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Southwest kicked an autistic three year old off a flight because he would not keep a mask on.

New Arrival

I was absolutely appalled to read a story about a mother and her two children being kicked off of a Southwest flight because she could not get her autistic three year old to keep his mask on.

 

This is the sort of over-the-top heavy-handed behavior I would expect to see with Delta or United or American, but certainly not with Southwest.

 

I am incredibly disappointed - and disillusioned - with your airline.

 

Gary needs to proactively fix this!

16 REPLIES 16
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Re: Southwest kicked an autistic three year old off a flight because he would not keep a mask on.

Active Member

No, the mother needed to realize this was an inappropriate situation into which to place her child. Wait....she did! She had her doctor's 'excuse' for her kid. The rules are clear, mask. If anything, look at the rates of infection in children with autism. Its because their parents don't want to deal with the outbursts when they are expected to wash their hands.

 

Autism, while the behavior cause du jour, is not a free pass in society for your kid to get to do, not do, or behave however they feel like.

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Re: Southwest kicked an autistic three year old off a flight because he would not keep a mask on.

New Arrival

No, A child with a legal disability can travel by law.  The question is what reasonable accommodations.  Disabled people cannot be denied their places in society.   Southwest’s own website says if there is a disability we were handle at the airport, don’t contact us ahead of time.  If this is their policy, it is illegal and torturous to a 3yr old.

child. The first flight was fine, the 2nd not.

Your post dismisses and marginalizes a handicap.  To strand a mother with 2 small kids is Not ok!! 

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Re: Southwest kicked an autistic three year old off a flight because he would not keep a mask on.

Active Member

Southwest has well-articulated its mask policy. The child also became disruptive. No one is marginalizing anyone. The child was given access and not discriminated against. The child could not comply with the requirement for travel. No one did anything illegal or inappropriate. We need to distinguish that from feeling badly for the family in this circumstance or in general.

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Re: Southwest kicked an autistic three year old off a flight because he would not keep a mask on.

Top Contributor

Maybe you should read some of the hundreds of comments here from people who are "incredibly disappointed" when Southwest doesn't enforce it's mask policy.

 

The policy is "over 2 - no mask, no plane ride" --- no exceptions

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Re: Southwest kicked an autistic three year old off a flight because he would not keep a mask on.

New Arrival

The policy can and should be handled a little smarter and flexibly. Flight crew ought to be able to recognize where a little compassion and understanding should be applied. The mom and her other child both had masks, as did the autistic child, although he would not keep it on. That he could not understand what was being asked of him and why, is heartbreaking. Could have been handled a lot better by the flight crew. As I noted in my initial observation, Gary needs to reach out to this family and apologize.

 

 

 

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Re: Southwest kicked an autistic three year old off a flight because he would not keep a mask on.

Top Contributor

The policy is clear, and is communicated well. The mother should have not put her child into that situation. 

 

It's unsafe for anyone to fly right now not wearing a mask. Why would someone want to risk exposure of their child? 

 

Unfortunately, Southwest has to have a "no exceptions" policy, as previously people were claiming exceptions that they didn't have to avoid wearing a mask. They are the real villains here.

 

It's a difficult situation but I applaud Southwest for enforcing their policy.

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Re: Southwest kicked an autistic three year old off a flight because he would not keep a mask on.

New Arrival

Southwest is not immune to The ADA either.

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Re: Southwest kicked an autistic three year old off a flight because he would not keep a mask on.

Top Contributor

@Mmlowe wrote:

Southwest is not immune to The ADA either.


 

The ADA does not apply to air carriers. The governing legislation is the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), which allows air carriers to refuse service to anyone (including the disabled) when they are unable to transport them safely, or when their transport presents an unsafe situation for other passengers. We are in the midst of a pandemic, and traveling without a mask is currently unsafe. Southwest's actions are clearly legal.

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Re: Southwest kicked an autistic three year old off a flight because he would not keep a mask on.

Active Member

The ADA prevents discrimination and insures access. The child was not told 'you can't fly because you have autism.' Thus, the child was not discriminated against. The ADA does not mean a person with a disability gets whatever they want/need because restrictions aren't agreeable to them. Now, the outcome might be different in the classroom where IDEA comes into play. But ADA is not IDEA. The ADA doesn't apply to air travel in any case.