A Hasidic Jewish family was booted from a Frontier Airlines flight Sunday night, with passengers claiming that the decision was made due to a child under two-years-old who was not wearing a face mask.
The incident occurred aboard flight 2878, which was scheduled to depart from Miami International Airport to LaGuardia Airport in New York City at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Footage of the incident, posted on Twitter by the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council, shows the family of the one-year-old and a group of their relatives making their way off the plane.
Frontier Airlines said in a statement late Sunday night that several adult “members of a large group” refused to wear face masks and that local law enforcement was called to assist in the situation.
“Multiple people, including several adults, were asked repeatedly to wear their masks and refused to do so,” as the flight was preparing for departure, the airline said. “Based on the continued refusal to comply with the federal mask mandate, refusal to disembark the aircraft and aggression towards the flight crew, local law enforcement was engaged.”
“Repeated requests to comply with federal law necessitated their removal from the flight. The issue did not stem from a child under 2,” Frontier Airlines added in a tweet.
Fly Frontier’s face mask policy states that “face coverings are not required for children under the age of 2.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends masks only for children two years of age and older.
All the adults in the group deplaning appear to be wearing face masks, and a female passenger said of the Hasidic family that she “saw them all coming on board with masks.”
A fellow passenger, Hershey Greenbaum, told the New York Post that the family did in fact appear to be ejected over the one-year-old not wearing a mask and said about 15 police officers responded to the incident.
“All the people on the plane were getting really mad and rowdy because, what are you going to do? It’s an 18-month old baby,” Greenbaum said of the fellow passengers.
“Most of them were saying ‘Don’t let them do this to you,’” he added. “Most of the people were against it, Jewish or not Jewish, why are you picking on an 18-month-old kid?”
In several of the videos, the baby’s mother can be heard saying that she took a face mask off the baby to feed him, after which the baby refused to put the mask back on.
“This is the baby that’s one year old,” the child’s father explains in the video footage.
A man identified as Orthodox Jewish by OJPAC stood up for the family and shouted at the airline staff for kicking them off, at which point the airline ordered all passengers to deplane and the flight was canceled.
“Because the baby’s not wearing a mask?” the man can be seen asking the family incredulously.
“This is an anti-Semitic act!” he calls out.
“You’re going to pay the consequences!” one passenger is heard saying. “I’m having it on tape. This is going to go all over the news.”
“What are you accomplishing?” a woman calls out.
“This is Nazi Germany!” another passenger shouts.
According to videos posted by OJPAC, passengers said that the applause heard on camera as the family leaves the plane was from airline staff. Three passengers said that they saw staff members high-fiving each other after the family was forced to leave, and two passengers reported that they heard staff cheering, “We did it.”
“I saw them high-fiving each other and saying, a job well done to those Jews,” said a passenger who claims he was ordered off the plane because he was taking videos.