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Southwest Airlines crew balk at leaving maskless teenager with autism flight

When a Long Beach, Calif., Family with a teenage son with autism tried to board a Southwest Airlines flight from St. Louis, they encountered a problem with the carrier, reports CBS Los Angeles. .

LaShaunda Jethro says flying with her 17-year-old non-verbal son, Trey, is always a challenge, and mask requirements have made it even more difficult.

“He won’t keep a mask on his face. We’ve tried and tried. He just won’t,” Jethro told CBS LA.

But she said they had never had a problem so far.

“We come to the door of the plane and the flight attendant says, ‘No. He can’t come. He has to wear a mask,'” Jethro said.

Southwest has mask exemptions for disabled passengers. The passenger or guardian must complete an exemption request form and provide a medical certificate.

“I pulled out my phone, got the doctor’s letter and she said, ‘Well, no. It has to come from the company and you have to do it before you get on the plane, ”LaShaunda said.

After going back and forth with airline employees and calling a St. Louis TV station, Jethro said they were cleared to board, but the situation was still unresolved.

“Here is the manager again,” Jethro recalls. “She said, ‘I need you to come with me.’ What? “I need you to get off the plane. I’m like ‘OK’ and my husband says ‘Well, do we all have to get off the plane?’ She said ‘No. You and your son can go, but she has to go.’ “

Southwest Airlines crew balk at leaving maskless teenager with autism flight
Trey Jethro, 17, July 19, 2021.

CBS Los Angeles

Southwest claims Jethro was asked to disembark for not wearing her mask at one point while speaking with flight attendants. Jethro disputes it.

“I’m still so in shock and so amazed that this has happened,” she said.

Eventually, the family decided to get off the plane together, even though their luggage remained on the flight. They booked a flight to Long Beach on Monday.


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