Spirit Airlines kicks 4-year-old boy with autism off flight for not wearing mask
Spirit ignores doctor’s mask note exempting child.
Carter Kimball, 4, flew with his father from Arkansas to Las Vegas to visit family last week. On the outgoing flight, Spirit Airlines accepted a note from Carter’s doctor, exempting him from mask mandates due to his condition.
However, on the return flight home the airline refused to acknowledge the note and ordered the boy off the plane with his father.
Callie Kimball told CBS Little Rock affiliate KTVH-TV that her son “had a medical note from his physician stating that he’s exempt from wearing masks because whenever he wears a mask he holds his breath or he starts freaking out and he will harm himself.”
Callie goes on to explain that Carter “has a disability. It’s protected under the American Disability Act and they go ‘No no no no. Autism’s not a disability. He has to wear a mask or he has to get off the plane.’
“Kids on the spectrum, they’re usually very obsessed with something. He is obsessed with airplanes. So he was sitting in his seat being quietly and looking out the window, and this lady was like ‘Get off!'”
In response to the incident, Spirit Airlines released the following statement: “We sympathize with families facing additional burdens while traveling, including those dealing with medical conditions. Like most airlines, Spirit Airlines started requiring face coverings in May 2020 with the only exemption being one for children under age 2.
“We remind Guests of our face covering policy throughout the booking process, in a pre-trip email sent prior to departure, and in a required acknowledgement that is part of the check-in procedure.
“Our existing policy does not provide for medical exemptions, regardless of diagnosis. Our Team Members explained this to a family traveling today, but never questioned anyone’s medical status in the process.
“Starting March 19, 2021, Guests with a medical disability who are traveling on or after March 22, 2021 can apply for an exemption as provided for in the federal mandate requiring masks in airports and on planes. We plan to add information to our website about the exemption later this week. Please visit our Information Center for more information on what we are doing to keep our Guests and Team Members safe.”