A mother has shared her “absolute worst moment” after an entire plane full of passengers was forced to disembark because her toddler refused to wear a face mask on an American Airlines flight.
Single mother Rachel Davis said she was at a “complete loss of words” when crew on a flight on September 17 from the US state of North Carolina to New Hampshire approached her before she was seated to insist her two-year-old son wear a mask.
Ms Davis shared the incident on her Instagram account, explaining that her son had been on four other flights with the airline in the same week and had not been required to wear a mask.
Ms Davis said she was told by a crew member that she would have to comply with the company’s policy that states all people over the age of two-years-old must wear a face covering onboard, or leave the aircraft.
“As I tried to put down my things and get a mask out, I heard [the crew member] on the phone saying ‘yeah, it’s clear there is going to be a problem and we will need you to come down,’. The nastiest smug look on her face,” Ms Davis wrote.
She added she was eventually kicked off as her son refused to keep the mask on.
“I tried repeatedly, begged him, bribed him, pleaded with him, did everything I could while he was screaming and crying as I tried to hold him and put the mask on, feeling my absolute lowest of lows as a mother,” she said.
American Airlines has required face coverings on board its flights since May and in July announced it would only allow exemptions for customers under two-years-old. The airline requires all other customers to wear a face covering from the time they enter the airport where their trip begins until they leave the airport where their trip ends.
Ms Davis said struggling to get her toddler to wear a mask was enough to upset her and accompanied the post with an image of herself and her son at the American Airlines gate, looking defeated while her young son slept.
“I continued trying to get him to wear the mask, bawling my eyes out and hyperventilating behind my own suffocating mask. Desperate to get home after the worst week. He would have been asleep before we even pushed back if they had just been humans,” Ms Davis wrote.
The mother said the pilot “had the final say” and all passengers were forced to leave the plane, while she was escorted off by the pilot.
“I screamed my head off in my absolute worst moment,” she said.
“Rather than get themselves any bad press by escorting a crying mum and two-year-old off the plane, they forced everyone to deplane, and wouldn’t let us back on the flight home.”
The mother said the company placed her on another flight later that evening but didn’t elaborate if her two-year-old was asked to wear a mask on that flight.
Ms Davis ended her emotional post by insisting she was not against wearing masks and would not fly with American Airlines again.
“This is the world we live in? This is not a mask debate. This is a ‘be a god damned human’ debate,” she wrote.
She followed her post with a story highlighting the World Health Organisation’s recommendation that children under the age of five should not be required to wear a face mask.
Yahoo News Australia has contacted American Airlines for comment.
“To ensure the safety of our customers and team, American Airlines requires all persons 2 years and older to wear an appropriate face covering throughout the entirety of their journey. Policies are enforced and approved face coverings are made available at key points throughout the customer journey.
“We’ve reached out to the family to learn more about their recent travel experience and to address their concerns,” an American Airlines spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.