $27,500 civil penalty against an airline passenger who allegedly struck a flight attendant who asked the passenger and a companion to leave the plane after a dispute over wearing a face mask.

The confrontation on board a Delta Air Lines flight departing from Miami International Airport for Atlanta began when the passenger’s companion refused to wear a mask, secure his tray table or fasten his seatbelt, the Federal Aviation Administration said Friday. Delta, like most airlines, requires most passengers to wear masks except when eating or drinking.

Pilots returned the plane to the gate, and the pair was asked to disembark. The first passenger began yelling at the flight attendant and other passengers, then hit the flight attendant under her left eye.

The FAA did not identify the offending passenger or say whether it was a man or a woman. The person has 30 days to respond to the proposed penalty.

The FAA announced tighter enforcement of rules against disturbances on planes after several rowdy incidents in early January on flights to and from Washington.


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