Southwest Kicked A Two Year Old Off A Flight Over Masks. A Pilot Flew The Family For Free.

One after another we’ve seen stories of two year olds kicked off planes over mask-wearing.

One story, though, has a happy ending. On April 1 the Harvey family was flying from Denver to Austin on Southwest Airlines. They had practiced for days with their two year old wearing a mask. Boarding went fine, but once seated the child took the mask off and the family was booted from the flight.

Father Erik Harvey went to Facebook and posted an 18 minute discourse on the events. A pilot named James Peck saw the video. He offered to fly up to Denver and bring the family down to Austin in his plane.

The family accepted and got the experience of a lifetime, and an offer of a ride back to Denver to boot.

“I just was floored. I just said [to my husband], ‘You know what, babe? I’m nervous, but I feel like turning him down would be rude like this is an opportunity,” said Michelle.

Peck has even offered to take them back to Denver at the end of their trip.

“The miracles will come to you, things will show up, and that Good Samaritan will show up,” said Erik.

Mask wearing for all passengers two years old and above is a federal regulation but many of these incidents kicking two year olds off planes occurred when it was merely an airline rule. We’ve even seen one airline remove an 18 month old over failure to wear a mask.

While mask wearing does seem to provide some protection, and I have favored mask wearing since the beginning of the pandemic, its benefits are frequently exaggerated. And while studies of this issue continue, significant evidence suggests that very young children do not spread the virus nearly as often as older children or adults. When there’s enough vaccine so that anyone who wants a shot can get one, we should lift mask rules.

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, 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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  1. People spend a lot of time talking about the subset of the population (maybe 15%) that refuses to do something (like wear a mask) because the government told them to do it.

    They spend less time thinking about another 15% of the population that craves the feeling of treating other people as children who need to be taught a lesson and forced to conform. Nick Cave refers to them as “little Caesars and Napoleons”. Some of those people become politicians, some cops and some of them go into low level positions of authority like teachers, flight attendants and mall cops. It’s a small subset of each profession, but when you encounter them, you know right away that the virus is just an opportunity for them to live their little dream.

  2. It is Federal law. This isn’t hard. The article says the dad practiced two or three times with the kid and the kid ripped it off each time. This family knew that the child would not cooperate and chose to put themselves in this situation of risking it that day. Not Southwest’s fault in the slightest.

  3. Sick demented humans making power trip calls with no basis in facts that this age group spreads SARS-CoV-2.

    We humans really messed up our existence. If we make it to the future history will look back one day how poorly the decisions we made.

  4. I call shenanigans that you are a believer in masks. Anyone who pretends the frontier incident was because of an 18-month-old obviously isn’t.

    Not to mention “its benefits are frequently exaggerated”

  5. @Dan,

    I pushed for flight attendants to be allowed to wear masks when the CDC still said they weren’t necessary

    I argued that Republicans and conservatives should favor masks, on their own terms.

    I’ve also argued that people who travel should be wearing more effective masks

    My take on masks is that they aren’t magic, they do help but they help against less-transmissible flu more. Cloth masks don’t do very much, though they help a little with source control of large respiratory droplets.

    Lufthansa recognizes this, and has banned ineffective masks

    Now that I’ve brought receipts, withdraw your claim of ‘shenanigans’ eh?

  6. Oh no! A hysterical mommy. Maybe if they bought the kid a mask with a superhero theme. Most kids love wearing masks. Nice guy pilot tho.

  7. @Gary I fully agree the mandate should be lifted once everyone has the opportunity to get vaccinated. Traveling with young children is tough enough and this is going to be us next month on the exact same route. Need to get that pilot’s phone number!

  8. It’s weird. Many airlines in Asia and Europe don’t require masks for children until a much later age. British Airways, for instance, doesn’t require masks for children as late as age 11. Does the US have access to some secret science that Europe doesn’t have access to?

  9. @Aaron, EXACTLY. They understand that masking toddlers is nearly impossible to enforce and provides very limited benefit.

  10. Another day, another 2 year old refusing mask and family kicked off a flight. It’s not news any longer. And I am sick of FA’s doing their jobs being made the evil witches they are NOT. They have a miserable job to do, enforcing federal laws. I say again, create,install some sort of barrier in the back of the plane for these families who need to take little people on a flight. Put the whole families back there and be done with this already. And yes, some themed N-95 masks for the kids wouldn’t be a bad idea, letting them pick, with mom and dad being able to pick as well. Then they can demonstrate how “we all” have to wear the mask while flying.

  11. Guys like Stefano were happy to follow any idiot decree the likes of Mussolini or Franco could think up.

  12. Shame on you SW. I thought you were better than this. There is no excuse for this type of bureaucratic idioticy. Kudos to the pilot who helped these folks out.

  13. Hey Stefano I hear that SW is looking to hire a new PR Director. You might actually get paid for your crazy reasoning.

  14. @Robin, I find it fascinating that people who don’t have children want to push their ‘solutions’ for which they have no first-hand perspective. Don’t you think a toddler would rather look at the mask with a cool design rather than have it block their face?

  15. @todd You have the facts to back it up! No kid has EVER in history ever passed anything on to anyone else.

    Another Karen & Kevin making a big deal because their Entitled Kid did not get what they wanted.

    Next thing you know the kids is going to be pulling his sock off, pulling his pants off, taking his shirt off and running around naked.

  16. This this is the best thing in a long time. Small kids who have not been taught to be part of society are no longer on planes.

    Kids who throw fits at wearing a mask (something they should be doing everyday already anyway) will also throw fits at staying seated when the accessibility sign is on, kicking people’s seats, throwing tantrums, etc etc.

    Now they won’t be on a plane. I hope that this mask rule will stay on for a long, long time!

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