Parents Banned From Spirit Airlines After Their 3-Year-Old Wouldn't Wear Mask, They Refused To Deplane, Company Says

A 3-year-old boy's parents are banned from flying on Spirit Airlines after he didn't wear a mask on a flight.

According to the child's mother, Zana Shelton, her son suffers from autism and was unable to keep his mask on before a four-hour flight from Las Vegas to Chicago.

"They just put him on the autism spectrum. He has sensory delay and speech delay," Shelton told Fox 32 News of her son, Cebastian Lewis.

According to Shelton, prior to taking off for their flight to Chicago, she was told by a flight attendant that if her son doesn't wear a mask he is not permitted to board the flight.

"On the way back, she stopped us. She said if he doesn't wear a mask he can't get on the plane," Shelton told Fox 32. "I'm like well he's autistic and we didn't have this problem coming up here."

Shelton told Fox 32 News that she was able to get her son to put his mask on right before takeoff, but "as soon as he sat in the seat, he took it right back off."

"Everybody had to deplane and then the police were called and they put in a police report on him," Shelton added. According to Fox 32 News, Shelton did curse at one of the flight attendants that asked her son to wear a mask, but noted that she was not belligerent.

According to Fox 32 News, just a few days after Shelton, her son and two other family members were removed from their flight, letters arrived in the mail to Shelton's sister and her son stating that the boy was banned from flying on Spirit Airlines.

However, a Spirit Airlines spokesperson told Newsweek that the letter sent to the child was a mistake and that he is not banned from flying with the airline. Instead, the letter was supposed to be sent to the parents because they refused to comply and get off the plane. In a statement sent separately to Newsweek, Spirit Airlines apologized for the error.

The airline currently has a policy in place requiring all travelers over the age of two to wear masks while flying. According to their policy, "any other guest who is unable to wear an appropriate face covering for any reason, including medical, will not be permitted to travel with us at this time."

Spirit Airlines
A Spirit airlines plane is seen at the Las Vegas International Airport (LAS) gate on August 30, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada Daniel Slim/Getty

In addition to Spirit, a number of other major airlines have imposed similar mask requirements for travelers, as an effort to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"In this case, our flight attendants and agents in Las Vegas did their best to assist, but the family refused to cooperate and a family member used profanity toward the flight attendants," Spirit Airlines wrote in a statement sent to Newsweek via email. "It eventually became clear that the minor child would not be able to be in compliance with Spirit's face covering policy. As a result and in the interest of safety, they were asked to deplane but refused to do so. Due to the family's refusal to deplane, the entire aircraft had to deplane."

The statement sent to Newsweek also noted that while the airline does not want to ban people from flying, "in the interest of safety, guests who refuse to comply with our face covering policy will be banned from flying with Spirit at this time."

"Barring people from traveling with Spirit in the future is never the outcome we want, but in the interest of safety, guests who refuse to comply with our face covering policy will be banned from flying with Spirit at this time," the statement said.

Spirit refunded the cost of the family's flight, Fox 32 reported.