Parents who made headlines last week after being removed from a United Airlines flight when their two-year-old daughter wouldn’t wear a mask are now traveling with Delta. Not only are the couple flying first class, but they’ve left their daughter at home.
What happened last week?
The Orban family received both sympathy and condemnation last week after social media videos surfaced of the incident. The family was traveling with United from Denver to Newark, and despite both adults wearing masks, their two-year-old daughter Edeline did not want to. The child cried and tried to cover her face as her father attempted to put the masks over her mouth. When he failed, the entire family was forced to disembark. The plane had already left the gate.
While some people supported the family, others said they were not following airline policy, and therefore airline crew members were doing their jobs. It’s still unclear if the family has been banned from flying permanently or just while masks are required on flights.
This week’s drama
But the story doesn’t end there. Edeline’s mother recently took to Instagram to say that the couple has now hopped on a Delta flight to their next destination, Palm Beach. In the post, Eliz wrote;
“And the reason we are able to be on this Delta flight in the boujiest first class is because Bryant Ellis reached out and offered to get us to our next destination AND in first class.”
Eliz also stated that heading to their airport so soon after the incident was traumatizing. The couple did not state why they were heading to palm beach but did confirm that not only were they traveling in first class, but their daughter had stayed at home. The reason for leaving her behind was, “We couldn’t bear to take her through what we went through again.”
While the couple gained lots of support from strangers after the incident, this second announcement gained slightly less support. Several social media users have pointed out Delta would let their daughter fly without a mask.
Delta’s website clearly states that “Children under the age two and young children who cannot maintain a face covering are exempt from the mask requirement.” In an additional statement made to Simple Flying, a Delta spokesperson said, “Delta people are empowered to be flexible while facilitating our mask-wearing requirement with young children for everyone’s safety.” This means that theoretically, their daughter could have flown with them.
The couple also posted a picture to Instagram showing one of United’s own Instagram posts, which contains the words “What is your risk of exposure to COVID-19 on an airplane? Almost non-existent.” Reinforcing mask policies on planes has been difficult since the beginning; not only are policies easily misinterpreted but airlines have had difficulties legally enforcing them. Banning travelers from flying in the future has been a common method to prevent passengers from removing masks mid-flight. But when it comes to children, it is even more complicated.
United and Delta have similar policies that use two years old as the cut-off age. An argument could be made that a child aged two at the time of travel counts as an exemption to the rule. Delta makes an exception for children of over two who cannot keep the mask on, but clearly, United does not.
Either way, this story has certainly divided opinions, with some expressing sympathy for the couple and others supporting the airline. No doubt this new development will cause even more conversations.
What do you think? Should the couple have prepared the child to wear a mask? Was United too strict? What do you think of their decision to leave her behind this time? Let us know in the comments.