A husband and wife who say they are Silver elite members of United’s MileagePlus program report their family has been banned from United Airlines “forever” because their two year old was unwilling to keep a mask on. The child’s mother, a trainer and health coach, shares on Instagram that they ‘always fly United’ and have flown with their child four times during the pandemic without issue. So why now?
Of course if the child was unwilling to wear a mask when it was required and United’s rules weren’t enforced earlier, that’s on the airline.
The family was flying Denver to Newark on Friday after making the two and a half hour drive from their home in Breckenridge, Colorado. They didn’t get to take their flight, and didn’t get their luggage back right away either. United wasn’t going to delay the flight longer than it took to remove the family’s car seat so they could drive home.
The family’s video has been viewed 2.3 million times in less than a day.
American Airlines by the way is thrilled that this time it’s not them.
Your concerns are appreciated. This was another carrier.
— americanair (@AmericanAir) December 12, 2020
When the family got off the flight, the father asked that they be re-accommodated on another flight in first class. This was refused. He argued that the airline’s policy is ridiculous, since “the virus has a 99% survival rate.”
However United is very clear about their mask rules. The family should have flown Delta, which allows young children unable to wear masks not to do so. Delta flies Denver – New York JFK non-stop.
I’m in favor of mask-wearing, though most of the masks people wear aren’t very good. They may offer limited source protection. Travelers should make an effort to wear better masks. I’m not in favor of kicking off families whose two year olds can’t wear masks. The preponderance of evidence highly suggests that the risk of spread from a two year old is very low.
More problematic is that the family planned to violate New York’s coronavirus restrictions and not quarantine on arrival. The family was flying to New York for the weekend (so not long enough to be released from quarantine requirements) to go see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center and visit with friends who were coming into the city from Cleveland. Perhaps it’s better they turned around.
I suspect that the family was refused transportation on Friday but not yet added to the list of passengers to deny future travel to, and that if they are indeed banned as they report that this will not be ‘forever’ as they believe but until the mask requirement is lifted.
Update: As I expected, despite being told by a United agent that they aren’t welcome to fly the airline, they are not actually banned. That’s not a decision made on the spot at the airport. United offers,
The health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, which is why we have a multi-layered set of policies, including mandating that everyone onboard two and older wears a mask. These procedures are not only backed by guidance from the CDC and our partners at the Cleveland Clinic, but they’re also consistent across every major airline.
We are investigating this specific incident and have made contact with the family. We also refunded their tickets and returned their car seat and bags.
United’s claim, however, that their policy on two year old mask wearing is “consistent across every major airline” is not accurate. It’s similar to American’s policy and Southwest’s. However Delta’s policy says “young children who cannot maintain a face covering are exempt from the mask requirement.”