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A Texas woman said she was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight on Monday after her three-year-old son had autism without a mask, in violation of the airline’s COVID-19 policy.
Houston resident Alyssa Sadler said her Southwest flight from Midland, Texas to Houston returned to the gate when her son refused to wear a protective mask. Her family, including her one-year-old daughter, was asked to get off the plane.
“When you get kicked out of a flight because your 3-year-old autistic kid won’t wear a mask,” Sadler wrote on Facebook. “Looks like I’m stuck here in the midlands.”
Sadler told local broadcaster KPRC her son has a sensory disorder and doesn’t like to be touched in the face. She said she had a note from the boy’s doctor about his condition.
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Sadler said: “He’s going into rage. He screams ‘No, no, no'”. “Like, the mask won’t work, he won’t wear the mask.”
Southwest Airlines policy COVID-19, enacted in July, mandates that all passengers over two years of age must have an appropriate face scarf when traveling. Rules are outlined during the online booking, in e-mail before the trip and during check-in.
“We communicate this policy to all customers at multiple touch points throughout the travel itinerary, so we regret any inconvenience this family experienced,” said the spokesperson. of Southwest, Dan Landson said by email to USA TODAY. “If a customer is unable to wear a veil for any reason, Southwest is sorry that we cannot transport that individual.”
The family will be reimbursed for the full cost of the flight. All US airlines have a similar mandatory mask policy. Southwest does not allow a medical waiver from this rule.
Sadler said she had no problem wearing the mask on board, but believes there should be exceptions “for children or even disabled adults who cannot wear a mask.”
Sadler said her son did not wear a mask when the family flew to visit her husband, who is working on a temporary job in Midland. A family member will pick up the family and bring them back to Houston by car on Thursday, she said.
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