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Southwest Airways escorts mom and 2-year-old from flight due to masks problem

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Jodi Degyansky and her son Hayes Jarboe were escorted on a Southwest Airlines flight on RSW because the 2-year-old was not wearing his mask to eat some snacks, she said. (Photo: especially for news-press.com)

A woman traveling from Fort Myers to Chicago said she was escorted from her flight on Southwest Airline on Saturday because her 2-year-old son had a bite to eat before takeoff and did not wear his mask.

Jodi Degyansky, 34, wants airlines to have more compassion for parents who have toddlers who may struggle to put their masks on for a long time.

“We’re trying to get used to it but he’s 2,” said Degyansky.

Degyansky said she flew to Fort Myers to visit her family in Naples. On her arrival flight to Southwest Florida International Airport, the flight attendants were much more understanding, she said.

“On the way back, I was surprised that the flight attendants were much stricter,” said Degyansky.

More from our coverage: Lee, Collier under 12 COVID red zones in need of mask mandates, said a White House report

And: Fort Myers votes no to the mask mandate after a loud 5 hour circus meeting

More: The Collier Commission extends the district’s mask mandate until October 22nd

Degyansky said she went on board with her son Hayes and he removed the mask to eat some of the snacks that were served. On several occasions, a flight attendant told her he needed masking, but he was eating, she said. The plane had already left the gate but was returning so staff could get them off the flight. For about 15 minutes, Degyansky argued with the airline staff about her son having his mask back on, but they weren’t listening, she said.

According to CDC guidelines, children 2 years and older should wear a mask over their nose and mouth when it is difficult to create social distance.

“My toddler who literally turned two two weeks ago … I know you have to draw the line, but let’s deal a little with everyone’s individual circumstances,” she said.

Degyansky said a flight attendant told her parents use snacks and fries as an excuse not to put a mask on their toddlers.

But that wasn’t the case with Degyansky, she said. The 34-year-old mother said she supports wearing masks and is aware of how it can stop the spread of COVID-19.

“I’m sure other parents will go through this,” Degyansky said. “I want people to either do their homework before they fly or find an airline that is more lenient.”

Did you know?: Hospital stays for COVID-19 declining in the SWFL are a reflection of the condition

Jodi Degyansky and her son were escorted on a Southwest Airlines flight on RSW because the 2-year-old was not wearing his mask to eat some snacks, she said. (Photo: especially for news-press.com)

Degyansky said it was humiliating to let the plane return to the gate so she could be escorted. According to her, the airline offered to find another flight for her later in the day, but none of them flew direct to Chicago. The next direct flight was on Monday, she said.

Instead, she booked a flight with American Airlines, but it cost her $ 600.

“I just felt like I can’t believe it happened,” said Degyansky. “I had to crawl – how the hell do I get home? What if I didn’t have the resources to buy a $ 600 ticket?”

According to Degyansky, Southwest Airlines said they would refund their money but they didn’t have it as of Sunday.

In a statement to The News-Press, Southwest Airlines said they are investigating the situation to learn more about what happened and to reach out to Degyansky.

However, company policy states that a customer must wear a mask and that this is often given before the flight and during the check-in process.

“If a customer is unable to wear face covering for any reason, Southwest regrets that we cannot transport the person. In those cases, we will issue a full refund and hope to see the customer on board in the future with public health guidance on changes the face covering, “said Ro Hawthorne, an airline spokesman. “Taking care of others with our Southwest Hearts is at the heart of everything we do, which is especially important during this pandemic. We appreciate the continued support and spirit of collaboration between our customers and employees as we look after each other while we try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “

From May to July 2020: COVID-19 in Florida through photos

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