After getting stranded in Florida while on a work trip due to Hurricane Sally, Rachel Davis was relieved to finally be heading back home Manchester, New Hampshire, with her two-year-old son, Lyon. As she boarded an American Airlines flight last Thursday (September 17), her "overtired" son refused to wear a mask. A flight attendant informed Davis that if she couldn't get Lyon to put on a mask, they would have to get off the plane.
"I tried repeatedly, begged him, bribed him, pleaded with him, did everything I could while he was screaming and crying as I tried to hold him and put the mask on, feeling my absolute lowest of lows as a mother," Davis wrote on Instagram.
Despite her best efforts, Lyon refused to keep his mask on, and the flight crew ordered all the passengers to deplane. The way the airline handled the situation upset many of the passengers.
"It was very cold and cruel," fellow passenger Taylor Cournoyer told ABC News. "This wasn't an issue of a grown adult not complying out of spite because they don't agree with masks -- this was a child. And it was not a bad, irresponsible mom either -- she was crying and trying to keep the mask on and asking the flight attendants for help and advice on what to do."
Cournoyer also shared a video of Davis pleading with the crew for understanding.
"I don't know what you want me to do to keep the mask on him," Davis said through tears in the video. "What do you want me to do -- duct tape his face? He's 2 years old, he doesn't get it!"
After the passengers reboarded the plane, some of them spoke up and blamed the flight crew for how they handled the situation. That sparked the pilot to issue a stern warning to everybody on board.
"I hate to talk like this, but once we get going, if there are any problems, if you guys give them any problems at all about the decisions that I have made, we will turn the flight around, and we will come back," the pilot said.
Cournoyer accused the crew of acting like dictators.
"The whole situation was an example of how we as a society have forgotten to treat each other with kindness and compassion," Cournoyer said. "The crew and staff were acting like authoritative dictators."
American Airlines defended the decision to remove Davis and her son from the plane.
"To ensure the safety of our customers and team, American Airlines requires all persons 2 years and older to wear an appropriate face covering throughout the entirety of their travel journey," American Airlines said in a statement. "Policies are enforced and approved face coverings are made available at key points throughout the customer journey. We've reached out to the family to learn more about their recent travel experience and to address their concerns."
Photo: Getty Images