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19-Month-Old Won't Wear Mask, Flight Ends Up Canceled

WestJet says the issue was actually with her older sister, 3
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2020 12:52 AM CDT

(Newser) – A father says he and his family were booted from a flight—which ultimately ended up canceled—because his 19-month-old wouldn't wear a mask. While waiting for the WestJet flight from Calgary to Toronto to take off Tuesday, Safwan Choudhry's older daughter, who is 3, was eating a snack. Flight attendants asked Choudhry to put masks on both her and the younger girl; Choudhry asked if the 3-year-old could finish her snack first and was told no. He ultimately got her to wear a mask, "but my younger one had a very difficult time, she was basically hysterical," he tells the BBC. He later discovered that under Canadian transportation law, children under the age of 2 are not required to wear a mask. Choudhry says the 19-month-old got so upset she vomited. Police came on board, all passengers were made to disembark, and eventually the flight was canceled.

Though it was rebooked for the following day, Choudhry says he and his family have not been offered another flight to Toronto. No charges were filed, and Choudhry says most of the passengers backed his family. Indeed, passengers can be heard heckling the crew in video of the incident, and police say the crew felt unsafe and thus decided to scrap the flight entirely. WestJet's official stance is that it was the 3-year-old who wouldn't wear a mask, but video shows her wearing one, and an officer confirms that when police arrived she had one on. "I was so shocked, the parents never raised their voices, they never got angry with the attendants, they were just trying to reason with them," one fellow passenger, who worried the family may have been targeted due to their race or religion, tells the CBC. WestJet also says they were flying on employee travel passes and such guests are held to a higher behavior standard; the airline subsequently revoked travel privileges for both the Choudhry family and the employee whose passes they were using, the Calgary Herald reports. (Read more face masks stories.)

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