Family leaves flight after 2-year-old told to mask up

COVID-19

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Rebecca Sylvia-Cramer believes masks have kept her family safe. “My son has a kidney issue, and I am pregnant, so we can’t get sick,” she explained.

The mother of two said that’s why it was upsetting when Frontier Airlines told her that her toddler was being non-compliant because he wouldn’t wear his mask on a flight from Denver to Austin. “The biggest issue for me is that I got treated like a criminal, and I am not a criminal,” she said.

Sylvia-Cramer and her mother, 2-year-old son, and 4-year-old daughter did not end up flying home Wednesday. She decided to drive from Denver to Austin with her family.

Sylvia-Cramer said her family had been excited initially. She said her 2-year-old is a “corona baby,” so he had never been on a plane. However, the experience was not what she’d expected.

“The first time we were approached, [the flight attendant] did not approach me, she approached my son and told my son—who is 2 years old—and told him he needed to stop playing with the armrest,” Sylvia-Cramer said. She said there were no passengers in the row in front of her family nor the row behind.

  • Rebecca Sylvia-Cramer and her family (Courtesy of Rebecca)
  • Rebecca Sylvia-Cramer's 2-year-old son
  • Rebecca Sylvia-Cramer and her family

After that, she said, the flight attendant asked Sylvia-Cramer to tell her son to wear his mask, which was on a lanyard around his neck. Sylvia-Cramer, who had given her son a lollipop, told the flight attendant he was hungry because the flight was delayed getting into Denver and they didn’t anticipate having lunch so late.

“I had one [mask] ready for both my kids, and I said, ‘He’s eating now.’ It’s my understanding that if kids are eating, they can take their masks off,” she said. Sylvia-Cramer said several flight attendants asked how old her son was. She asked one of them why they were questioning her.

“I was like, ‘What’s going on? Do you think I’m not being compliant? Like, I understand. I’m trying to get him to wear his mask.’ And [one flight attendant] said, ‘No, we’re just checking for numbers. We need to know if he’s a lap child or has his own seat.'”

Still, according to Sylvia-Cramer, another Frontier Airlines employee boarded the plane and told her his supervisor was trying to decide whether her family should take a different flight. Instead, she voluntarily got off the plane with her family because she didn’t want to hold up the plane any longer.

“I stood up, and I said, ‘I’m so sorry. I’m pregnant, and I have two toddlers, and I’m just doing the best I can,'” she recalled while in tears.

Frontier Airlines said that even with the family’s delay ahead of take-off, “the flight ultimately arrived in Austin just three minutes past the scheduled arrival time.” Regarding Frontier’s eating policy, the airline said, “Pulling your mask down briefly to eat or drink is allowed, but having your mask down for an extended period of time is not.”

Frontier’s mask policy states: “As required by federal law, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Order and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Security Directive, all passengers and employees must wear a face covering over nose and mouth throughout the Frontier travel experience including at ticket counters, gate areas, baggage claim and onboard all flights.”

People with disabilities who cannot wear a mask can apply for an exemption. Frontier was processing a refund for Sylvia-Cramer.

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