Mother, two-year-old son kicked off flight in Fort Myers while he snacked without mask

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Fort Myers, Fla. – A single mother and her two-year-old son said they were booted from a flight early Saturday morning because her two-year-old was eating without a mask on his face.

Jodi Degyansky and her son hopped on a Southwest Airlines flight Saturday departing from Fort Myers, heading home to Chicago. She said while waiting for takeoff, her son was snacking.

Degyansky said she was then confronted by flight attendants multiple times.

“Flight attendants kept coming over asking if we would wear it the full flight, and I said he would. It definitely was a struggle but something we’re working on,” said Degyansky. 

Jodi said she attempted to keep the mask on her son’s face multiple times and tried everything in her power to be in accordance with the airline’s rules. After another confrontation with Southwest Airlines personal on board the flight, Degyansky and her son were asked to leave. 

“A couple minutes later, we were pulled back into the gate and I was asked to leave the plane accompanied by the manager, the supervisor, the flight attendants, and the pilot,” said Degyansky. 

Southwest Airlines said in a statement they stand by their policy, but they are investigating the incident and have given Degyansky a full refund. 

“If a customer is unable to wear a face-covering for any reason, Southwest regrets that we are unable to transport the individual,” a spokesperson with the airline said. “In those cases, we will issue a full refund and hope to welcome the Customer onboard in the future, if public health guidance regarding face coverings changes.”

Dr. Annette St. Pierre-MacKoul, a pediatrician in Fort Myers, said she agrees that children must keep their face covered, especially in a confined space like an airplane. But she said it’s a task easier said than done with young children. 

“Two years old is the youngest they should be wearing masks because under two years of age it can actually be a choking hazard,” said Dr. St. Pierre-MacKoul. “Between two and three I think it’s really not fair depending on the circumstances of where they were flying and what they were doing.”

Meanwhile, Degyansky and her son were able to find a flight back to Chicago on American Airlines Saturday evening. She said she hopes more concrete guidelines are created by airlines so this situation doesn’t happen again.

“The take away from this is empathy, sympathy what these parents are going through in this time of transition,” said Degyansky. 

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