While perfectly within its rights, American Airlines once again demonstrates the foolishness of throwing off two-year-olds for not wearing a mask.
Another Two-Year-Old Mask Incident On American Airlines
A family was traveling on American Airlines from Charlotte to Jacksonville. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, a four-year-old, and a two-year-old.
As the family describes it:
Leshinsky said her daughter, Makenna, was eating a snack when the flight attendant asked if she had a mask.
“My daughter was literally chewing,” Leshinsky said. “The stewardess said, ‘you are going to have to put her mask on.’ I said, ‘I will as soon as she’s done eating.’”
Leshinsky said they tried getting Makenna to put on the mask, but she wasn’t having it.
“She would leave it on for a little bit and then she’d take it off because she wanted to eat, and we would keep trying to put it on. We were bribing her,” Leshinsky said.
Leshinsky said the crew brought a Federal Air Marshal on board to talk to the family.
But American Airlines defends its policy based upon both CDC recommendations and customer support:
American Airlines requires all customers age 2 and older to wear face coverings at airports and on board aircraft to keep all customers and team members safe. This policy is based on CDC recommendations due to the safety risk of asymptomatic COVID-19 transmission. Our professional flight attendants try to work with parents of young children and recognize ongoing compliance efforts when families are traveling with us.
Our customers overwhelmingly support and follow this policy and have been clear that they feel more safe when everyone is wearing a face covering.
American Airlines adds, “The family is not banned from flying with American if they are willing to comply with our face covering requirements for future flights.”
This isn’t the first such incident on American Airlines. We’ve also seen the same thing on Southwest and United. But unlike United, at least American Airlines has a clear policy that all children age two older (versus “older than two”) must wear a mask.
The eating exception is not intended to allow a passenger to spend the entire flight eating, but I understand (as the father of two young children) that when kids are hungry…they are hungry. If she really was just eating, even during taxi and takeoff, what exactly is the problem? There was no issues on the family’s earlier flight segments.
I still find the European approach of not mandating masks for children 10 and under a much more reasonable balance.
What I found most interesting in this case is that American defends its policy on the basis of customer feedback. Maybe that should guide mask policy onboard, but the bigger question is what marginal benefit requiring a two-year-old to mask up actually provides. Do you notice we don’t hear stories about three or four-year-olds being thrown off? It’s only two-year-olds. Maybe that should tell us something…
(H/T: View from the Wing)