A mum has urged other parents to be selective with their airlines after she says she was kicked off a flight when her two-year-old took his mask off to eat a snack.
Jodi Degyansky said she felt embarrassed when the pilot of her Southwest Airlines Florida to Chicago flight on Saturday (local time) turned back after already driving away from the gate, NBC 2 reported.
“Flight attendants kept coming over asking if we would wear it the full flight, and I said he would. It definitely was a struggle but something we’re working on,” Ms Degyansky told the network.
“A couple minutes later, we were pulled back into the gate and I was asked to leave the plane accompanied by the manager, the supervisor, the flight attendants and the pilot.”
The ordeal was “emotional and traumatic” for her son, Hayes Jarboe, who had turned two just two weeks prior, Ms Degyansky said.
According to the airline’s policy, all passengers aged two years and over must wear a face mask at all times while flying.
The mum said she agreed with the policy, but had called for leniency and understanding for parents trying their hardest to manage restless young children.
“I know you have to draw the line but let's be a little compassionate with everyone's individual circumstances,” she told USA Today.
In response to the backlash, the airline had doubled down on its policy, standing by staff that acted to enforce it.
A statement provided to USA Today said the incident was being investigated and Ms Degyansky, who had to pay $600 to get on an alternative flight home, would be issued a full refund.
“If a customer is unable to wear a face covering for any reason, Southwest regrets that we are unable to transport the individual. In those cases, we will issue a full refund and hope to welcome the customer onboard in the future, if public health guidance regarding face coverings changes,” a spokesperson for the airline said.
Ms Degyansky hoped that in future some “empathy and sympathy” would be utilised by airline staff when making such decisions.
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