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A viral video shows a family being booted from a United Airlines flight because their 2-year-old daughter refused to keep her face mask on.
Eliz Orban said in an Instagram video posted Friday that she, her husband and their toddler were set to fly from Denver into New Jersey’s Newark International Airport when they were ousted from the plane over the coronavirus precaution.
“We just got kicked off the flight because our 2-year-old would not put on a mask, and we tried,” said a teary Orban in the video.
Orban also posted footage from the flight of her husband trying to loop the mask’s straps over the ears of the squirming tot, who was having none of it.
“Come here, you have to put this on,” Orban’s husband coaxed in vain, as the little girl covered her mouth with her hands. “You have to.”
After a cut into the video, a member of the flight crew approached the family.
“Hello, sir, I’m going to have to ask you to grab your belongings and exit the aircraft,” the man told Orban’s husband.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” replied Orban’s husband in disbelief.
“No, sir,” said the crewmember.
Orban’s husband explained that he was doing the best he could — even holding the mask over his daughter’s face — but the crewmember was unmoved.
“I’ve got to ask you to get off this plane,” he said.
Asked by Orban’s husband if such a move is routine, the crewmember replied, “If there’s non-compliance, yes.”
Orban’s husband continued to insist that the only lack of compliance was from a toddler.
“I’m literally holding it over my daughter’s face,” he said. “This is compliance right here.”
At that point, Orban chimed in.
“We can’t force her,” she said. “She’s literally holding it, and she’s crying.”
When the crewmember refused to budge, Orban and her family ultimately exited the plane.
She wrote in a caption on the Instagram video that they had planned on meeting up with friends and family in the Garden State for the first time in years, and take to their daughter to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, but were instead grounded in Colorado.
“I am still sitting here in confusion, disbelief, disgust and humiliation,” wrote Orban, whose profile on the page identifies her as a bodybuilder and former biathlon skier.
Orban said that they had previously flown with their daughter “4 times already since the pandemic, without ever having an issue.”
She also noted that even the World Health Organization advises that children aged five years and under should not be required to wear masks.
But United Airlines said in a statement to Heavy that their own mask policy includes children as young as two.
“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,” the airline told the outlet.
“These procedures are not only backed by guidance from the [federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and our partners at the Cleveland Clinic, but they’re also consistent across every major airline.”
“We are investigating this specific incident and have made contact with the family,” the statement continued. “We also refunded their tickets and returned their car seat and bags.”
Orban had initially said in the Instagram post that the family’s luggage was sent on to New Jersey even though they were not.
The airline also denied to Heavy that any members of the family had been banned from flying in the future, as Orban claimed in the video.