Southwest Airlines flight attendants allegedly kicked a single mother and her 2-year-old son off of a flight recently after the toddler ate snacks before takeoff without wearing a mask.
Jodi Degyansky, 34, and her son, Hayes, were traveling back home to Chicago from Fort Myers after visiting family in Florida when their trip was canceled due to the mask-less snacking, the News-Press reported Sunday.
According to Degyansky, the plane had already left the gate and was taxiing to the runway when it was abruptly ordered to turn around.
Degyansky had removed her son's mask so that the toddler could eat some of the snacks that had been served. When flight attendants confronted her on multiple occasions, she told them that her son would be wearing a mask for the full flight but was currently eating. Then the plane turned around and she was asked to leave.
"A couple minutes later, we were pulled back into the gate and I was asked to leave the plane accompanied by the manager, the supervisor, the flight attendants, and the pilot," Degyansky told WBBH-TV.
She told the News-Press that she argued with airline personnel for about 15 minutes because, at that point, her son had his mask back on, but they didn't listen.
Mother, two-year-old son kicked off flight in Fort Myers while he snacked without mask youtu.be
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend that children 2 years and older should wear a mask over their nose and mouth if it's difficult to social distance.
"My toddler who literally turned 2 two weeks ago," she said. "I know you have to draw the line but let's be a little compassionate with everyone's individual circumstances."
Degyansky noted that while she agrees with the health and safety protocols, there ought to be more tolerance granted for parents and their young children.
"I'm sure other parents are going through this," she said. "I want people to either do their homework before they choose to fly or find an airline that has more leniency."
Accoridng to Degyansky, Southwest offered to find her another flight, but there were no direct flights to Chicago until Monday, so she booked an American Airlines flight for $600 instead. Southwest then said it would give her a full refund.
"I just felt like I can't believe it happened," Degyansky said. "I was left scrambling — how the hell am I going to get home? What if I didn't have the resources to buy a $600 ticket?"
In a statement to the News-Press, Southwest spokesperson Ro Hawthorne said: "If a Customer is unable to wear a face covering for any reason, Southwest regrets that we are unable to transport the individual. In those cases, we will issue a full refund and hope to welcome the Customer onboard in the future, if public health guidance regarding face coverings changes."