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Southwest Airlines Kicks Family Off Flight After Toddler With Autism Refuses To Keep Mask On

KPRC 2 Click2Houston / YouTube

As we adjust to the new normal of the ongoing pandemic, questions come up that can be difficult to answer. Our society looks for ways to accommodate those with disabilities and the safety of the public.

However, Southwest Airlines found themselves in a pickle earlier this week, when a passenger’s 3-year-old child refused to wear a mask.

They ended up removing him and his family from the flight.

Alyssa Sadler from Houston, TX was flying home after spending the week with her husband, who’s currently working in Midland, TX. She told the NBC Houston affiliate her story.

As she describes it:

“It was just not a good morning.”

As the plane was preparing for take-off a flight attendant saw Sadler’s son without a mask and informed her, he would need to put one on.

Sadler tried, but to no avail.

“He was screaming. He was throwing a fit. He was screaming no, no, no.”

Sadler’s son has a sensory processing disorder and doesn’t like his face touched. While she had a doctor’s note about the situation, the airline still enforced their rules.

To many online, this was not a great response.

The plane returned to the gate, and the Sadlers were forced to disembark. They got their luggage back and the boy was written up for non-compliance with the airline’s policies.

Sadler wears her mask everywhere, but believes there should be exceptions.

“I think there needs to be something in place for children or even adults with disabilities who can’t wear a mask. They should have some kind of exemption.”

This conflict comes from Southwest Airline announcing in July that they were eliminating mask exemptions for medical reasons they had allowed until then.

Southwest Airline has responded to the story, issuing a statement on the matter.

It reads:

“Southwest Airlines requires all Customers over the age of two to wear a face covering or mask while traveling to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19. We communicate this policy to all Customers at multiple touchpoints throughout the travel journey, so we regret any inconvenience this family experienced.”

“Customers are informed of the policy on our website during booking, in a pre-trip email sent prior to departure, and during a required acknowledgement that’s part of the Customer Health Declaration Form.”

Anyone who is removed for not complying with the policy does receive a full refund.

However, this story illustrates the problem when these rules have to be enforced with zero tolerance, because some people refuse to wear a mask.

So the question becomes, what can we do about this?

People will debate over this story online. And since the FAA has not issued any federal requirements on masks, the airlines themselves are coming up with their own policies.

But maybe these kind of hardline rules wouldn’t be necessary if everyone who could wear a mask did, instead of protesting a safety guidance. Just a thought.

Ben Acosta

Written by Ben Acosta

Ben Acosta is an Arizona-based fiction author and freelance writer. In his free time, he critiques media and acts in local stage productions.