Airline Denies Colorado Family Boarding Over Kid Not Wearing Mask
A Colorado family who was trying to return from a wedding in Utah was denied boarding on a Southwest Airlines flight due to their child's resistance to wear a mask. The child is disabled.
According to Denver 7, Trent Smitley, 30, his wife Andi, 27, and their 7-year-old son Kingston, who has the mental capacity of a 1-year-old, were returning to Denver after having already flown to Salt Lake City on Southwest a couple of days earlier, when they were not allowed to board the plane.
Kingston, who has epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and malformation of the brain, has trouble wearing a mask.
After having no problems on their flight to Salt Lake City a couple of days earlier, when they simply let the employees at check-in and the gate attendant their situation, everyone was allowed on, boarded and there were no issues at any time, but the return flight was a different story.
The gate agent for that return flight to Denver told the family that a flight attendant had an issue about Kingston flying without a mask and the crew was checking with corporate. They were soon told that they wouldn’t be allowed to board.
Southwest refunded the cost of the tickets at the gate. The couple, who had to be back in Colorado for work and school, are both certified nurse assistants. They rented a vehicle at the airport in Salt Lake and started driving.
Between the car rental, hotel room they had to stay in, and gas, it cost them about $1000. Throw in the fact that they had to race against some snowstorms that were hitting the mountains...it made for quite the journey.
Southwest Airlines on Wednesday released a statement about the Smitley family being removed from their flight.
“The federal law requires each person, 2 years of age and older, to wear a mask at all times throughout the travel journey. To support 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. This exemption process is detailed on our website under ‘Mask Exemptions’ and requires an application and documentation to be submitted prior to travel for review and approval,” the statement said. “In this case, the family did not have an exemption to the federal mask mandate when traveling, and we regret any inconvenience they experienced during their journey. As always, we encourage travelers to review the mandatory policies and tools for support, such as the mask exemption option, prior to travel to foster a predictable travel experience.”