American Airlines is at the center of controversy once again, this time after a flight attendant kicked a two-year-old and his family off the plane because he was not wearing a mask during an apparent asthma attack.
National File reports that Amanda Pendarvis, her two-year-old son Waylon, and her mother were booted off AA Flight 1284 on Monday. The on-board crew had the pilot turn the plane around and return to its gate at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, where uniformed police officers were waiting to escort the family out.
On Tuesday, a Twitter account posted screenshots from Pendarvis’ Instagram story that describe the “humiliating” and “traumatizing” incident. Pendarvis said her son Waylon is asthmatic and has never worn a mask before. She said he was “hyperventilating” during a possible asthma attack when a flight attendant named Carl approached and told her he needed to wear a mask.
Pendarvis tried getting Waylon to wear one, but to no avail. She also showed Carl his negative COVID test and told him he’s asthmatic. Carl “did not care,” however, for he hopped on the intercom to “apologize for the delay” and announce that he was dealing with a “non-compliant traveler.”
“I was not refusing a mask, nor did I even say I wouldn’t try to keep a mask on my son,” Pendarvis said. “We were escorted off the plane as I was holding a mask over his little face. I genuinely don’t have words.”
Partial footage of the incident from Pendarvis’ Instagram was posted to Twitter by National File reporter Jack Hadfield.
A mother has alleged that an American Airlines flight attendant kicked her and her son off of a flight because the two-year-old could not wear a mask properly during an asthma attack.
— Jack Hadfield 👍🇬🇧 (@JackHadders) September 14, 2021
“My son has never worn a mask before, he was tired and fidgety and I couldn’t get him to keep the mask on. It escalated to the point he was covered in sweat, hysterical, and kept screaming ‘nooo, mama, NO!!!!!’ and he ripped a total of 3 different masks off of his face. At this point I’m literally just holding a broken mask over his face because I literally don’t know what else to do. He now is having difficulty breathing,” Pendarvis wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday along with videos of the incident.
In a statement to National File, American Airlines acknowledged and appeared to confirm the truth of Pendarvis’ account, though without mentioning Waylon’s asthma.
“Initial reports indicate the party refused to comply with crew member instructions to remain seated and wear a face mask securely over their nose and mouth,” the statement read in part.
After leaving the plane, the statement continued, Pendarvis and her family were rebooked without issue on the next scheduled flight to Colorado Springs Airport. Pendarvis confirmed on Instagram that she, Waylon, and her mother were “finally in peaceful Colorado with [her] in-laws.”
This summer has been one of constant controversy across the airline industry. Air travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels, and multiple airlines have struggled with understaffing, increased flight cancellations, and spikes in the number of unruly passengers.
The TSA announced in August that masks will continue to be required on all commercial flights through at least Jan. 18, 2022. The agency has also doubled the fines for travelers refusing to wear a mask. First-time offenders face a minimum $500 fine, while second-time offenders face a maximum of $3,000.
“If you break the rules, be prepared to pay — and by the way, show some respect,” President Joe Biden admonished last Thursday.