Family Says Pilot Removed 3-Year-Old Who Was Cooperating With Mask Requirement Over Sensory Processing Disorder

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You’ve heard of families being removed from airplanes over small children who refused to comply with mask requirements, but now a family says a Southwest Airlines pilot asked them to disembark even though their toddler was cooperatively tolerating his mask.

Caroline Scott says that because her son has sensory processing disorder, she and her husband made sure to clear this potential challenge to his compliance with the airline before boarding a flight to visit her 94-year-old grandmother in Florida.

The Colorado mom told 9News that she called Southwest Airlines’ customer service line to explain that her small son’s disorder might cause him to become overwhelmed with the mask and was equipped with letters from his occupational therapist and pediatrician confirming the family could help the boy cope if he had any issues.

However, when they were boarding the plane the crew told them it could, in fact, be an issue.

“When we actually got to our flight we were told there was an issue and they had to ask a supervisor to get the captain’s permission for us to board, even though when I had called they said there would be no issues,” Scott said.

The captain, however, had reservations. Although Scott and her husband assured the flight crew the boy would keep his mask on for the duration of the flight, a crew member returned after they’d taken their seats and told them the captain had requested they deplane because he “felt uncomfortable” with the boy on board.

“There is this flood of emotion around how could they do this to my child,” the infuriated mother 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.”

While Southwest refunded the family their money, they were forced to pay $2,000 for an early flight the next day and stay in a nearby hotel.

After all this, an experience that would no doubt be taxing on any 3-year-old much less one with SPD, Scott says her son did fine on the flight the next day.

“Southwest Airlines regrets any inconvenience this family experienced while traveling, and our Customer Relations Team is contacting the family directly regarding their experience,” the airline told 9NEWS in a statement.

“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.”

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