Southwest passengers booted over mask dispute get a lift from small-plane pilot

Erik Harvey posted a video on Facebook saying he, his wife Michelle, and son Jackson, 2, were set to embark on a Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Austin on April 1.

Prior to their trip, the family practiced having Jackson put on the face-covering because federal law requires all customers aged 2 and over to wear a mask. 

But “every time he threw it off,” Michelle told FOX 7 of Austin.


Erik Harvey says Jackson finally managed to put his mask on at the airport, and the family was able to board the flight.

“Everything was going swimmingly … until it wasn’t,” Harvey noted. 

He said that’s when Jackson sat down, threw off the mask and “was done wearing it.”

“The flight attendant comes over and she says, ‘Ma’am he’s not wearing his mask, you’re gonna have to leave the plane,'” Harvey said. After pleading that they could try to hold the mask up to Jackson’s face, the family said they were again told to leave due to federal regulations aimed to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“So we gathered up our things … and we walked off of that plane in a daze,” Harvey added in the Facebook video

Southwest released a statement on the incident to FOX 7

“We regret the inconvenience this family experienced on their recent Southwest Airlines trip. However, federal law requires all Customers two and over to wear a face mask while at the airport and on board the aircraft. This is communicated to Customers in multiple areas including during the booking process, checking in, boarding, and pre-flight messaging. Our Customer Relations Team has reached out to the Customers to further discuss the situation. We appreciate the ongoing support and spirit of cooperation among Southwest Customers and Employees as we take care of each other while striving to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the statement read. 


Following the incident, James Peck, an old family friend and pilot of seven years, watched the Facebook video and decided to help. 

“I knew that I could use that as a great excuse to go take a flight and help them out and get them here,” Peck told FOX 7. “I have a family of my own and it’s not impossible to get your kids to be awesome on a flight, but to get them to be able to keep a mask on the entire time has its challenges.”

Peck flew his twin-engine airplane to Denver, picked up the family, and flew them to Austin at no charge. He even offered to take the family back to Denver at the end of their trip.

“The miracles will come to you, things will show up, and that Good Samaritan will show up,” said Harvey.

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