Southwest Airlines removes masked toddler with disabilities from flight citing Biden mandate
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DENVER, Colorado, May 7, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Southwest Airlines removed a mask-compliant child with disabilities and his family from a Denver flight last week, citing the federal mask mandate enacted by the Biden administration.
A Colorado family said that they were booted from a Southwest flight on Friday because the captain “did not feel comfortable” with their son’s sensory processing disorder, 9NEWS reported.
Caroline Scott said that her three-year-old was wearing a mask without problems as her family boarded a flight to visit her 94-year-old grandmother in Florida. Scott had called the airline ahead of time to notify them about her child’s condition and said she initially was told that “there would be no issues.”
“When we actually got to our flight we were told there was an issue and they had to ask a supervisor to get the captain’s permission for us to board, even though when I had called they said there would be no issues,” she told 9NEWS.
Scott added that the captain felt uncomfortable with the toddler on the plane, despite letters from his occupational therapist and pediatrician attesting to his parents’ coping skills in the event that he grew distressed with his mask.
Scott said that her family emphasized to Southwest employees that the boy would keep the mask on throughout the flight. However, moments after they boarded the plane and took their seats, a supervisor approached the family and made them disembark.
“They came on to the plane and said we needed to deplane because the captain did not feel comfortable with my son on the plane,” Scott said. Her son had been wearing mask contently at the time, she noted.
“I have doctor's notes, an occupational therapist note supporting us,” Scott told FOX News on Friday. “But they wouldn't listen to me. They wouldn't talk to me. They wouldn't look at the notes. So we were walked off of the jetway.”
“We were deplaned not for our behaviors, but for disclosing my son's disability, which is discrimination,” she continued.
Southwest Airlines refunded the family, but they could not find another flight that evening, and ultimately had to book a flight for nearly $2,000 the following morning. The three-year-old reportedly had no problems on that trip.
“He was compliant and on his best behavior and doing so well and they don’t know the backstory of what it took to get to this point just to travel,” Scott said. She mentioned that she complained to Southwest Airlines’ customer service department and emailed the CEO directly, though she did not say whether she planned to file charges.
“Southwest Airlines regrets any inconvenience this family experienced while traveling," Southwest told 9NEWS. “Southwest Employees are working each day to ensure the requirements of the federal mask mandate with sensitivity during these challenging times.”
In January, the White House and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published multiple orders establishing a mask mandate that applies to children as young as two years old. People with certain developmental and cognitive disabilities are supposed to be exempted from the mandate.
“The CDC’s mandate that children as young as two years old must wear facemasks is among the most stringent face mask age requirements in the world,” a group of more than two dozen Republican congressmen said in a letter to CDC director Rochelle Walensky last month.
“The implementation of these recommendations has had serious consequences for some Americans,” they added, highlighting that small children have been found to account for very little, if any, COVID-19 spread. “Multiple parents of young children have been removed from flights, and in some instances, permanently banned, from future travel on the airline they were flying due to their toddler’s refusal to wear a mask.”
“For parents of children with disabilities, compliance has proved almost impossible,” they said.