Mask dispute with NJ family empties Spirit Airlines plane
An entire Atlantic City-bound Spirit Airlines flight was disembarked Monday morning in Orlando over a mask dispute with Toms River family of two children.
A passenger on Flight 138 told The Lakewood Scoop that a family with a 7-year-old child with special needs and a 2-year-old were told by a flight attendant to leave the plane because the toddler would not wear a mask while eating.
Spirit Airlines spokesman Field Sutton, however, told New Jersey 101.5 that the incident was over the parents not wearing a mask, not the toddler.
"There are reports saying it was about a 2-year-old. It was not. There's video where they're talking about the 2-year-old. What leads up to that video that you don't see on that video is the parents are refusing to wear their masks and that is what caused this to be an issue," Sutton said.
The passengers were brought back on the plane and the flight took off at 1:30 p.m., two and half hours late.
The Scoop posted several videos showing the family and passengers getting off the plane.
Former Major League Baseball player Lenny Dykstra also posted video on his Twitter account of the father blaming a flight attendant for the incident.
"The captain was OK with this, the whole plane was OK with it. There was one African-American who was not OK with it. Why? Not complying," the father says in the video.
Dykstra suggested that the family was targeted because they were Jewish, an assertion that the airline's spokesman called "absurd."
The parents spoke with a supervisor during the deplaning and agreed to wear a mask during the flight, which landed in Atlantic City just before 4 p.m., according to Sutton.
Sutton said the flight attendant was neither escorted from the plane nor met by police in the terminal.
"The only thing that happened with the flight attendant was that after two hours of a delay there was a crew change required and somebody captured police who had come to the gate for the general situation locking down the concourse at the same time as this flight attendant was going on to their next assignment," Sutton said.
The TSA requires all passengers over the age of 2 to wear a properly fitting mask during all flights.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ