A young family were taking a flight from Denver to Newark with United Airlines this weekend but ended up being deplaned after their two-year-old refused to wear a mask. Mother Eliz Orban expressed disbelief that such young children are expected to mask up. Others have come down on the side of the airline, saying the crew were just doing their job.
Noncompliance leads to rapid deplaning
The Orban family had been traveling from Denver to Newark this weekend, and had chosen to fly with United Airlines. Eliz Orban and her husband boarded the plane with toddler girl Edeline, aged two. Both Eliz and her husband were masked up, but the two-year-old was having some trouble coming to terms with covering her face.
It appears the couple tried hard to apply a mask, but Edeline was uncooperative. She repeatedly covered her face with her hands to stop her parents from placing the mask on her face. At one point, her father, in a bid to control the little girl’s crying, had her laid across his lap, holding a cloth over her mouth to try to comply.
So, it was not for the lack of trying on behalf of the family, but in terms of the policies of the airline, zero tolerance means no exceptions. The family were removed from the aircraft, prompting the mum to post the tearful video below:
Today we got kicked off of a United flight going from Denver to Newark because our 2yo would not “comply” and keep her mask on. Go see the full IGTV on my Instagram @elizfulop 😷 pic.twitter.com/KXCICsBSMj
— Eliz Orban (@elizfulop) December 12, 2020
Eliz Orban vocalized her confusion in the video, saying,
“I am still sitting here in confusion, disbelief, disgust and humiliation … We were asked to leave the plane after it had rolled out, and they had to bring it back to the gate, because our two-year-old daughter would not comply and keep her mask on.
“What blows my mind even more is that the WHO recommends against face masks for kids under the age of five.”
The family claims they have been banned from flying with United. There is conflicting information about the reason for this ban and the length of it. United says that people who refuse to comply with its mask policy will be banned until masks are no longer required. But the Orban family say they have been ‘banned forever’.
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Was United wrong to deplane these passengers?
Since late July, United has extended its mask policy to only exclude children under the age of two. It removed any exceptions from the policy, meaning that those unable to wear a mask simply should not fly. It’s reflective of the policies at all the major US airlines.
While from the outside looking in, removing a family because of a two-year-old’s unwillingness to mask up seems extreme, it’s not a secret that this will be required on the flight. United’s terms of carriage clearly state that this is the case, and it’s also something the family would have had to agree to at check-in.
What Mrs Orban says about WHO guidelines is true – the health organization doesn’t recommend masks for under-fives. However, airline policy is different, and they should have been aware before deciding to take the trip.
Perhaps they could have practiced mask-wearing at home. Or perhaps, given New York’s current quarantine status, not taking the trip at all might have been an option.
In a statement to Sun Online, United Airlines said,
“The health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, which is why we have a multi-layered set of policies, including mandating that everyone onboard two and older wears a mask.
“These procedures are not only backed by guidance from the CDC and our partners at the Cleveland Clinic, but they’re also consistent across every major airline.
“We are investigating this specific incident and have made contact with the family. We also refunded their tickets and returned their car seat and bags.”
What do you think? Was United right to remove the family? Let us know in the comments.