A popular airline has come under fire this week after they removed a family and their autistic son from a flight for not wearing a face mask.
Here's the full story...
The incident happened yesterday on Monday, March 15th.
An Arkansas woman has spoken out about her experience of being kicked off a Las Vegas - Arkansas flight with her son and husband.
Speaking to CBS Little Rock affiliate KTVH-TV, Callie Kimball explained that her family had flown with Spirit Airlines to visit family in Las Vegas Friday without any issues.
However, when attempting to board their flight home yesterday, they ran into a problem.
Of course, people were left outraged upon hearing the reason behind the problem...
At both the airline and the parents.
Common sense is such a precious commodity these days.— John M. M. Blake (@johnmmblake) March 16, 2021
Ahhh, that’s sad.— KAV08 (@KA09_08) March 16, 2021
This is the parent’s fault. They should have already had a mask that their son felt comfortable wearing. After all they had a year to make him feel secure. He should NOT have gone through this— Loyalty (@Loyalty23739144) March 16, 2021
Spirit is a trash airline.— Rooney Fred (@EnclavePresEden) March 16, 2021
Anyone who has flown with spirit isn’t surprised. It’s the Walmart of flight companies— Bob Burger (@BobBurg11324144) March 16, 2021
And they should, it’s required for all. If he can’t wear one, his parents shouldn’t travel by air— Glenda Elliott Cain (@glendacain) March 16, 2021
Drive. So tired of this crap. You know the rules. Feel bad for the kid. Parents set this up for a complete disaster.— Bama Fan in New Jersey (@Chorne1976) March 16, 2021
I don’t care how friggin cheap they are, I will never fly their stupid airline.— Kathy Hansen (@kathansen38) March 16, 2021
Worst airline ever— Kerin Thomas Smith (@kerin825) March 16, 2021
Sorry rules are rules. For whatever reason you can’t make your kid wear a mask, then don’t fly, don’t go on vacation, don’t come to Disney, period. Wait until all of this is over, simple as that— Nediaj_08 (@Nediaj08) March 16, 2021
Callie explained that her 4-year-old son, Carter, is non-verbal autistic, and has a medical note from his physician stating that he's exempt from wearing masks...
Because, according to the doctor, whenever he wears a mask "he holds his breath, starts freaking out, and has the potential to harm himself."
She explained that this note was shown to the plane's crew members, but it didn't shift their stance on the issue.
"He has a disability. It's protected under the American Disability Act and they go, 'No, no, no. Autism's not a disability. He has to wear a mask or he has to get off the plane.'"
Carter, who usually loves airplanes, became incredibly distressed upon being removed from the aircraft.
"Kids on the [autism] spectrum, they're usually very obsessed with something," Callie explained. "He is obsessed with airplanes. So he was sitting in his seat, quietly and looking out the window, and this lady was like, 'Get off!'"
Callie said American Airlines agreed to accommodate the family and accept Carter's note, but the family is still waiting on a refund for the Spirit Airline tickets.
"So we're out all of our flights, a thousand bucks and we have a son who's just so distraught now that he like threw all of his airplanes down."
Spirit Airlines quickly told KTVH that a refund had been issued and that the money will take a while to appear on the bank statement.
They also said:
"Our existing policy does not provide for medical exemptions, regardless of diagnosis. Our team members explained this to a family traveling today, but never questioned anyone's medical status in the process. Starting March 19th, 2021, guests with a medical disability who are traveling on or after March 22nd, 2021 can apply for an exemption as provided for in the federal mandate requiring masks in airports and on planes."
Callie said she understands that COVID is real and that people need to take precautions, but explained that it doesn't change the fact that her son has a disability that limits him from mask use.
"I've never in my life... Being the parent of an autistic kid is really hard and I've never in my life experienced that kind of discrimination from someone."