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Family Kicked Off Flight After Child With Autism Struggles With Face Mask

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Family Kicked Off Flight After Child With Autism Struggles With Face Mask

A family in the US has decided to drive nearly six hours to their destination after being kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for a face mask violation.

Cody and Paige Petek were taking their two children home to Des Moines when they were turned away from their connecting flight in St. Louis.

The Petek's five-year-old son, who has non-verbal autism and has a sensory processing disorder, had difficulty putting his face mask on.

According to broadcaster KCCI, several passengers tried to convince staff to let the family on, however, they stood firm.

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Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Dr. Vince Hassel told the news outlet: "He just wasn't having it and throwing a fit. Just to watch this play out was absolutely horrible."

As a result, Southwest Airlines staff were forced to turn them away and have since explained they were just following the rules.

The airline issued a statement to KCCI, which said: "While we regret any inconvenience this family experienced while traveling, federal law requires each person, 2 years of age and older, to wear a mask at all times throughout the travel journey.

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"To assist travelers with disabilities, there is a narrow exception to the mask mandate for specific types of disabilities that prevent a person from wearing a mask.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

"Southwest Airlines considers applications for exemptions from this mask requirement from passengers with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or who cannot safely wear a mask because of the disability.

"In this case, a traveler was not wearing a face covering prior to boarding and did not have an exemption to the federal mask mandate. Southwest Employees tried to assist the family by encouraging the child's face covering be placed over the mouth and nose.

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"Once the family was unable to meet the federal requirement, Southwest offered the family a hotel for the night and to rebook them on a flight today to allow them additional time to comply."

Southwest says the Patek family decided not to fly and chose to complete the near six hour journey by car. They were granted a full refund.

The airline added that their mask rule is a federally mandated law and it helps support 'the comfort and wellbeing of all who travel with us during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic'.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: News, Face Mask

Stewart Perrie
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