New Jersey family asks Spirit Airlines for an apology after being ordered to quit a flight on Monday because the family’s toddler ate without a mask, according to the family and video of the confrontation which has since gone viral .
Spirit Airlines disputed the family’s account, saying it was the toddler’s parents who violated the federal mask ordinance, but their violation was not captured on video. The family were temporarily removed from the plane, but were then able to continue on the same flight from Orlando, Fla. To Atlantic City, New Jersey, after agreeing to follow the warrant, the airline said.
In an online press conference Tuesday with special education attorney Michael Inzelbuch, Avital Eisenberg, the toddler’s mother, said the family had been treated disrespectfully by Spirit flight attendants Airlines even after explaining that their 7-year-old son was prone to epileptic seizures and may require special accommodation on board.
Their daughter, who turned 2 in February, was sitting on her mother’s lap eating yogurt as the family were asked to leave the plane for violating the mask’s federal mandate, according to Inzelbuch, who is also counsel for the Lakewood Board of Education. , and a video of the incident.
Avital Eisenberg, who is 7 months pregnant, said the staff showed a “lack of compassion and humanity”.
“I never, ever felt what I did on this flight,” she said.
Inzelbuch, who said he had previously represented the family in a special education lawsuit involving their son, issued an ultimatum demanding that Spirit Airlines apologize to the family before midnight Wednesday or face legal action.
“We are not asking for a boycott. We are not asking for marches,” Inzelbuch said. “We ask at this point for two words: ‘I’m sorry. “”
“For now, we want a commitment that this will not happen to any family, to any child with special needs,” he added.
A Spirit Airlines spokesperson said the family had been temporarily removed from the flight because the adults were not following the mask’s warrant, a claim the couple denied.
“Our team members were following federal mask requirements and repeatedly asked adults in the party to comply with this requirement, which happened before the videos that were shared widely,” the party said. company in a press release. “We were delighted that they ended up complying and traveled on the flight as planned.”
Videos of the incident posted online show both parents wearing masks, except for a brief moment when the children’s father Ari Eisenberg pulls the mask down while arguing with a flight attendant after the family has already been asked to leave the plane.
Avital Eisenberg said the family were confronted with the fact that the children did not wear masks before boarding the plane. She said she explained to the flight attendant that her 7-year-old son was non-verbal and suffered from seizures, and that she feared he might face health complications by wearing a mask.
The family rarely travel by plane due to their son’s condition and were already nervous about the trip, Avital Eisenberg said.
Avital Eisenberg said the flight attendant then asked again where the children’s masks were and said they couldn’t board the plane without them. She said she asked for masks and the flight attendant gave her two, but her son was struggling to wear them.
Later Ari Eisenberg said he told another airline staff member that his son has special needs and that his daughter has just turned 2 and it would be a challenge to babysit the two children masked throughout the flight. He said he and his wife wore their masks throughout the meeting.
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The federal mask warrant, issued in January by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help airlines enforce mask requirements in place throughout the pandemic, to give airlines government backing for the requirements of mask in place throughout the pandemic, requires anyone over 2 years of age to wear a mask or face mask on a commercial flight, but there are exceptions for people with special needs. Spirit Airlines policy allows passengers to remove their masks while eating or drinking.
Once the family were seated, they said they were confronted with flight attendants again, this time about the volume of music coming from the iPhone their son was using. Avital Eisenberg said his son insisted on turning up the volume and could not use headphones because of his condition.
She said flight attendants did not warn others on the plane who were listening to music or watching videos on their cellphones and no passengers around them complained about the noise.
The family were then told to leave the plane as a flight attendant accused them of violating the masking order.
Video captured by another passenger shows a flight attendant approaching the family, telling them they must get off the plane.
“What have we done?” Avital asks.
“I told you, disrespect – you’ll have to get off,” she said. “I didn’t mean to do this.”
“OK, no problem. Tell me what we did,” Ari Eisenberg replies.
“Failure to respect masks,” said the woman.
“We wear masks,” says Avital.
“She’s not wearing a mask,” said the flight attendant, gesturing to the toddler.
Another passenger notices in the video that the other children on the plane were not wearing masks.
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“The pilot wants you to go,” the flight attendant told the family.
All passengers disembarked and eventually returned, including the Eisenberg family.
Spirit Airlines countered the accusations by claiming that the information circulating about the incident was false.
“The flight was delayed due to adults failing to comply with the federal mask requirement,” the company said in a statement. “We have allowed guests to continue the flight to their destination after receiving assurances of compliance.”
According to the Lakewood Scoop, which first reported the incident and posted a video recorded inside the plane, the company initially deleted a message on Twitter saying the family had been ordered to disembark because it was the toddler’s parents who weren’t wearing masks.
But a Spirit Airlines spokesperson told Asbury Park Press the company supports its original statement.
“We also understand that we are looking at this through different lenses, which is why we would like to open a direct dialogue with the family,” the company said in a statement.
Avital Eisenberg said his children were shaken by the ordeal.
“As a mother, I went to bed last night, I was bawling my eyes out,” she said.