Southwest Airlines kicks family out of plane after the 5-year-old, who has autism, struggles with his mask
Southwest Airlines would not allow an Iowa family on their connecting flight home because their 5-year-old son, who has autism, could not wear his face mask.
Cody and Paige Petek’s young son, who is nonverbal and has autism and sensory processing disorder, struggled to wear his mask and was kicked off their plane from St. Louis to Des Moines. KCCI reported.
So Petek’s one-hour plane ride became almost six hours home in a rental car, according to KCCI.
Southwest Airlines dismissed them claiming to be in compliance with federal laws.
Cody and Paige Petek’s young son, who is nonverbal and has autism and sensory processing disorder, struggled to wear his mask before the family boarded their plane from St. Louis to Des Moines
The Petek family were not kicked off a Southwest Airlines plane because their young son, who has autism, was unable to put on his face mask, KCCI reported.
Paige Petek posted about the incident on Facebook
Vince Hassel, who also flew back to Des Moines, told KCCI that other passengers fought to get the boy and his family on board.
He just didn’t have it and had a seizure. It was absolutely horrible to watch this game, ”Hassel told KCCI.
According to KCCI, the young boy was attacked during the fight.
TSA policy states that people with disabilities who cannot wear a mask because of the disability are exempt from wearing a mask.
Petek’s attorney, Anthony Marchetti Jr., said Southwest Airlines may have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“There are clear guidelines from the transportation department on what the airline should do,” Marchetti told KCCI. “None of that happened here.”
DailyMail.com called Marchetti and Southwest Airlines for comment.
Petek’s attorney said Southwest Airlines may have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act
Although Southwest was not reachable, the airline issued the following statement to KCCI:
While we regret the inconvenience this family experienced while traveling, federal law requires that every person, aged 2 years and older, wear a mask at all times while traveling … To assist travelers with disabilities, there is a scary exception to the mask mandate for specific types of disabilities that prevent a person from wearing a mask.
Southwest Airlines is handling requests for exemption from this mask requirement from passengers with disabilities who cannot wear a mask or who cannot safely wear a mask due to the disability … In this case, a traveler did not wear a face cover prior to boarding and was not exempted from the federal mask mandate.
Southwest employees tried to help the family by encouraging the child’s face covering to be placed over the mouth and nose. When the family was unable to meet the federal requirement, Southwest offered the family a hotel for the night and to rebook them for a flight today so they had more time to comply. Instead, the family chose not to fly and received a full refund.
“It is the responsibility of Southwest employees to enforce federal regulations. As always, we appreciate the spirit of compliance with the federal mask mandate and the continued collaboration between our customers and employees as we work together to support the comfort and well-being of everyone traveling with us during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. ‘
Southwest Airlines has issued a lengthy statement to KCCI stating that they comply with federal laws and ‘there is a scary exception to the mask mandate for specific types of disabilities that prevent a person from wearing a mask’
TSA Mask Policy Regarding Children with Disabilities
Southwest Airlines took another family off their plane in early April because their two-year-old couldn’t keep his face mask on.
That situation ended with a better ending after Erik Harvey’s video about the experience went viral, and pilot James Peck saw it and gave them a free plane trip home.
Southwest Airlines is also fighting a $ 3 million lawsuit from one of its flight attendants, alleging that the airline has done nothing to protect its own employees from the coronavirus.
In the lawsuit filed about two weeks ago, Carol Madden, 69, blamed the company for her husband’s COVID-19-related death after she unknowingly contracted the coronavirus just days after mandatory training in July 2020 and it spread to her husband Bill, who died a month later.
She said there were no hand sanitizers, symptom or temperature checks, health exams, gloves for hands-on training, education about the harms of eye and face touching, and no social distance during the training session, the lawsuit said.