A Southwest plane returned to its gate on Saturday to boot off a mom and her son after the two-year-old took off his mask to have a snack.
Jodi Degyansky, flying from Fort Myers, Florida, to Chicago, boarded the plane with her 2-year-old son on Saturday but was surprised to see that the flight attendants were “much stricter” than those she interacted with on her previous flight.
Her son, Hayes Jarboe, took his mask off after they boarded the plane to eat a snack, but a flight attendant repeatedly warned he needed to have his mask on. According to the News-Press, the plane had already departed the gate but turned around to boot both Degyansky and her son off the aircraft.
“Degyansky said a flight attendant told her that parents were using snacks and chips as an excuse to not put masks on their toddlers,” the News-Press reported, adding the mother “argued with airline personnel because her son had his mask back on, but they did not listen to her.”
Southwest offers very few exemptions for masks. While everyone two and older is required to wear a proper face covering, Degyansky noted that her son just turned two less than a month ago.
“My toddler who literally turned 2 two weeks ago. … I know you have to draw the line but let’s be a little compassionate with everyone’s individual circumstances,” she said.
Regardless of the age, the Southwest website explicitly states that “there may be times when a Customer needs to briefly remove their face covering,” listing eating, drinking, and taking medication. It does not prohibit such activities but states that they “expect these instances to be very brief, and Customers should put their face covering back on as soon as possible.”
“I’m sure other parents are going through this,” Degyansky, who spent $600 purchasing tickets from another airline, said. “I want people to either do their homework before they choose to fly or find an airline that has more leniency.”
“I just felt like I can’t believe it happened,” she added. “I was left scrambling — how the hell am I going to get home? What if I didn’t have the resources to buy a $600 ticket?”
Southwest told News-Press they are looking into the incident.
A Texas mom flying Southwest recently had a similar experience after the airline kicked her and her two young children off after her autistic son, 3, refused to wear a mask.
“Because of her son’s sensory processing disorder, he did not like having his face touched. Even though Sadler had a note from their doctor about his condition, it did not make a difference, she claimed,” Breitbart News reported.
“He was screaming. He was throwing a fit. He was screaming no, no, no,” the mom, Alyssa Sadler, said.
“I think there needs to be something in place for children or even adults with disabilities who can’t wear a mask. They should have some kind of exemption,” she added.