Southwest turns away family after their child with autism couldn’t wear mask

Southwest Airlines turns away family after their daughter with autism is unable to wear a mask

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Kauai mother said Southwest Airlines turned her away because her 5-year-old daughter with autism could not wear a mask during an inter-island flight.

Jennyluck Remolacio said when she booked her flight, she didn’t expect to have issues.

She said Hawaiian Airlines didn’t give her problems in February when she was traveling from Kauai to Oahu for her daughter’s therapy.

But when she got to the gate for her Southwest flight in early March, a boarding agent stopped her.

“She said, unfortunately, we cannot get you into the plane because there’s a regulation,” said Remolacio.

Remolacio said she showed the agent the doctor’s note and tried to put a mask on her daughter. When her daughter refused to wear the mask, they were turned away.

“While we regret any inconvenience this family experienced while traveling, federal law requires each person, two years of age and older, to wear a mask at all times throughout the flight, including during boarding and deplaning,” a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines said in a statement.

They said that beginning March 14, the company will begin considering mask exemptions for passengers traveling March 21 or later, but passengers will need to submit paperwork and get approval prior to their flight.

A spokesperson from Hawaiian Airlines said their policy has always allowed for an exemption for guests who are unable to keep a face mask on due to a medical condition or disability.

“I feel really disappointed because they should have done better,” Remolacio said.

Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.