LaShaunda Jethro: Vaxxed family barred from Southwest flight after autistic son refused mask
A fully-vaccinated California family was barred from boarding a plane because a non-verbal autistic teenager among them refused to wear a mask. The mother, identified as LaShaunda Jethro, shared her shocking experience with a local news channel, telling them how flight attendants refused to let them board until she pulled out reports of their vaccination status and a doctor's note about her son. The Southwest Airlines cabin crew then allowed them entry. But son after, they kicked them off the flight claiming Jethro wasn't wearing a mask. Jethro, however, maintains that she was wearing an oversized mask that kept sliding off her face.
News of this comes amidst a spate of travelers reporting they were kicked out of flights for ridiculous reasons under the guise of failure to follow CDC-mandated coronavirus regulations. In April, Spirit Airlines came under fire after a flight attendant threatened to remove a family because their toddler was not wearing a mask. In March, Spirit again made headlines where they removed an autistic boy, 4, from the flight for not wearing mask, ignoring a doctor's note to exempt him. But Jethro's experience with Southwest still managed to leave her horrified at the treatment the flight crew gave him.
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Who is LaShaunda Jethro?
According to her LinkedIn, the San Diego-based registered nurse has served in the US Navy as a Clinic Supervisor from 2016 to 2017. Her current designation update on the website lists her as a part-time registered nurse at Kaiser Permanante. Jethro and her family were visiting the St Louis area to meet family and friends, but their return journey to Long Beach became harrowing once Southwest Airlines barred them from the flight before take off.
Speaking about the incident to local channel KMOV-TV, Jethro said her son "will not keep a mask on his face. We have tried and tried, he just won't do it." The airline makes exceptions for different abled passengers if they or a guardian make a formal request in addition to carrying a doctor's note. But Jethro said that didn't matter in their case as Southwest still kicked them out for petty reasons.
Airline disputes Jethro's claims
"We get to the door of the plane and the flight attendant is like, 'no, he can't come on, he's gotta wear a mask,'" Jethro told the outlet. "I got my phone and pulled out the doctor's letter." Jethro was carrying documents proving that her son was fully vaccinated, and also called the airline and the local TV outlet, after which she was allowed on the plane. She was however ultimately removed as flight attendants claimed she was not wearing a mask while speaking to the crew. The airline also disputes Jethro's claim that her mask was too big and slipped off her face.
"I'm just still so in shock and just amazed that this happened, and it's like what else can I do?" Jethro told the channel. "I don't know what else to do besides call corporate. What do we need to do to make sure we're doing the right thing." Subsequently, she and her family were booked into another flight even though their luggage was transported with the one they were originally supposed to board. Jethro believes she was removed because she called the TV news station, but the airline disputes that claim as well.