JetBlue appears to be standing by its decision to kick a mother and her six children off a Wednesday flight after one of the children, a two-year-old, refused to wear a mask.
Despite the original policy specifically stating that small children who struggle to keep a mask are exempt from the policy, a JetBlue spokesperson now claims that the airline updated its mask policy to include children two and older.
“During these unprecedented times, our first priority is to keep crew members and customers safe, and we’ve quickly introduced new safety policies and procedures throughout the pandemic,” JetBlue spokesman Derek Dombrowski said in a statement.
“Children age 2 and over must wear a face covering, consistent with CDC guidelines, which say, ‘masks should not be worn by children under the age of 2,'” Dombrowski added.
A video of a heated confrontation between a stewardess and mother went viral on Wednesday, featuring the mother of six, Chaya Bruck, who was traveling from Orlando to Newark. Flight attendants confronted her and instructed her to get off the plane due to her maskless two-year-old. Video shows the tense moment as other passengers jumped in defense of the mother:
WATCH IT: Family thrown off @JetBlue flight for 2-year-old not wearing mask; when the mother stated she would force the toddler to wear a mask, there were still required to deplane pic.twitter.com/6s7AZqSHd7
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) August 19, 2020
However, Bruck claimed the incident began during their last flight over a week ago.
“The ordeal first began 10 days ago when the mom boarded a JetBlue plane to Orlando, and one of the attendants — who was also on Wednesday’s flight — argued with her about 2-year-old Dina wearing the face covering,” the NY Daily News reported.
“The minute he saw me today, he recognized me,” she said of one of the crew members. “I heard him tell the other stewardesses about me.”
According to Bruck, the attendants argued with her over her child’s age, insisting that she was three-years-old.
“They came over to me and told me my daughter was three-years-old,” she said, according to the Daily News. “I told them she’s two
… I know how old my child is, she’s going to be 3 in September.”
“They were really nasty,” one of the passengers, Charzette Poinsette said of the incident. She added that the mother told the crew she would try to force her toddler to wear the mask but claimed it “wasn’t enough” for the crew.
“It was horrible, the whole experience was traumatizing,” Bruck said after being forced to deplane, noting that the other children were wearing masks covering their noses, per the policy.
“I was trying very hard,” she explained.
“It [JetBlue’s website] says that a child who cannot wear a mask does not have to wear a mask. I tried to tell them this, but they didn’t care. …They wanted me off the plane,” she added.
Indeed, the airline’s April 27 press release announcing the mask mandate specifically states, “Small children who are not able to maintain a face covering are exempt from this requirement.”
However, an entry under “coronavirus travel notices, last updated August 19, states that “all travelers 2 years and older must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth throughout their journey, including during check-in, boarding, while in flight and deplaning.” Despite the date of the last update, JetBlue claims the policy changed August 10.