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Confusion over Delta face mask policy causes trouble for one local mom

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 7:59 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Traveling alone with a toddler is already a stressful experience, but the airline face mask policies can cause some big headaches for parents - especially when airline employees are not consistently interpreting the policy the same way.

“I was trying but at the end of the day she is three," said an emotional Krystyn Linville.

Krystyn and her daughter, Finley, were traveling to see her mother in North Carolina. Krystyn, knowing the Delta face mask policy, was prepared for the flight. The mother packed three different masks, a tablet and plenty of snacks for her three-year-old daughter.

After some initial fussiness and a mask selfie, Finley was slowly adjusting - thats when things took a turn.

“Flight attendant was going through her walk through, and I guess Finley’s mask had fallen down, and it was down her chin area," Krystyn told TV20. "She said to me, 'I need you to put her mask on or I am going to call the gate attendant and have you guys removed from the plane – that was the very first sentence she ever said to me.”

Krystyn says the flight attendants continued to harass her and her daughter about the mask throughout the flight, even though Finley only removed her mask when she was snacking - which is allowed.

Snacks that the flight attendants, Krystyn says, did not even want to provide to her - despite other passengers receiving them.

Their constant presence stressed an already frazzled Finley and made the situation worse for the toddler and the mother.

In Atlanta, Krystyn tried to ask someone at Delta customer service about the face mask policy.

“Here is the policy," she told the Delta representative. "I pulled out my phone and went onto Delta’s website, and I showed him the policy, and he said, 'that’s not what the policy said.”

The rep then appeared at the gate at her connecting flight to warn the next flight crew that her daughter “was a problem.”

Krystyn flew on Endeavor Air, which is a Delta partner and abides by Delta policies.

She argued that the part of the face mask policy that exempts ‘young children who cannot maintain a face covering’ fit her situation. The policy even exempts unaccompanied minors from wearing a face mask - those kids ranging from 5 to 17-years- old.

In a statement to TV20, Delta writes: “Wearing a mask or face covering is one of the most important ways customers and employees stay safe while flying. We apologize for any confusion or miscommunication that may have occurred on this trip, and we are in touch with our Delta Connection partner that operated the flight to look in to the situation.”

“There is no federal mandate, so everything is airline to airline,” said Travelers United President and co-founder Charles Leocha. “But not only is it airline to airline, it’s flight attendant to flight attendant.”

Leocha, who works for a travel advocacy group that lobbies in Washington, has seen a spike in cases of families getting kicked off of flights.

“It’s foolishness," said Leocha, who says flight crews should be more reasonable when dealing with younger children.

Although Krystyn says the Delta rep spoke to the second flight crew, the flight attendant on the flight, realizing the situation, offered Finley a bottle of water - which would allow the three-year-old girl to take a break from wearing a mask if she wanted to.

“Just frustrating to not wanting to have this trip taken away from my mom and to not let grown people treat my child the way they were treating her," said Krystyn.

Krystyn and her daughter are set to return home to Gainesville on Friday, and she is anxious about her upcoming trip.

“It is already going to be stressed flying with a toddler. They already present their own challenges, but then to not know if the staff is going to treat us appropriately or treat my daughter appropriately and just be educated or aware of their policy.”

Copyright 2020 WCJB. All rights reserved.

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