Spirit Airlines Disputes Viral Story of Family Asked to Leave Plane Over Maskless 2-Year-Old

Video accounts on Twitter claim that a family of four flying from Orlando to Atlantic City on Monday was asked to exit the plane after their 2-year-old refused to put on a face mask. However, Spirit Airlines has disputed those claims.

A spokesperson for the airline told Newsweek that on two separate occasions prior to departure, the parents were not wearing their masks correctly, which was why they were asked by cabin crew to disembark.

A video posted to Twitter shows the toddler sitting in her pregnant mother's lap while eating, when a flight attendant tells the mom that they will have to deplane.

"I told you. Non-compliance, will have to get off," the attendant is heard saying in the video. "I didn't want to do this."

When the father asks the attendant why they're being told to get off the plane, the attendant says, "Non-compliance with the masks."

NEW - Family is being thrown off a Spirit Airlines flight from Orlando to NY because their two-year-old child is eating without a mask. @disclosetv @disclosetv_chat pic.twitter.com/WDOXXbuL9x

— Teresa 🗣 “Joe, you know Trump won.” (@thorsome2) April 5, 2021

The parents, who are wearing masks, point out that they are donning face coverings and ask who the attendant is referring to. The attendant then points to the child. When the mom asks, "The baby?" the attendant nods and says yes.

Other passengers chime in, saying that there are other children on the plane not wearing masks.

Under Spirit Airlines' face mask policy, children under the age of two are exempt from wearing a mask.

"Guests who choose not to comply with our face covering requirement will lose future flight privileges with Spirit," the policy reads.

The spokesperson said while the video makes it seem like the family was being asked to leave because of the child, the decision was made in response to the parents' actions.

In the same video, the mother is heard informing another passenger that the child turned 2 a month ago.

The attendant tells the family, "Exit out of the aircraft, or I'll have to deplane the aircraft and call the police."

When the father refuses to get off the plane, the attendant informs them she is contacting the authorities.

Spirit Airlines said that after the family talked to a supervisor and agreed to comply with the company's face mask policy, they left on the same flight they intended to go on.

Spirit Plane
Spirit Airlines Airbus A319-132 takes off from Los Angeles international Airport on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. A family was asked to deplane a Spirit aircraft when their 2-year-old child failed to wear a mask on board. AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

In another video taken on the plane and shared by Lakewood News Network, the mom tells the person filming, "Seven months pregnant with a special-needs kid on a flight, trying to get [a mask] on her. She's refusing to keep it on but we'll all have to be kicked off."

"Baby that just turned 2," the dad later says. "I could have got her a free seat and wrote that she's not 2—she just turned 2—but I paid for her seat because I'm honest."

HAPPENING NOW: @SpiritAirlines forces entire flight leaving Orlando, en route to Atlantic City, to deplane after a 2 years 1 month old child takes her mask off. The family has a special needs child with them as well. pic.twitter.com/6HP9oC54aO

— Lakewood News Network (@LakewoodNewsNet) April 5, 2021

The family was apparently traveling with an older child as well, whom the parents say has special needs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children 2 years of age and older should wear a mask when in public and when around people they don't live with.

"CDC recognizes that wearing masks may not be possible in every situation or for some people," the CDC's website reads. "Correct and consistent use of masks may be challenging for some children, such as children with certain disabilities, including cognitive, intellectual, developmental, sensory and behavioral disorders."

The videos drew plenty of attention online, and Spirit Airlines was widely criticized on social media.

So packing a plane full of people is fine but not allowing a child to eat without a mask on? Are we serious? I've been on a few Spirit Airlines flights myself and most of gone on without a hitch.

— AverageGuido (@AverageGuido) April 5, 2021

Photos and videos shared on Twitter also claimed that rather than escort the family off the flight, officials removed another flight attendant instead. Users alleged that the flight attendant who left the plane was the one who flagged the family's non-compliance to begin with.

However, Spirit Airlines told Newsweek that this did not happen and that while there are videos of the attendant and police walking in the same direction, the attendant was leaving because they were swapped out in a staffing decision after the flight's two-hour delay.

In a statement shared with Newsweek, Orlando police confirmed that no one on the flight was escorted off by officers.

"Just before noon today, our officers were called to a general disturbance involving a Spirit Airlines flight scheduled to depart from the Orlando International Airport," a police spokesperson wrote. "Upon arrival, officers saw that the flight was in the middle of de-boarding. Our officers stood by, while Spirit Airlines resolved the issue."

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