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WestJet cancels flight due to mask dispute with baby

Passengers at the airport after police called over a mask dispute with a child

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A Canadian flight was canceled and police were called because a child was not wearing a mask.

Safwan Choudhry says WestJet wanted her 1

9-month-old son to wear a mask, but the baby wouldn’t stop crying.

The airline says the problem was not with the infant, who is under the age required to wear a mask, but with Mr. Choudhry’s three-year-old.

On Tuesday morning, flight 652 from Calgary to Toronto was stopped and all passengers were ordered to disembark.

“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, let alone experienced,” Choudhry told the BBC.

Mr. Choudhry told the BBC that his eldest daughter, who is three, was having a snack before take off when flight attendants approached asking that both of their children wear masks. He said he and his wife were masked.

She said she asked her daughter if she could finish her snack, but that they said they had a “zero tolerance policy” and that they would not close the aircraft door without her wearing a mask. Mr. Choudhry said he agreed to wear one immediately.

“Most kids are forced to facilitate them, which is a code word for me to pull out the iPad,” he told the BBC.

He says the three-year-old wore a mask after some agitation.

“But my youngest had a very difficult time, she was basically hysterical.”

Mr. Choudhry says she was so upset that she threw up.

She says WestJet was aggressive and told them that since her youngest daughter wasn’t wearing a mask and was too angry to wear a mask, the whole family would have to leave.

He says they told them that if they didn’t leave, they could be arrested, charged and sent to jail.

Mr. Choudhry says he and his wife were respectful. Eventually they decided to leave.

She later learned that under Canadian transportation policy, only children over the age of two are required to wear a mask, and therefore her 19-month-old baby didn’t have to wear one.

What does WestJet say?

WestJet disputes that the three-year-old wore a mask.

The airline said in a statement: “Due to parents’ failure to put a mask on their oldest child who is over two, our crew has informed adults of the rules we are required to follow.

“Our crew requested the presence of the authorities after the guests refused to comply with Transport Canada’s provisional order and subsequently refused to disembark the plane.”

A video taken with Mr. Choudhry’s phone shows his eldest daughter wearing a mask on the plane after the police arrived on board.

He says that while some passengers were very upset with his family, “overwhelmingly” the people on the plane supported them. Many spoke in defense of the family, while their youngest wept, he says.

That was when the flight crew called the police, he says. They got off the plane and the flight was eventually canceled and resumed for the next day.

“Due to the rapid escalation of the situation on board, our crew felt uncomfortable operating and the flight was subsequently canceled,” WestJet said.

In a video, a policeman explains to them that while the mask problem with the major was “solved”, “the behavior of the other passengers left the rest of the crew unsure.”

Some passengers can be heard in the video of the incident disturbing the police and flight crew.

The officer later confirms that when he arrived, the eldest son was wearing a mask.

The police have not presented any charges.

A travel companion, Marian Nur, also recorded some of the interactions with the flight crew, because she was concerned that the family was being targeted because of their race and religion: Mr. Choudhry’s wife is wearing a hijab.

“I was so shocked, the parents never raised their voices, they never got mad at the caregivers, they were just trying to reason with them,” she told CBC.

Mr. Choudhry says he and his family are still in Calgary and has not been offered another flight to Toronto. He says he hopes this won’t happen to anyone else.

“So many people have suffered so much due to a lack of understanding from politics,” he says.

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