Rachel Starr Davis was fleeing a hurricane in Florida last week, connecting to American Airlines flight 5595 from Charlotte to Manchester, New Hampshire. Before pushback a flight attendant approached her and asked how old her son is.
The two year old boy wouldn’t wear a mask, despite in his mother’s words ‘begging, bribing, pleading’ but he screamed and cried as she “tried to hold him and put the mask on.”
It’s hard to imagine how the mother felt as she tried to get her two year old to wear a mask. She’d flown three other segments with the child within a week, and no other flight attendants had worried about a two year old wearing a mask. It is American Airlines policy, though not all airlines require children that young to wear them. Delta doesn’t, for instance.
The captain decided that the passengers would have to be removed. Instead of escorting the woman and her screaming child off, they offloaded the entire aircraft. Here’s the woman in the gate area, after getting off the flight (sound on):
The airline, for its part, says,
To ensure the safety of our customers and team, American Airlines requires all persons 2 years and older to wear an appropriate face covering throughout the entirety of their journey. Policies are enforced and approved face coverings are made available at key points throughout the customer journey. We’ve reached out to the family to learn more about their recent travel experience and to address their concerns.
While children can both get and spread the virus, the balance of available evidence suggests that very young children do not spread the virus nearly as frequently as older children or adults. Maskless two year olds do not make Delta a less safe airline than American, Southwest, United and JetBlue who all require two year olds to wear masks whether they’re capable of doing so or not.
It’s not clear, of course, how the airline thought things would unfold differently on the flight they rebooked the passengers onto – except of course that more often than not cabin crew seem to ignore the requirement for two year olds (and sometimes 20 and 30 year olds) and so they rolled the dice.