A New York City mother traveling with her six children was kicked off of a JetBlue flight Wednesday after her 2-year-old daughter would not wear a mask as the airline requires.
Chaya Bruck, a Brooklyn resident, documented the episode that occurred on a flight from Orlando to Newark in a video posted to Facebook. It had more than 2,400 views by early Thursday afternoon.
"Shame on you" JetBlue, she wrote on Facebook, "for harassing me and kicking me off with my 6 children." Bruck said her 2-year-old "would not cooperate and wear a mask."
Bruck, 39, did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.
She alleges in the post that the airline's in-flight crew members were "nothing but bullies" who treated her and her family inhumanely. She also claims that the company's written policy posted on its website states that "young children who are unable to wear a mask are exempt."
JetBlue's website says all travelers who are at least 2 years old must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth throughout their journey — including during check-in, boarding, while in flight and deplaning to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Other major airlines also have mask policies.
"Masks with vents or exhalation valves are not permitted," Jet Blue's policy states. "Plastic face shields may be worn in addition to a face covering but not in place of one."
JetBlue advises on its website that customers with conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering postpone travel "until this temporary requirement is no longer in place." The airline also requires that all crew members wear masks while boarding, in flight and when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Bruck alleges in her Facebook post that it was announced on the loudspeaker on the plane that children who are unable to wear a mask are exempt.
In the nearly 3-minute video, passengers quickly came to her defense after she was asked to leave the plane.
"Do you realize she is 2?" Bruck can be heard saying about a minute into the video.
"I do," a crew member responds. "And I also ... It's not something that we can excuse."
"Should I tie her hands? What should I do?" Bruck asks. "Should I hold her hands?"
"We have to deplane," the crew member tells her. Bruck refuses. "No. I am not going to deplane. I can try my best." She asks the crew member if it is a problem if the child has a pacifier in her mouth.
She also says that she has six children and that her luggage is on the plane. "Come up with us now," the crew member says, which draws loud responses from other passengers.
"She didn't do anything wrong," a male voice can be heard saying in the video.
Bruck again refuses to get off the plane. "I have six kids," she says. "I am not going anywhere."
"I swear this will be in the media," she also says. "My husband is an attorney and I swear to you guys, this will be in the media."
The crew member again tells Bruck that face coverings are a requirement.
"OK. So I'll put on her mask," Bruck says.
"It's already too late," the crew member responds, prompting passengers to again loudly express support for Bruck and question why she has to get off the plane.
A passenger can be heard telling the crew member that JetBlue's website says children are exempt from masks. The crew member tells the passenger only children younger than 2 are exempt.
The video ends with passengers yelling in defense of Bruck. All of the passengers were then told to leave the plane but, with the exception of Bruck and her children, were able to get back on. The flight was delayed a little less than an hour.
In a statement Thursday, a spokesman for Jet Blue, Derek Dombrowski, said the safety of crew members and customers is its first priority and that the airline has "quickly introduced new safety policies and procedures throughout the pandemic."
JetBlue's policy was updated most recently on Aug. 10, "to ensure everyone is wearing a face covering — adults and children alike — to help prevent the spread of coronavirus," Dombrowski said.
He added that the policy is consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that "masks should not be worn by children under the age of 2."
Dombrowski said all customers receive an email before their flight outlining the latest safety protocols and face covering policies.
"We have a flexible rebooking policy for those who are unable to meet this requirement, and customers who refuse to follow these standards after requests from crew members will be reviewed for further travel eligibility on JetBlue," Dombrowski said.
Bruck told NBC New York she hopes JetBlue will change its policy to accommodate children who struggle to keep a mask on.