Southwest removes family over worry boy with disability wouldn’t wear mask, mom says

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A Colorado mom said she and her 3-year-old son were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight over concerns that he wouldn’t wear his mask due to his sensory disorder.

Caroline Scott said her son Orion has a sensory processing disorder that makes it difficult for him to wear a mask and she alerted Southwest Airlines ahead of time, providing notes from his doctor and occupational therapist, KDVR reported.

Scott said they boarded a flight for Fort Lauderdale on Friday and Orion was wearing his mask when an airline employee told them to leave the plane at the captain’s request, according to the station.

“She said you have to get off the plane. The captain doesn’t feel comfortable with your family on it,” Scott said. “We were not de-boarded for behaviors, but preemptively in case he might take off his mask, and he’s also three.”

Scott told 9News that they had to stay at a hotel and leave the next day on another flight that cost almost $2,000.

“There is this flood of emotion around how could they do this to my child,” she said. “He was compliant and on his best behavior and doing so well and they don’t know the backstory of what it took to get to this point just to travel.”

The airline said in a statement to 9News:

“Southwest Airlines regrets any inconvenience this family experienced while traveling, and our Customer Relations Team is contacting the family directly regarding their experience. Southwest Employees are working each day to ensure the requirements of the federal mask mandate with sensitivity during these challenging times. We appreciate the ongoing understanding and cooperation among our Customers and Employees as we work collectively to support the comfort and wellbeing of all who travel with us during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

President Joe Biden issued an executive order Jan. 21 requiring masks to be worn in airports and on planes except for children under the age of 2 and “people with disabilities who cannot wear a mask or cannot safely wear a mask.”

Southwest outlines in its mask policy that “refusing to wear a mask is a violation of federal law and may result in denial of boarding, removal from the aircraft, and/or penalties under federal law.”

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