Muskoka Post Staff
According to the Calgary Sun a family of four travelling to Toronto from Calgary on Tuesday were ejected them from a WestJet flight because their 19-month-old daughter wasn’t wearing a mask.
Safwan Choudhry, his wife and two daughters, ages three and 19 months, had boarded the red-eye flight Tuesday morning heading home to Toronto when four crew members approached them in their seats, he said.
The WestJet crew told Choudhry and his wife that both of their children need to be wearing masks.
“My older daughter was eating a snack so we asked if she could finish and they said no, she needs to put it on now, otherwise the plane won’t take off and we said no problem,” he said. “My wife got the mask (on the three-year-old) with a little bit of hesitation and then they turned to my 19-month-old and said she also needs to wear a mask.”
According to the Transport Canada website, “an infant two years or less” is exempt from wearing a mask during a flight.
The 19 month old had never worn a mask before but, having one for her, the couple complied.
“We just wanted to get home, this is the last flight so we will comply with whatever they tell us to do,” he said. “She certainly struggled because our 19-month-old has never had anything obstruct her nose or mouth . . . So she became very hysterical and we still tried to keep the mask on her face.”
It seems that WestJet has no problem harassing and abusing infants and the ideology is either comply or be removed from a flight which you paid for and are now this company’s customer. That didn’t matter in this case. Choudhry said the crew told the family that they were being ejected from the flight because their younger daughter would clearly not be able to keep the mask on her face for the duration of the flight.
Yet for some reason WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said the crew’s concerns were not about the 19-month-old, who staff knew was an infant, but about the couple’s three-year-old. And yet they were removed because their 19 month old couldn’t keep a mask on.
“The crew told us it was Transport Canada’s policy, everyone has to wear it or the gates won’t close, which means you guys need to get off the plane,” Choudhry said. The WestJet crew that day clearly then either lied or had no idea and are not properly trained on the actual policy.
Still trying to comply in an already escalating situation Choudhry decided to firmly keep the mask held onto his youngest daughter’s face when staff said the family needed to leave or they would call the police. At that point, 45 minutes after the plane was scheduled to depart, he said the crew left and police officers boarded the plane.
Let’s make this clear WestJet summoned the police for a 19 month old who could not wear a mask and is not mandated to wear one.
At this point “Multiple police officers boarded the flight and said ‘we need to evacuate you off the place because you are not complying,’ and I said ‘not complying with what?’ They said, ‘well, we don’t have the exact details we were just told that there were passengers who are not complying and our policy is we have to take you off,'” Choudhry said.
Due to the traumatic stress of the situation the 19-month-old girl had become so hysterical that she vomited in her mask, Choudhry said. The pilot then announced that all passengers needed to get off the plane for “security and safety protocol” reasons.
After leaving the plane, he said there were about a dozen officers at the gate who asked the family for ID. Once provided, Choudhry said the officer handling his youngest child’s paperwork quickly realized she was under two.
“The situation immediately after that took a completely different course because the police who they had called to arrest us was now questioning the WestJet crew and other passengers gathered,” he said, adding then came the announcement that the flight was to be cancelled.
‘I have never witnessed this level of abuse, harassment and just outright disrespect in Calgary at least,’ Choudhry said.
A WestJet Canada spokesperson stuck to the narrative that the passengers “chose not to comply with the Transport Canada order related to the wearing of masks on-board the aircraft for all guests two years and older.” Clearly not in this case as the issue was in fact a child under the age of 2.
According to the family after ejecting them from the flight WestJet didn’t bother sending them home with their luggage, they left the airport without it. They are now staying at a relative’s house in Calgary and will be booking their return flight to Toronto with another airline. The police did not lay charges and have urged the family to keep a copy of the police report moving forward.