A Canadian airline says it canceled a flight from Calgary to Toronto because a 3-year-old did not wear a mask.
However, passenger Safwan Choudhry disputes that allegation by WestJet, saying that airline staff was trying to force his 19-month-old daughter to wear a mask.
He claimed that his 3-year-old daughter, whom the airline said did not wear a mask, did in fact have one on during the Tuesday incident, according to CBC News.
The airline was adamant that the older child did not wear a mask and that the family refused to cooperate with its rules.
“WestJet would like to clarify that there were two children, and we were not requiring the infant to wear a mask, but did require the other child, who is over age two, to wear one,” WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart said.
In an updated statement, WestJet said the parents did not put a mask on the older child.
“Our crew requested the presence of the authorities after the guests refused to comply with Transport Canada’s interim order and subsequently refused to deplane the aircraft,” the airline said.
“Due to the rapid escalation of the situation on board, our crew felt uncomfortable to operate and the flight was subsequently cancelled.”
Choudry said the airline was at fault.
“It started with my toddler and once we got a mask on her, they turned to my 19-month-old infant and said, ‘Every person on the plane has to wear a mask or the plane can’t take off,'” he said.
The parents tried and failed to put a mask on the 19-month-old, he said.
“Of course, being desperate to get home, we — despite there not being such a policy — opted to comply until she was crying hysterically, with the crew watching over us, until she threw up, at which point they told us you all need to get off the plane,” he said.
“Within 10 minutes, to everyone’s shock, multiple police officers boarded the plane and said, ‘We’ve been asked by the crew to formally remove you guys so either come with us or it will be handcuffs’,” he told CTV News.
Choudry said he received both negative reactions and support from passengers.
“Some, obviously, took the anger out on us — yelled out some racial slurs, some Islamophobic slurs — while the majority of the passengers were very cooperative and supportive and said, ‘Be strong,'” he said.
Passenger Marian Nur, who said she was a witness, told CBC News that the family did nothing wrong.
“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,” she said, calling the airline’s response “very unnecessary.”
“This was about a toddler not wearing a mask, and you felt the need to deboard the entire plane? There was a woman on the plane trying to get home to her mother on her deathbed. It was just frustrating, very, very upsetting,” Nur said.
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