Southwest Airlines Kicked A Two Year Old Off A Plane

Last month Southwest kicked an autistic three year old off a flight for not wearing a mask. And then a week later JetBlue kicked a two year old off. Now Southwest has joined the two year old club, kicking a woman and her two year old son off a Fort Myers – Chicago flight on Saturday. The boy was “snacking prior to takeoff and wasn’t wearing his mask.”

The airline was fine with the child, who is ‘trying to get used to’ masks according to his mother, on the trip to Florida. On their return home flight attendants were both strict and vigilant.

Degyansky said she boarded the flight with her son, Hayes Jarboe, and he took off his mask to eat some of the snacks that were served. On multiple occasions, a flight attendant told her that he needed to be masked, but he was eating, she said. The plane had already left the gate, but returned for staff to escort them off the flight. For about 15 minutes, Degyansky argued with airline personnel because her son had his mask back on, but they did not listen to her, she said

The child turned two just two weeks prior. The mother isn’t anti-mask. She says she was ‘humiliated’ to have the plane return to the gate over her child.

Without any more direct flights that day, she wound up buying a $600 walk up ticket on American Airlines – which has the same mask rules as Southwest.

Delta doesn’t require small children to wear masks. Southwest, United, and American require masks for anyone two years old or older – no exceptions. Not every two year old will wear a mask. These airlines say, then, don’t fly. The argument is it’s necessary for the safety of other passengers, however:

  • What passes for a mask on most airlines isn’t especially prophylactic to begin with.
  • There’s significant evidence that two year olds (indeed, children under 10) do not spread the virus nearly as much as adults. There’s very little scientific basis for a mask requirement for a two year old who isn’t exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19.

There’s just no clear benefit to requiring children who are two to wear a mask. And while the flight attendants didn’t accept that the child was eating, one man on another airline nursed a single can of pringles to avoid wearing a mask on an entire four hour flight.

The biggest reason, I think, to avoid a federal mask rule is so that we don’t criminalize situations like this – and so that families with small children who can’t wear masks for hours on end can still fly Delta.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. You know I’ve always been skeptical of these masks rules. I personally think its pointless and only here to make passengers feel safe, particularly those passengers that have been told that “science” says they work but who’s only knowledge of science comes from a half read, mostly forgotten high school textbook.

    In any case, if this policy means that there will be few screaming kids flying, I’m all for it!

  2. I hope the flight attendants are proud of themselves. Talk about taking their post 9/11 superiority complex to new heights. This is just asinine and its getting out of hand.

  3. This scamdemic theater madness needs to end already. That said, I’m all for giving screaming kids the boot off the plane.

  4. I am a Karen for health reasons: as an anemic sufferer, my oxygen is already challenged and severely lacking. I WILL NOT compromise my health further for companies that drink the KoolAid

  5. Finally, it’s about time the airlines have empowered the flight attendants. Their job is hard enough without allowing parents to excuse their children’s behavior. Thank goodness an airline is willing to protect the rights Of the passengers.

  6. Good. They would have done the same had the 2-year refused to wear a seat-belt (Federal law) or stripped naked and refused to wear clothes (American puritanism).

    Shame on the parents for not training the kid during COVID-19.

  7. If there was a scientific basis to say a child one day short of a 2nd birthday was a different “medical threat profile” than a 2-4 year-old, then this kind of medical security theater to fly would at least be a tiny bit more justifiable. But ridiculous lines in the sand, profile-based security theater and intrusive suspicion applicable to airline customers has become repeatedly and increasingly normalized in the air travel process over time. And that’s why, unfortunately, I can’t say I’m surprised to see this kind of incident taking place with young children flying when the order of the day is medical security theater .

  8. The airline was in the right. If passengers are aware of rules but do not follow them they should not be allowed to fly. Even if the odds of a small child infecting others with Covid-19 are not as great as an adult infecting others, why should other passengers have to take any chance at all? I admire parents who are able to travel with small children, but in these times non-emergency travel with small ones just might not be the best idea. It’s a sad time we live in when it has come to this.

  9. @S N –

    “research has shown that children under 10 are “less effective transmitters of the COVID-19 virus and infrequently serve as the index case in COVID-19 family clusters or in community spread” https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/87883

    “A recent study from South Korea of 5,706 infected people and their 59,073 contacts found children under 10 transmitted less often to adults while those between the ages of 10 and 19 spread the virus as well as adults do. ” https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-scientists-know-about-how-children-spread-covid-19-180975396/

    “One theory suggests that because children’s smaller lungs do not push out as many droplets as adults’ do, they also push out fewer droplets potentially containing the coronavirus, said Jeffrey Starke, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who sees patients at Texas Children’s Hospital.

    Whether it’s small lungs, less-welcoming cells or other factors, the reason for why kids may be more resilient to catching and spreading the virus is elusive. ” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/20/parenting/coronavirus-children-spread-covid-19.html

    Even a skeptical researcher concedes “There is some evidence for an age gradient in infectiousness, with younger children less likely and older children more likely to transmit at levels similar to adults” https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/what-do-we-know-about-children-and-coronavirus-transmission/

  10. Two comments:

    First of all did all you “good for the airline” people actually READ the story or see it on other sources? The child WAS WEARING a mask!!! He had it down to eat a snack but his mother planned to put it back on when the snack was over just like she did on the flight to FL. You are being very one-sided and frankly I think SW WAY overreacted in this case.

    Secondly – @Shield Freund who posted “I am a Karen for health reasons: as an anemic sufferer, my oxygen is already challenged and severely lacking. I WILL NOT compromise my health further for companies that drink the KoolAid” —- Don’t get on a damn plane or go anywhere you may be compromised if you are that high risk. You can’t expect others to bow to your wishes and worry about YOUR health. It is about PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY which too many seem to forget. Take care of yourselves people but don’t be so self-centered that you expect everyone else to worry about you – they don’t!!!!!

  11. AC nailed it on the head. Poor adults who are upset over a 2 year old having a snack!
    Waa Waa.
    @Sheila What are you doing flying if you’re so compromised?

  12. The video shows the child jumping up and down in the seat, not buckled in.

    If your children can’t/won’t follow the rules, don’t fly or leave your children in the care of others when you fly, until they are old enough to follow rules.

    A mask on a two-year-old is a rule, just as is wearing a seat belt and wearing clothes while flying. None of those rules will guarantee you won’t get sick or die in a plane crash but they are non-negotiable.

  13. @Gary – thanks for the references. The consensus now seems to be children under 10 do not spread as much. But as schools and day cares open, we are starting to see emerging evidence that contradicts this. Unfortunately, this is still a bit early and we will know for sure as kids start going out more for school compared to a few months ago when they were mostly at home and are unlikely to be the index case in their houses.

  14. @SN – what you want to look for isn’t “cases in schools” (and in particular, elementary schools) but whether incidence there is greater than in the population at large.

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