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A woman from Texas says she was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight on Monday after her three-year-old son with autism would not wear a face mask, contrary to the airline COVID-19 policy.
Houston resident Alyssa Sadler says her flight southwest from Midland, Texas to Houston turned into the gate when her son refused to wear the protective mask. Her family, including her one-year-old daughter, were asked to get off the plane.
“When you start your flight because your 3 year old autistic child will not wear a mask,” Sadler wrote on Facebook. “It looks like I’m stuck here in mesland.”
Sadler told local television station KPRC her son has a sensory processing disorder and does not like to touch his face. She said she had a note from the boy’s doctor about his condition.
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“He was throwing an adjustment. He was shouting ‘No, no, no,'” Sadler said. “It was like, the mask will not work, he will not wear a mask.”
Southwest Airlines COVID-19 policy, adopted in July, says all passengers over the age of two must have proper face coverings when traveling. The rule is indicated during online booking, in a pre-travel e-mail and during the checkout process.
“We communicate this policy to all clients at multiple points of contact throughout the trip, so we regret any inconvenience this family has experienced,” Southwest spokesman Dan Landson said in an email to USA TODAY. “If a customer is unable to wear a face mask for any reason, Southwest regrets that we are unable to transport the individual.”
The family will receive a full refund for the flight. All American airlines have a similar mandatory policy for face masks. The Southwest does not allow medical exceptions to this rule.
Sadler said she had no problem wearing a mask on board, but believes there should be exceptions “for children or even adults with disabilities who cannot wear a mask”.
Sadler said her son was not wearing a mask when the family flew to visit her husband, who is working on a temporary job in Midland. A family member will pick up the family and drive them back to Houston by car Thursday, she said.
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