Four-year-old autistic boy kicked off flight for not wearing face mask

Four-year-old autistic boy kicked off flight for not wearing face mask

A US airline has been sharply criticised after a mother claimed her son had been kicked off a flight because he wasn’t wearing a mask.

Callie Kimball, from Arkansas, explained that four-year-old Carter, who is autistic, is exempt from wearing a face covering.

“He had a medical note from his physician stating that he’s exempt from wearing masks, because whenever he wears a mask he holds his breath, or he starts freaking out and he will harm himself,” she told the CBS-affiliated news outlet THV11.

However, when the family got on the Spirit Airlines flight home from Las Vegas, Carter was told to “get off” the plane.

This was despite the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention stating that a person can be exempted from the Covid face covering rule if they “cannot safely wear a mask because of [their] disability” under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Also, they had been no issue on their outbond flight to Vegas, Kimball explained.

“He has a disability. It’s protected under the [Act] and they go, ‘no no no, autism’s not a disability. He has to wear a mask or he has to get off the plane’,” she said.

Carter, who is also non-verbal, is a big aviation fan and was said to be “so distraught” that he “threw all of his airplanes down”.

His mum explained: “Kids on the spectrum, they’re usually very obsessed with something. He is obsessed with airplanes. So he was sitting in his seat being quietly and looking out the window, and this lady was like ‘Get off!’

“I’ve never in my life experienced that kind of discrimination from someone.”

Spirit Airlines have since confirmed that a refund was issued to the family, saying in a statement to THV11: “We sympathise with families facing additional burdens while travelling, including those dealing with medical conditions.

“Like most airlines, Spirit Airlines started requiring face coverings in May 2020 with the only exemption being one for children under age two. 

“Our existing policy does not provide for medical exemptions, regardless of diagnosis. Our Team Members explained this to a family traveling today, but never questioned anyone’s medical status in the process.”

They went on to add that disabled guests travelling from Sunday can apply for a mask exemption on their flights as part of a new policy being introduced on Friday.

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