Woman sues Southwest for $10 million for kicking her off flight after she removed mask ‘to drink water’

·1 min read
A Southwest Boeing 737 lands at Los Angeles International Airport (Getty Images)
A Southwest Boeing 737 lands at Los Angeles International Airport (Getty Images)

A US-based woman is suing Southwest Airlines for $10m after she was ejected from one of the airline’s flights for not complying with mask rules.

Florida-based Medora Clai Reading, 68, alleges that she was wrongly kicked off her flight on 7 January 2021 for not wearing a mask - saying that she only removed her mask to periodically drink water.

In a case filed on Wednesday, Reading claimed that she needed to stay hydrated for medical reasons, including a heart condition and low blood sugar, but a “hostile” flight attendant kept demanding that she keep her mask on.

She also claims she offered to show the crew member her medical exemption card but was told, “We don’t care”.

Reading claims she was ordered off the flight as an unmasked pilot “laughed mockingly” at her.

After disembarking, she alleges that airport police who helped her said that these evictions from flights were “happening far too often”, saying “it is usually Southwest.”

Her attorney, Kristina Heuser, claims a “planeload full of witnesses” saw the incident, with some videoing it.

The lawyer accused Southwest of “hostile and abusive” conduct and “Covid insanity”.

End-of-year data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shows that 5,981 unruly passenger incidents were reported by airlines in 2021, with 4,290 of those related to mask-wearing rules.

FAA graphics show that incident numbers shot up between January and February 2021, around the time its “zero tolerance policy” was announced, and have since fluctuated but remained fairly high.

A Southwest Airlines spokesperson said: “We have no immediate comment to offer on this now-pending litigation, as we make an initial review of the complaint.”

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