Spirit Airlines under fire as flight attendant threatens to remove family of 4 over maskless toddler
'We’re done talking. The pilot wants you off, so you have to get off,' the attendant can be heard telling the father
A series of videos being circulated all over social media shows a Spirit Airlines flight attendant asking a family of four to deplane since their two-year-old child was not wearing a mask. The incident took place on Monday, April 5, 2021, in Florida aboard a flight from Orlando to Atlantic City. Later, all the passengers on the flight were forced to get off before being allowed back on board, according to The New York Post.
However, in a statement given to Newsweek, a spokesperson from Spirit Airlines disputed the claims. They revealed that the parents of the toddler were not wearing their mask properly on two separate occasions, which was why the cabin crew asked them to deplane.
Did Spirit Airlines deboard all passengers over maskless toddler?
On Monday, a Jewish family was traveling with Spirit Airlines with their two-year-old daughter and a young son with special needs. The girl was eating yogurt while sitting on her mother's lap, who was seven months pregnant.
In the viral video footage, the father of the child and a flight attendant can be spotted having an argument. The father removes his mask from the face and draws it over his chin multiple times while talking. Meanwhile, the Airline attendant keeps insisting that the family needs to exit the plane for "non-compliance" with their mask policy.
According to one of the videos, the flight attendant indicated that the toddler was not wearing a mask, a claim which is countered by a co-passenger who says, "A lot of kids aren't wearing masks," according to New York Post.
The mother kept pleading that the child turned two only a month ago and was still adjusting to wearing a mask. But the attendant sternly told her, "It’s not my choice. You have to take your stuff and get off,” adding, “We’re done talking. The pilot wants you off, so you have to get off." She also threatened to call the police to intervene in the incident.
The father can be heard addressing the other passengers, "You’ve been sitting next to me. Was I wearing the mask the whole time? Was I wearing the mask the whole time everybody?” However, he pulls his mask down and puts it back up multiple times during the interaction.
Later, when Orlando Police arrived upon reports of disturbance aboard the Spirit Airlines flight, they confirmed, "Upon arrival, officers saw that the flight was in the middle of de-boarding. Our officers stood by, while Spirit Airlines resolved the issue."
Another video footage has emerged from the scene which shows the father saying, "The captain was OK with it, the entire plane was OK with it but there was one African American that was not OK with it.” He goes on to add that his daughter had just turned two and he also had a specially-abled son who experiences seizures. In a later video filmed by the family itself, the father informs that all the passengers were allowed back on the plane and the flight attendant responsible for the entire incident was removed.
According to Newsweek, the face mask policy of Spirit Airlines state that children under the age of two are exempted from wearing a mask. "Guests who choose not to comply with our face covering requirement will lose future flight privileges with Spirit," reads an excerpt from the policy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that children who are two years of age or older should wear face masks in public and around people they do not live with. "CDC recognizes that wearing masks may not be possible in every situation or for some people. Correct and consistent use of masks may be challenging for some children, such as children with certain disabilities, including cognitive, intellectual, developmental, sensory and behavioral disorders," states the CDC policy.
Spirit Airlines contradicted the claims made on social media about the entire incident. According to Newsweek, the Airlines stated that the family was allowed to travel on the same flight after they talked to a supervisor and agreed to comply with their face mask policy. They also added that contrary to social media claims, the flight attendant was not removed or detained. Rather, the attendant was spotted leaving because of a last-minute decision to swap staff over flight delay.
'I needed another reason to never fly Spirit Airlines'
Spirit Airlines drew severe backlash on social media after the videos went viral. "I'm not sure I needed another reason to never fly Spirit Airlines," a user tweeted in response to the incident. Another asked, "What’s up with @SpiritAirlines? Harassing a two-year-old, and then ordering everyone off the plane? Where were the pilots? Who was in charge?"
Questions were raised about the behavior of the Airlines staffer, as one user wrote, "A two year old? Really? First it's fear mongering, now it tyranny. I will never fly on this airline."
Another recent flyer with the airlines pointed out, "I just came back from Florida with them yesterday and they had a dirty bottle of sprite, old napkin and silverware just laying on my seat as they are announcing they take “extraordinary measures to clean” on the speaker. Ironic."
I'm not sure I needed another reason to never fly Spirit Airlines.— Tim Grieve (@Grieve_Tim) April 6, 2021
A two year old? Really? First it's fear mongering, now it tyranny. I will never fly on this airline.— Sean (@Sean47872985) April 5, 2021
I just came back from Florida with them yesterday and they had a dirty bottle of sprite, old napkin and silverware just laying on my seat as they are announcing they take “extraordinary measures to clean” on the speaker. Ironic.— keya thakkar (@KeyaThakkar) April 5, 2021