DALLAS (AP) — Two recent incidents involving young children who refused to wear face masks show how airlines are struggling to balance safety with compassionate treatment of all their customers during a pandemic.
JetBlue Airways forced a woman and her six children off a plane this week when her 2-year-old daughter wouldn’t keep her mask on.
“It was horrible, the whole experience was traumatizing,” the mother, Chaya Bruck, told the New York Daily News from the airport in Orlando, Florida, where the Brooklyn family was stranded.
Last week, a Texas woman said Southwest Airlines booted her family off a plane after one of the children, a 3-year-old with autism, refused to wear a mask. Alyssa Sadler said her son became upset because he does not like to have his face touched.
Airline mask debate: Family removed from Southwest flight after 3-year-old son with autism would not wear a face mask
All major U.S. airlines have mask rules and have banned at least a couple hundred passengers who have refused to comply. Typically, the violators are adults who argue that there is no government requirement to wear a mask — there isn’t; the Federal Aviation Administration has declined to impose one, leaving it up to the airlines.
JetBlue and Southwest both require masks for all passengers except those under the age of 2.
A JetBlue spokesman said the company’s policy mirrors guidelines on masks from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“During these unprecedented times, our first priority is to keep crew members and customers safe, and we’ve quickly introduced new safety policies and procedures throughout the pandemic,” the airline spokesman, Derek Dombrowski, said in an email.
Dombrowski said customers get an email before their flight that details safety rules including the one on face masks, and employees are ready to help customers who need assistance.
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