Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Flight cancelled and police called over toddler face mask argument
10 September 2020, 14:54 | Updated: 10 September 2020, 15:21
A Canadian domestic flight was cancelled and police called after tensions flared following an argument over a “zero-tolerance” policy that everyone above two-years-old must wear a mask.
Passengers on Tuesday’s WestJet flight from Calgary to Toronto were forced to disembark and only rebooked onto a flight the following day.
Safwan Choudhry says the crew on Flight 652 wanted his 19-month-old to wear a mask, despite her being under two, and that the baby would not stop crying.
"Of course, being desperate to get home, we — despite there not being such a policy — opted to comply until she was crying hysterically, with the crew watching over us, until she threw up, at which point they told us you all need to get off the plane”, Mr Choudhry told CBC.
He claims that after the child vomited, crew told him police would be called and threatened his wife with arrest.
However, the airline say the Choudhry’s older, three-year-old daughter was the problem.
Mr Choudhry says his older daughter was eating a snack before take-off when flight attendants asked both children to wear a mask. He told reporters that he complied immediately.
But a spokesperson for Westjet disputed the account: “Due to non-compliance of the parents to place a mask on their older child who is over the age of two, our crew informed the adults of the regulations we are required to follow.
"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."
When passengers on the plane spoke up in defence of the family, the crew called the police, Mr Choudhry says.
Videos filmed by passengers on the flight and shared on social media show the police speaking to the family.
In the video the three-year-old child has a mask on and passengers can be heard swearing and shouting at police.
"The kid has a mask on, we have all seen it, we have all seen it," one lady says to police.
But a police officer speaking to the family tells them: "Listen to me, this isn't going to get finished with you sitting in this chair. You need to offload off the plane and let these passengers continue with their journey."
Westjet said: "Due to the rapid escalation of the situation on board, our crew felt uncomfortable to operate and the flight was subsequently cancelled."
Mr Choudhry said that his family are still in Calgary, and have not been offered another flight by WestJet.