PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire woman was not allowed to stay on an American Airlines flight with her 2-year-old son because he would not wear a mask, stoking a discussion about how to balance compassion with rules designed to keep others safe.
In an Instagram post, Rachel Starr Davis of Portsmouth said while she was boarding a plane in Charlotte, North Carolina, a flight attendant told her the airline’s policy is that all passengers over the age of 2 must wear a covering over their nose and mouth, the Portsmouth Herald reported.
Davis was flying with her mother and son to Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday, when her son refused to put on a mask, she wrote.
In her post, she said she “did everything I could while he was screaming and crying as I tried to hold him and put the mask on,” but eventually, the flight’s crew asked all of the passengers to get off the plane. She also got off the plane and was then left behind as the other passengers got back on and departed.
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I’m at a complete loss of words. The eyes of a mama-bear who just bawled her eyes out as she was forced off an airplane because her 2 year old wouldn’t keep his mask on. I tried repeatedly, begged him, bribed him, pleaded with him, did everything I could while he was screaming and crying as I tried to hold him and put the mask on, feeling my absolute lowest of lows as a mother. Before I even sat in my seat, flight attendant Terry on American Airlines flight 5595 from Charlotte, NC to Manchester, NH on September 17th, approached me and asked how old my son is, and demanded according to their policy he wear a mask. I told her this is our fourth American Airlines flight this week, and he has never been asked to wear a mask. She informed me he (my overtired two year old son) would need to comply with their company policy or we would be asked to leave the aircraft. As I tried to put down my things and get a mask out, I heard Terry on the phone saying “yea it’s clear there is going to be a problem and we will need you to come down”. The nastiest smug look on her face. I’ll save you the rest of the horror that happened on the plane, as I continued trying to get him to wear the mask, bawling my eyes out and hyperventilating behind my own suffocating mask. Desperate to get home after the worst week. He would have been asleep before we even pushed back if they had just been humans. The pilot had the final say, Lyon wears the mask or they will escort us off the plane. Rather than get themselves any bad press by escorting a crying mom and two year old off the plane, they forced everyone to deplane, and wouldn’t let us back on the flight home. Apparently before we got off the plane everyone who left before us lit up the crew in the gate area. The Captain walking right by me as I screamed my head off in my absolute worst moment. They moved us to a flight tonight, on the same airline who’s company policy kicked us off the last flight, because my two year old son wouldn’t keep a mask securely over his nose and mouth at all times. This is the world we live in? This is not a mask debate. This is a ‘be a god damned human’ debate. I will NEVER fly AA again.
Davis’s post garnered over 180,000 likes and thousands of comments as some users on Instagram argued that the flight attendants were doing their jobs while others decried a lack of compassion for a mother traveling with a young child.
“Policies are enforced and approved face coverings are made available at key points throughout the customer journey,” American Airlines spokeswoman Gianna Urgo told the newspaper. “We’ve reached out to the family to learn more about their recent travel experience and to address their concerns.”
Davis said she had been contacted by American Airlines and said she wants an apology for how she was treated, the newspaper reported.
Davis’ experience is the latest example of how airlines are struggling to coax travelers back on board while enforcing new rules designed to keep their employees and others safe.
In August, another mother of a 2-year-old and her other children were kicked off a flight in Florida as they were returning back to New York, and earlier last week, another woman was asked to leave a flight because her 2-year-old son would not immediately put his mask on correctly, NBC-2-TV reported.
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𝑇ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑘 𝑌𝑜𝑢 ♥️ Three days ago I made a raw post after an experience that left myself, my son and my mom shaken. The outpouring of support and compassion we have received has been remarkable. None of us can know exactly how we will respond in any scenario until we are in it. I can tell you as a mom, there is an internal protective instinct that even I didn’t know existed until it was activated. Thank you to those who see the impossible situation I was trying to handle, under severe stress and exhaustion. Thank you to every person on that plane who stood up for us when you saw what was really happening. Only the people on that flight can understand exactly what happened, and how poorly it was handled by the crew. I’ve been processing everything since that day, and I did not expect to have to figure out how to process this in front of thousands of new people who are watching and judging my every move. This is brand new territory for me, so thank you to those who are showing me grace and compassion as we navigate. While I realize many will misunderstand even this post I’m writing right now, I want to bring awareness to very real scenarios that are happening everyday now. No mother should ever feel the way I felt on that plane. No nana should ever feel the way my own mother felt in that moment either. If you know us in real life, you know that we lead with respect, love and compassion. We don’t think we are above the rules, and we were doing our best to do as we were demanded in that moment. The situation was against us before we even knew what was happening. If we all led with our hearts and a listening ear, this world would look so much different right now. Please, spread love, not hate. Show compassion, not condemnation. Ask God for discernment and direction. Please love one another ♥️ “𝑇ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑖𝑠 𝑚𝑦 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑚𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡, 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑙𝑜𝑣𝑒 𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑠 𝐼 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑙𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑦𝑜𝑢.” 𝐽𝑜ℎ𝑛 15:12