A mother of a two-year-old girl posted a video to Instagram on Friday of a gate agent for United Airlines asking her, her daughter, and her husband to leave a flight they had boarded traveling from Colorado to Newark, New Jersey, because the little girl wouldn’t put a mask on.
Eliz Orban wrote on Instagram:
This just happened 7 hours ago and I am still sitting here in confusion, disbelief, disgust and humiliation. My husband grew up New Jersey, I’ve lived there twice before we got married, and we had spent a long time there together. It’s truly our second home. A tradition that we have is to go see the Rockefeller tree every year. It’s a tradition we also wanted our 2-year-old daughter to experience.
Some of our closest friends/family that had grown up with (including his childhood best friend who had moved to Slovakia years ago and hasn’t even met our daughter, and some of our other friends we call family flying in from Cleveland) were going to be there tonight and tomorrow so we can all spend time together for the first time in years.
We were very excited about this weekend trip to jersey/NYC. We are premier silver members at @united , so we always fly with them. In fact, we had flown with Edeline 4 times already since the pandemic, without ever having an issue.
Today, we were asked to leave the plane after it had rolled out, and they had to bring it back to the gate, because our 2 year old daughter would not “comply” and keep her mask on. She will be 3 in April of 2021 for all that will have to ask.
And what blows my mind even more is that the WHO recommends against face masks for kids under the age of 5. AGAINST. And this decision was “based on expert opinion on childhood developmental milestones, challenges with mask compliance, and the autonomy required to wear a mask properly.”
This is worth a google search. Since our bags weren’t taken off the plane (they did get our child seat) – we have to wait until tomorrow till they deliver it to our house in Breckenridge which is 2 hours from the DIA airport. Definitely won’t make it to dinner in Jersey tonight.
Video of the incident shows Orban and her husband trying to put the mask on Edeline’s face, but the child won’t comply. Later, a gate agent arrives and says to Orban’s husband, “Hello sir. I’m going to have to ask you to grab your belongings and exit the aircraft.”
Orban’s husband answers, “You gotta be kidding me. Why? We’re over here holding this mask on her face.”
The agent repeats, “I’m sorry sir. I gave you an opportunity.”
Orban’s husband: “And I took that opportunity and ran with it. You see this, I’m literally covering her face. Do you guys do this all the time or what? Like, what?”
Agent: “If there’s non-compliance, yes.”
Orban’s husband: “This is compliance. I’m literally holding this over my daughter’s face. This is compliance right here.”
Agent: “I’m sorry.”
Orban: “We can’t force her; she’s literally holding it and she’s crying.”
Agent: “I’m sorry.”
Orban’s husband: “You’re going to do this to us?”
Agent: “Yes, sir.”
Orban’s husband: “Yeah? Wow.”
Orban: “All right, let’s go.”
After they are off the flight, Orban’s husband tells the agent, “I’m not upset at you; I don’t want you to think I’m upset with you; I just think that it’s so, so stupid how you enforce, so strict, it makes no sense.”
Agent: “There’s no compliance.”
Orban’s husband: “This virus has a 99% survival rate. If we use our minds …. What happens now?”
A spokesperson for United told DailyMail.com: “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 [Centers for Disease Prevention and Control] CDC and our partners at the Cleveland Clinic, but they’re also consistent across every major airline.” United added, ‘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.”
As Orban noted, the World Health Organization recommends against requiring face masks for children under five: “Children aged 5 years and under should not be required to wear masks,” the guidance reads. “This is based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance.”
The CDC advises parents to help children “2 years of age or older” “wear a mask correctly when in public and when around people they don’t live with.” “CDC recognizes that wearing masks may not be possible in every situation or for some people,” the guidance reads. “Correct and consistent use of masks may be challenging for some children, such as children with certain disabilities, including cognitive, intellectual, developmental, sensory and behavioral disorders.”
United’s mask policy states:
For everyone’s safety, all travelers are required to wear a face covering with no vents or openings that fully covers their nose and mouth. Face coverings must be worn during the entire flight and in the airport, including at United customer service counters and kiosks, United ClubSM locations, our gates and our baggage claim areas. A face shield alone does not count as a face covering. Travelers who aren’t wearing their face coverings in the airport or on board may be refused transport and could also lose their travel privileges on future United flights. Children younger than 2 years old are exempt.
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