American Airlines has responded to a viral video shared by a mother whose family had to be kicked off a flight allegedly because her two-year-old son would not keep his mask on.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the airline company confirmed that the viral video was legitimate, and they did ask a family to step out of the plane at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. The spokesperson said that the crew of AA Flight 1284 had to return to the gate so that Amanda Pendarvis and her family could deplane.
However, the spokesperson described the incident as more complicated than what the viral story has let on. The family had to be asked out of the plane because they did not comply with the crew's orders to remain seated as the aircraft was on the taxiway. They also did not keep their face mask secure.
The toddler was not in his seat, which was against the safety protocols. While they did remind passengers about the face mask rule, the spokesperson said that no one from the airline crew personally addressed the family's "failure to comply with face-covering requirements" as they were more focused on reinforcing the seatbelt requirement during takeoff. They were also not informed that the toddler was having trouble breathing or experiencing an asthma attack.
'Contain Your Child, Pull Up Your Mask'
Pendarvis, however, wrote her version of the story on social media. She confirmed that her toddler was walking between the aisle during takeoff since he wanted to get to his grandmother. The mother also said that his son kept pulling down her face mask and refused to wear his own since he has asthma.
A male crew member, identified only as Carl, apparently told Pendarvis that her son would need to be masked at all times during the flight. Carl also allegedly told her to contain her child and pull up her face mask.
The mom said she tried to explain their situation to the flight attendant while attempting to put a face mask on her toddler.
Hello, maybe we get flight attendant fired from @AmericanAir today?— Tiger Lily (@yogarespecter) September 14, 2021
My sweet friend’s 2 year old son was having an asthma attack and wouldn’t keep mask on (because he couldn’t breathe) - and they turned plane around and had police waiting to escort them off. A 2 year old. pic.twitter.com/Ks2VbnNASW
Pendarvis said she was not refusing to mask up, but her son has never worn the face-covering before. She also informed the crew that her baby would likely fight off the mask, disturbing the rest of the passengers.
The mom believed that Carl had zero understanding and empathy and judged her despite showing their negative COVID-19 tests. Carl reported her to the pilot, who decided to turn the plane around and ask the family to leave.
Netizens on Twitter picked up on the story and sided with the mom, who said that three police officers were waiting for them as they deplaned as if expecting to see a "hysterical anti-masker."
Airline's Face Mask Guidelines
American Airlines reiterated that they follow the directives from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which requires all airline passengers above two years old to wear a face mask inside the plane. Exceptions may be made for people with disabilities, who are required to get in touch with the special assistance team of the airline company within three days before the flight.
People who can't wear a face mask are expected to have proper documentation of their exemption, as verified by a health care provider. They also need to present proof of their negative COVID-19 test.
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