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Southwest Airlines, already under fire for its notably harsh policies toward anyone who violates its mask mandate, is back in the spotlight again — this time for disciplining a family for a veritable mask-related precrime by a 3-year-old child.
According to Denver station KDVR, the Scott family’s 3-year-old son, Orion, never even took off his mask. Yet the family was booted from a Southwest Airlines flight anyway last Friday after Orion’s parents alerted the airline about his disability.
Because of the child’s sensory disorder, his parents were reportedly worried that he might possibly have some difficulty with his mask and could use some support. The boy’s mother, Caroline Scott, said they alerted Southwest Airlines about his disability and a note from Orion’s doctor and an occupational therapist were provided to the airline ahead of time, according to KDVR.
Yet this apparent precrime was enough to get the family booted from their flight to Fort Lauderdale.
“They say Orion had his mask on and was buckled up when suddenly a Southwest employee approached them and ordered them off the plane at the request of the captain,” KDVR reported.
“She said you have to get off the plane. The captain doesn’t feel comfortable with your family on it. We were not de-boarded for behaviors, but preemptively in case he might take off his mask, and he’s also three,” Orion’s mother told the station.
In other words, the family was pre-emptively booted over a fear of the 3-year-old removing his mask.
The Scotts were reportedly forced to book a last-minute flight with another airline for $1,700, though this time around, they said nothing about their son’s condition.
“We thought we were doing the right thing and for being forefront and honest, we were punished for it. We’re never going to disclose again, and that’s a shame, because it should be ‘how can we support people who need extra support?’ Not let’s kick them off the plane. No family should have to go through this,” Orion’s mother said.
In a statement to KDVR, Southwest Airlines expressed regret but seemingly defended its draconian decision-making by pointing to federal law.
“Southwest Airlines regrets any inconvenience this family experienced while traveling, and our Customer Relations Team is contacting the family directly regarding their experience. Southwest Employees are working each day to ensure the requirements of the federal mask mandate with sensitivity during these challenging times,” it said.
“We appreciate the ongoing understanding and cooperation among our Customers and Employees as we work collectively to support the comfort and wellbeing of all who travel with us during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” the airline added.
No part of President Joe Biden’s federal mask mandate states that families should be punished for committing mask-related precrimes.
Southwest Airlines’ latest move marks the most drastic escalation yet in its exceedingly draconian enforcement of mask-wearing policies.
Another incident that occurred on a Southwest Airlines flight out of Iowa on Sunday wasn’t quite as Orwellian, though it was awfully close.
In this case, a Des Moines family wasn’t allowed on their flight and, instead, had to drive home from St. Louis because their autistic 5-year-old had trouble with his mask.
Dr. Vince Hassel, a fellow passenger who witnessed the whole ordeal and reportedly tried lobbying the airline on the family’s behalf, was horrified.
“They weren’t going to let the kid on the plane if he didn’t put his mask on. He just wasn’t having it and throwing a fit. Just to watch this play out was absolutely horrible,” he told Des Moines station KCCI.
The only lawmakers who’ve shown any interest in rectifying this problem have been conservatives like Utah Rep. Chris Stewart, a Republican who, in March, introduced the “No Mask Mandate for Kids Act.”
“This decision doesn’t belong in the hands of the federal government. Families with young children are being thrown off flights for the slightest mask-wearing ‘infraction.’ Industries, states, and families have a right to decide whether or not children have to wear masks while traveling,” he said in a statement at the time.
If passed, the bill, which stands no chance of actually being passed in the Democrat-controlled House, would have prevented the latest incidents.
Forcing kids to wear masks while traveling shouldn’t be mandated by the federal government.
Today, I introduced legislation that will put the decision back in your hands. Let’s put an end to this needless government overreach. https://t.co/cTNHrEh7Lo
— Rep. Chris Stewart (@RepChrisStewart) March 23, 2021
Because there appears to be no way — for now, at least — to roll back the federal mask mandate or hold Southwest Airlines accountable on a legal level, the only option for disgruntled fliers is to do as the Scotts did and switch airlines.
And from the looks of it, it seems some are doing exactly that:
You are certainly not committed to doing the right thing by your Customers, and that includes kicking Children with disabilities off your planes. So glad I took my business to Delta.
— Annie May Swift (@anniemayswift) May 7, 2021
Shame on you for treating autistic children the way you do.
It’s great to learn what airlines NOT to patronize again.
— Nations are still useful🖖🍿🎥🙏 (@Qurioser) May 7, 2021
@SouthwestAir – what is going on? We have been flying you for >20 years. Now you start changing our flights left and right. Canceling booked flights w/no other options. If I pay for a flight how can you just discontinue then. Thinking of changing to another airline
— Ann Smith (@billsgirl23) May 6, 2021
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