Southwest Airways removes Pittsburgh girls from the flight, accusing them of breaching the WPXI masks mandate
PITTSBURGH – For a group of Pittsburgh women, the spring break in Florida was wonderful until they boarded a Southwest Airlines plane to return to Pennsylvania.
“I felt bad that I was sneezing, but it was my allergies. I told her (the flight attendant) that I was fully vaccinated. I didn’t want people to be uncomfortable, ”said Kelly Smith.
Kelly Smith was on Southwest Flight 4427 with her sister, mother, and friend to leave West Palm Beach for home when she started sneezing.
Smith tells Channel 11 that the flight attendant brought her handkerchiefs to use, which she did by removing her mask.
Shortly afterwards, Smith was led off the plane.
“It was humiliating. We were in the back row. It wasn’t just a nuisance for the people on the flight, I think the flight attendant was having a bad day. But it was a disturbance to my family and friends, ”said Smith.
“I keep joking that Ashton Kutcher would come around the corner and say we were punk because it was so ridiculous,” said Kim Dandurand, Kelly’s sister.
The women tell Channel 11 that after being removed from the plane, they had to buy a hotel room for the evening because Southwest Airlines rebooked them at a different airport for a flight more than an hour away.
Southwest Airlines sent Channel 11 a statement regarding the incident, some of which read: “Our reports indicate that this customer failed to wear a proper mask on multiple occasions while on board the aircraft and in the presence of other customers and crew.”
Smith’s response to the allegations: “Disbelief. It’s just not true. It breaks my heart to say that because I used to joke, I didn’t even draw my card in elementary school. I never went to yellow or red. It just doesn’t happen to us, ”said Smith.
Southwest Airlines tells Channel 11 that they regret the inconvenience Smith and her party experienced but that they followed federal guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Smith and her group tell Channel 11 that they have been disappointed with Southwest Airlines and the actions of their cabin crew.
Southwest Airlines sent Channel 11 the following statement:
“Although we regret the inconvenience for this customer, federal law requires that everyone aged 2 and over must wear a mask over their mouth and nose at all times to prevent the spread of COVID-19. According to our reports, this customer did not wear a mask properly on several occasions while on board the aircraft and in the presence of other customers and crew.
Southwest communicates the federal mask mandate through multiple touchpoints, including: during booking; in a pre-trip email sent prior to departure; and during a required confirmation that is part of the customer health declaration form displayed during the check-in process on the Southwest app, Southwest.com, the Southwest mobile website and airport kiosks.
As a gesture of goodwill, Southwest rescheduled the customer to another flight to give individuals more time to meet the federal mask mandate. Please visit our website for more information on face covering requirements.
We value the spirit of federal mask mandate compliance and the continued collaboration between our customers and employees as we work together to support the well-being of all who travel with us during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “