WestJet is in the news for the wrong reasons again after one of their crews caused an entire flight to be cancelled as a dispute arose over a toddler wearing a face mask on a domestic flight from Calgery to Toronto.

Following the incident with the family that traveled with their 19-month and 3 year old daughters the police actually cleared the situation but the crew “felt uncomfortable with the situation on board” and refused to work the flight.

I feel this is a story out of bizarroworld because it really borders on the fantastic considering all the elements involved in this way over the top reaction.

The CBC reported that the family with two young girls was booked on a domestic flight from Calgary YYC to Toronto YYZ and that there was a dispute over the girls wearing masks on the flight, causing WestJet to call the police on them.

WestJet says it cancelled a flight from Calgary to Toronto early Tuesday when tensions on board rapidly escalated after a family refused to obey a rule that all passengers over the age of two wear masks.

Passenger Safwan Choudhry says airline staff were trying to force his 19-month-old daughter to wear a mask even though she isn’t required to at that age. But WestJet says it was his older, three-year-old daughter, who was of concern.

A WestJet spokesperson confirmed that Flight 652 was cancelled, adding flight crew have access to a guest manifest that specifically states which guests are under age two, as they are booked as infants.

Choudhry said his family complied with regulations. His younger daughter was identified as an infant on her boarding pass, and his older daughter was wearing a mask.

But WestJet said the accounts from the crew and airline agents differ from Choudhry’s.

“WestJet would like to clarify that there were two children, and we were not requiring the infant to wear a mask, but did require the other child, who is over age two, to wear one,” WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart said in an email.

WestJet has a zero-tolerance mask adherence policy, the airline said, to comply with a Transport Canada regulation making it mandatory for all travellers aged two and over to wear protective face coverings while on flights.

In an updated statement provided Wednesday, WestJet clarified the reason for the flight cancellation, stating again that its staff were asking the parents to mask the older child.

“Our crew requested the presence of the authorities after the guests refused to comply with Transport Canada’s interim order and subsequently refused to deplane the aircraft,” the airline said in the update.

“Due to the rapid escalation of the situation on board, our crew felt uncomfortable to operate and the flight was subsequently cancelled.”

Stewart apologized to guests affected by the cancelled flight, and said the airline found flights for most of them.

“We are disappointed that this issue ended ultimately in a flight cancellation for all guests on board,” Stewart said.

WestJet said the family was travelling on employee travel passes and said those guests are held to a higher standard of behaviour. …

The source of the families tickets shouldn’t even play any role in this situation. The airline could have simply taken them off the flight and that would have been the end of it if the passengers really violated the rules of employee travel benefits. It shouldn’t result in a situation where the crew walks away from the flight.

This policy by the Canadian Government (Transport Canada) doesn’t make sense and is way over the top.

All air travellers, with few exceptions, are required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering while travelling.

In all other modes, operators may require travellers to wear a non-medical mask or face covering whenever possible, especially when interacting with others, and when they cannot maintain a distance of 2 metres.

The following people should not wear a mask:

  • children under 2 years old
  • people who have trouble breathing
  • people who need help to remove a mask
  • people who provide a medical certificate certifying that they are unable to wear a face mask for a medical reason

Having a rule in place that is trying to force a mask or any object on very young children over TWO years of age simply doesn’t make sense. Anyone who ever had to take of children or remembers their younger siblings and cousins knows that it’s next to impossible to accomplish even menial things like getting the child to wear a bib or wear clothes properly.

Besides the point that I feel WestJet and their crew is lying in this case and starts making excuses which can be rebutted by the police officers that responded to the scene as well as video material.

The CBC article recounts the passengers version of events:

… “It started with my toddler and once we got a mask on her, they turned to my 19-month-old infant and said ‘every person on the plane has to wear a mask or the plane can’t take off,’”…

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