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
Southwest Airlines vs. a two-year-old. His mom tells me he was eating gummy bears with his mask around his chin. The flight crew said that broke mask policy. The flight returned the gate, mom & son kicked off. Full story on @CNN.com: https://t.co/Mh2BEvc5G3 pic.twitter.com/DxbNijXOnR
— Pete Muntean (@petemuntean) September 14, 2020
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.