Mom & Son, 2, Allegedly Booted From A Southwest Flight After Toddler Ate Snack Without A Mask

Mom & Son, 2, Allegedly Booted From A Southwest Flight After Toddler Ate Snack Without A Mask

Jodi Degyansky was asked multiple times to get her son to wear a mask. Despite allegedly assuring that he will after eating they were asked to leave.

Image Source: Getty Images/Jim Sugar (Representative)

A single mother, who was traveling from Fort Myers to Chicago along with her toddler, says she was allegedly kicked out of a Southwest Airlines flight because her 2-year-old was eating his snack without a mask on. Jodi Degyansky had traveled at least five times since commercial airlines began requiring their passengers to wear a mask, but Saturday's incident left her "super humiliated." The 34-year-old and her son Hayes was traveling back home after visiting family in Florida that day when their trip was canceled. According to the News-Press, Degyansky had removed the toddler's mask so that he could consume some of the snacks that had been served.


Although the flight attendants had confronted her multiple times about covering her son's face with a mask, she assured them that Hayes would be wearing one for the entirety of the flight but currently needed to eat a little. "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," Degyansky told WBBH-TV. By then Flight 2420 had already departed from the gate and was taxiing onto the runway when it was abruptly asked to turn around and Degyansky was escorted out along with her son.


Speaking to CNN, she described how one flight attendant told her that other families of small kids had ignored Southwest's policy and continued eating during the entire flight. By then, Hayes had voluntarily worn his mask, claims Degyansky. She had done everything in her power to put on her son's mask multiple times but despite a confrontation with Southwest Airlines personal, which lasted 15 minutes, they didn't listen to the mom. "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," recalled the mother.


Per CDC guidelines, kids aged 2 and above are required to wear a mask covering their nose and mouth if it is tough to social distance. Southwest's policy only exempts kids younger than the age of 2 from wearing a face-covering mask on board a flight and in the airport. "My toddler who literally turned 2 two weeks ago," said Degyansky, who agrees with the safety protocols but is asking airlines to be more compassionate towards parents with toddlers. "I know you have to draw the line but let's be a little compassionate with everyone's individual circumstances," she added. "I'm sure other parents are going through this. I want people to either do their homework before they choose to fly or find an airline that has more leniency." 


Explaining the contrast between Southwest Airlines and the one she and her son had taken while arriving at Southwest Florida International Airport, she said the flight attendants there were "much more" understanding. However, "On the way back I was surprised the flight attendants were much stricter," she said. Apparently the airlines offered to find another flight for Degyansky and Hayes but none of them were direct flights to Chicago. She would've had to wait until Monday to get one, so she booked a flight on American Airlines instead which cost Degyansky a hefty $600. "I just felt like I can't believe it happened. I was left scrambling — how the hell am I going to get home? What if I didn’t have the resources to buy a $600 ticket?" she said.


Per to WBBH-TV, Southwest Airlines said they have refunded the amount to Degyansky and that they stand by their policy. However, they assured that an investigation into the incident had been launched. "If a customer is unable to wear a face-covering for any reason, Southwest regrets that we are unable to transport the individual," said a spokesperson for Southwest. "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." While Dr. Annette St. Pierre-MacKoul agrees that children should keep their face covered especially in confined spaces like an airplane, she said that it is easier said than done.


"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 the pediatrician in Fort Myers. "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." Degyansky hopes that airlines roll out more detailed guidelines so no one is faced with such situations. "The take away from this is empathy, sympathy what these parents are going through in this time of transition," she said. 


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