A passenger aboard a plane attempting to depart Orlando International Airport en route to New Orleans was arrested after refusing to comply with mask protocols on the plane, harassing other passengers, and becoming aggressive with officers.
Over the last two years, the COVID pandemic has yielded a myriad of mandates, rules, procedures, and protocols in public places like restaurants, theme parks like Walt Disney World and Disneyland, grocery and retail stores, and airports. Because the virus itself is ever-evolving, the mandates (or lack thereof) have also evolved from time to time. And because many opinions and feelings about the virus, the pandemic, and how to address them are fueled by personal experience and/or politics, not everyone feels the need to comply with some of the rules when it comes to face coverings and the like.
Last week at Orlando International Airport, police arrested a man who apparently felt negatively about wearing a face mask. The man was asked to disembark the aircraft after he allegedly tried to get other passengers to remove their face masks, despite a mandate that requires passengers to wear face coverings when boarding the plane, during the flight, and when disembarking.
Chad Breaux, 43, of River Ridge, Louisiana, was arrested by Orlando Police officers after he boarded a Southwest Airlines plane ahead of Flight 2419 bound for New Orleans on Thursday. Officers were responding to a call about a disturbance.
Southwest Airlines crew members reported that Breaux began yelling at other passengers about their face coverings, saying things like “If you were a man, you would not be wearing a mask,” according to The Orlando Sentinel.
Breaux was not complying with Southwest’s face mask requirements. According to the arrest report from the Orlando Police Department, the passenger “became irate and aggressive” toward officers while they were escorting him off the plane.
The report also noted that one of the Orlando Police officers had to push the passenger back with an open hand in response to the feeling that Breaux was going to strike the officer. Breaux then “continued to yell profanities towards these officers and the passengers who were standing by,” as he was removed from the plane, and he called out again, “If you are a man or woman, you would not wear a mask.” The report further stated that the man poked one of the officers in the shoulder.
Breaux was arrested once he was off the plane. He has been charged with assault on an LEO, disorderly conduct, and battery of a law enforcement officer. His bond was set at $2,750.
Just last month, a female passenger became aggressive with Orlando Police officers after she was denied boarding because she was intoxicated. The woman led police on a slow-speed chase through the airport while she rode atop her motorized suitcase.
MCO is the airport used by Guests of the Walt Disney World Resort who choose to fly into Florida on their way to visit Mickey. In celebration of Disney World’s 50th anniversary, the airport was decorated so that Guests were immersed in a spirit of celebration from the moment their planes arrived.
Orlando International Airport serves an average of 40 million passengers across one main terminal (called the North Terminal; the South Terminal is still under construction), four concourses, and 129 gates, annually. In 2019 alone, the airport served a record 50.6 million passengers. Of those passengers, nearly 7.2 million were traveling internationally, and close to 43.5 million passengers were traveling domestically.