Bay Area family leaves Southwest flight after confrontation over 3-year-old not wearing mask

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – A Bay Area family is vowing never to fly Southwest Airlines again after they had to exit a flight because their 3-year-old son would not wear a mask.  

“They’re a pretty big airline in the Bay Area but I am going to do all I can to not get another one of their flights and potentially go through another situation like this,” Eric Hansen said. 

Bay Area resident Eric Hansen says Southwest Airlines has lost his business after he and his family had to exit a San Jose-bound plane when he couldn’t get his 3-year-old son to put his mask on before take-off.  

He says two flight attendants and a gate agent treated them like criminals and when they feared police were being called to arrest them, they voluntarily got off the flight and had to spend an extra night in Las Vegas without any of their checked luggage. 

“They should have given us more time, maybe walked away and said we will give you five or 10 minutes, but their flight was late so I think they were trying to make time they just wanted us off the plane and they didn’t give us any time to talk him through it and try to get him to put it on,” Hansen said. 

Hansen complained to Southwest management which sent him an email apologizing for his experience but indicating under the CDC’s “Federal mask mandate, all customers (age 2 or over) are required to wear a mask.  If the customer does not comply with crew member instructions, we may refuse transportation.” 

But Hansen finds the policy is inconsistently enforced since his son didn’t wear a mask on the Southwest flight to Las Vegas or the rebooked Southwest flight back to San Jose the next day.

“If it’s not taken that seriously by the airline they shouldn’t be enforcing it on anybody and if they are taking it seriously they should be enforcing it on everybody all the time and that’s where the inconsistency is,” Hansen said. 

Travelers at SFO Friday acknowledged it can be difficult when flying with kids, but those we talked to supported the mask policy.

“I don’t have a problem with that at all. We are still in that transition period, we are not out of the woods yet,” one traveler said. 

“As far as people being removed from plane that aren’t wearing them, that’s great because the more people we can keep safe the better,” another said.  

The FAA says they have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to passengers not complying with flight attendants, they also tell KRON4 that since January 1st, they have received more than 2,600 reports about passengers not complying with mask mandates.

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