A flight from Calgary to Toronto in Canada was cancelled early on Tuesday morning local time, after a “horrific and dehumanising” dispute broke out between authorities and a young family over mandatory masks.
Safwan Choudhry took to social media to share a video on-board the WestJet flight, where authorities wanted his 19-month-old to wear a mask, but the baby girl would not stop crying.
His three-year-old apparently complied with the mask wearing, however, the airline says the toddler was not.
It is understood Mr Choudhry’s eldest daughter was eating a snack before takeoff when flight attendants approached his family and requested that both children wear a mask before takeoff.
According to the BBC, Mr Choudhry asked cabin crew if his daughter could finish her snack.
The cabin crew allegedly refused the request, stating they had a “zero tolerance policy” and would not close the aeroplane door without her wearing a mask.
“Most children you have to kind of ease them into it, which is a code word for let me get the iPad out,” he told the BBC, noting his youngest got so upset she vomited.
“My younger one had a very difficult time, she was basically hysterical.
“My wife said, ‘Give me a few moments,’ as she’d never put a mask on a child so little before and then my daughter naturally starts to panic.”
In an interview with Global News, Calgary police officers arrived and entered the cabin of the aircraft, but were only there as backup and no charges were laid. Mr Choudhry alleges that the flight attendants on board the WestJet flight were aggressive, and said that if their children were unable to comply the whole family would have to leave the aircraft.
WestJet, however, claims the reason for the dispute was over the three-year-old not putting a mask on.
“Due to noncompliance of the parents to place a mask on their older child who is over the age of two, our crew informed the adults of the regulations we are required to follow,” a statement read, according to the BBC.
“Our crew requested the presence of the authorities after the guests refused to comply with Transport Canada’s interim order and subsequently refused to deplane the aircraft.”
The video, however, shows the older daughter wearing a mask on the plane.
Mr Choudhry said he received a mixed reaction from fellow passengers on board, saying that while some were angered over the dispute others were “overwhelmingly” concerned despite the flight being cancelled.
“Due to the rapid escalation of the situation on board, our crew felt uncomfortable to operate and the flight was subsequently cancelled,” WestJet said.
In the video, some passengers can be heard intervening and yelling commentary at the police. It is understood no charges were laid.