A couple that was kicked off a United Airlines flight earlier this month after their 2-year-old daughter refused to wear a face mask decided to travel to a separate destination a few days later without their child.
The mom, Eliz Orban, posted a video of her experience to Twitter and Instagram on December 11. The posts, which show Orban’s husband making unsuccessful attempts to put a face mask on their daughter before a United staff member approaches the couple to ask them to leave, collectively have over 13 million views at the time of writing.
In the video, Orban says United has barred them from flying “forever.” But a United spokesperson previously told Insider the Orbans were not barred from flying on the airline. The representative added their tickets were refunded and bags returned and that United was investigating the incident.
After their experience, the couple said they didn’t feel comfortable bringing their daughter on their next trip
On December 17, Orban shared an Instagram photo at Denver International Airport by the Delta departures terminal. In the caption, the 26-year-old health coach said she and her husband were flying to Palm Beach, Florida, this time without their daughter because of the earlier incident.
“It breaks our heart that we couldn’t bring our daughter, we tried calling the airlines and couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone and we could honestly just not go through again what we went through on Friday,” the caption said.
Orban does not specify which airlines she called and has not returned Insider’s request for comment on this article.
The mom’s caption said she felt “humiliated, traumatized, and triggered by what happened.”
Orban said she and her husband were flying first class on Delta after the Instagram user @bryant_s_ellis offered to pay for their travel.
United Airlines’ policy stipulates ‘all travelers over the age of 2 are required to wear face coverings’
In the caption for her Instagram video about the December 11 incident, Orban said she and her husband “always fly” with the airline as United Premier Silver members. They were flying from Denver to New Jersey to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City, she said, and had flown with their daughter “4 times already since the pandemic, without ever having an issue.”
In a statement previously provided to Insider, a United spokesperson said “the health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, which is why we have a multi-layered set of policies, including mandating that everyone onboard two and older wears a mask. These procedures are not only backed by guidance from the CDC and our partners at the Cleveland Clinic, but they’re also consistent across every major airline.”
United’s face-mask policy, which says “all travelers over the age of 2 are required to wear face coverings during their entire flight,” went into effect on July 24. Writing for The Points Guy, Summer Hull said United’s wording of the age cutoff for mandatory face masks “may be a bit confusing” and that “masks are required as soon as you turn 2.”
Delta’s policy is a bit more lenient than United’s, saying that “children under the age of two and young children who cannot maintain a face covering are exempt from the mask requirement.” Other major airlines, including JetBlue, American, Southwest, have a policy similar to United’s where no exemption is made for children “who cannot maintain a face covering.”
Orban’s experience sparked a heated debate
Orban’s experience has ignited a discussion about traveling with toddlers, with everyone from medical professionals to parents chiming in.
Some Twitter users expressed sympathy and said “trying to get a 2 year old to ‘comply’ with anything for over 5-10 minutes at a time is damn near impossible.”
Others supported United, saying that “a rule is a rule” and “the airline had to protect the other passengers.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says “travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19” and advises that children over 2 wear a mask. The World Health Organization, meanwhile, says that children under 5 should be “not be required” to wear masks.
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