A flight was cancelled after a number of passengers refused to wear masks onboard, according to the airline – although the family involved claims they were targeted because their 18-month-old baby was not wearing a face covering.
Frontier Airlines says it was forced to reschedule the service from Miami, Florida, to LaGuardia airport in New York on 28 February because travellers onboard would not comply with its mask rules.
“While flight 2878 from Miami to New York-La Guardia was preparing to leave the gate, a large group of passengers repeatedly refused to comply with the US government’s federal mask mandate,” a Frontier spokesperson told The Independent.
“Multiple people, including several adults, were asked repeatedly to wear their masks and refused to do so. Based on the continued refusal to comply with the federal mask mandate, refusal to disembark the aircraft and aggression towards the flight crew, local law enforcement was engaged. The flight was ultimately cancelled.”
However, one fellow passenger, Hershey Greenbaum, claimed the Hasidic Jewish family involved did nothing wrong, and that they were only singled out because their baby was maskless.
“We were all on the plane when the [flight attendants] came on and saw the 18-month-old baby without a mask,” he told the New York Post.
“All the people on the plane were getting really mad and rowdy because, what are you going to do? It’s an 18-month-old baby.”
Frontier’s mask policy does not apply to children under the age of two. However, the airline emphatically denies this was the reason the passengers were asked to leave.
In a tweet, Frontier Airlines said again that “the issue did not stem from a child under 2”.
Parts of the altercation were filmed, with footage later shared on social media by the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council.
It captioned the video: “Disturbing incident the last hour on a @FlyFrontier flight as staff told a Hasidic couple to get off because their 18-month-old had no mask. Applause is heard as the couple started leaving. Travels say on camera that the applause came from staff who also cheered that ‘we did it’.”
In one video, one passenger can be heard shouting: “This is an anti-Semitic act.”
Frontier Airlines denies allegations of anti-Semitism, confirming its statement that “the matter related purely to the fact that multiple individuals were refusing to wear masks despite repeated requests for them to do so”.
In the videos, the family all appear to be wearing face coverings.