A Canadian flight (West Jet ) was canceled and police were called because a child was not wearing a mask. Safwan Choudhry says WestJet wanted her 19-month-old daughter to wear a mask, but the girl wouldn’t stop crying.
The airline says the problem wasn’t with the child, who is less than the required age to wear a mask, but with Choudhry’s three-year-old son. Flight 652 Tuesday morning from Calgary to Toronto was halted and all passengers ordered to disembark.
“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, much less experienced,” Choudhry told the BBC. Choudhry told the BBC that her eldest daughter, who is three, was having a snack before takeoff when flight attendants approached and asked their two children to wear a mask. He said he and his wife were masked.
She said she asked if her daughter could finish her snack, but they said they had a “zero-tolerance policy” and they wouldn’t close the plane door without her wearing a mask. Choudhry said he agreed to wear one right away. “For most kids, you have to make it easy for them, which is a keyword for me to take out the iPad,” he told the BBC.
He says the three-year-old put on a mask after complaining a little. “But my youngest daughter had a really hard time, she was basically hysterical.”
Mr. Choudhry says she was so angry she threw up.
She says WestJet was aggressive and told them that since her youngest daughter wasn’t wearing a mask and was too angry to wear it, the whole family would have to leave. He says he was told that if they didn’t get out they could be arrested, charged and sentenced to prison.
Choudhry says he and his wife were respectful. Eventually they decided to leave. She later learned that under Canadian transportation policy, only children over the age of two are required to wear a mask, and therefore her 19-month-old son did not have to wear one.
What does WestJet say? WestJet denies the three-year-old wore a mask.
The airline said in a statement: “Due to the parents’ failure to comply with a mask on their eldest child who is over two years old, our crew has informed adults of the regulations we must follow.
“Our crew requested the presence of the authorities after the guests refused to comply with Transport Canada’s provisional order and subsequently refused to disembark the plane.”
A video shot on Choudhry’s phone shows the eldest daughter wearing a mask on the plane after the police arrived on board.
He says that although some passengers were very upset with their family, the people on the plane were “overwhelmingly” supportive. Many spoke in defense of the family, while the youngest cried, he says.
That was when the flight crew called the police, he says. They got off the plane and eventually the flight was canceled and booked for the next day.
“Due to the rapid escalation of the situation on board, our crew felt uncomfortable operating and the flight was subsequently canceled,” WestJet said.
In a video, a police officer explains to them that while the mask problem was “solved” with the major, “the behavior of the other passengers left the rest of the crew feeling insecure.” Some passengers in the video of the incident can be heard as they interrupt the police and crew. The officer then confirms that when he arrived, the eldest son was wearing a mask.
The police have not filed a complaint.