And so it begins.
A Calgary to Toronto flight operated by Westjet on Sept. 8th.2020 was delayed, returned to the gate, and subsequently cancelled as a result of alleged non-compliance of mandatory face masking involving a family travelling as mom, pop, and 2 children aged 3 years and 19 months.
Transport Canada rules are clear – any passenger over the age of 2 years must be masked for the duration of flight except for those times spent eating or drinking.
Children under the age of 2 are not required to be masked.
Here’s where the story seems to come unglued.
According to Westjet, the problem child was the 3 year old who was allegedly seated albeit unmasked.
According to the parents, the issue involved the insistence of the cabin crew to have the 19 month old child masked.
A classic – “he said/she said/they said”.
Other than there are published reports of passengers seated nearby that seem to corroborate the parents’ version.
To be clear, the rules are the rules are the rules.
Unless of course you have a medical exemption, are diagnosed with a chronic eating/drinking disorder which requires you ingest for the full duration of the flight, or are a 200 lb. Great Dane certified as a service animal.
In which case no mask is required.
Otherwise it’s a modified version of No Shirt-No Shoes-No Service.
But does it make a whole lot of sense?
Been a while since I’ve lugged a 3 year old on board an aircraft however I seem to recall it being a bit of a challenge at that age to keep shoes and shirts in place for a 1 hour flight.
Memories of Halloween masks been ripped off every 5 minutes or so lead me to suspect there’s not a lot of hope in a 3 year old remaining continuously masked for a 4 hour flight.
European airlines mandate that all passengers over the age of 6 be masked.
Qantas Australia sets the bar at 12 years of age.
Iceland Air – 12 and over.
Cathay Pacific – and if any airline on the planet has extensive experience when it comes to masks it’s Cathay – age 6 and over.
The World Health Organization advises that children aged 5 years and under *not* wear a mask based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use one with minimal assistance.
It seems however Canada has opted to follow the US lead – age 2.
If we’re going to play Follow The Leader – perhaps let’s pick an appropriate leader to follow shall we ?
Whether Westjet’s reaction and handling of the situation is ultimately deemed as measured or appropriate or whether the family in question generated an inappropriate root cause to a bad situation remains to be seen.
At the end of the day however we need to start employing a metric tonne of common sense in order to get started back on the road to some degree of normalcy.
Attempting to mandate a face covering on a small fidgety child for prolonged periods under the auspice of “safety” is just plain ludicrous.
Especially given that this same definition of “safety” allows for a 30 lb. infant to be lap held for the duration of a flight hurtling through the atmosphere at 800 km. per hour without restraint.
Airline crews have enough stress to deal with these days without putting them in the precarious position of having to enforce a regulation that is questionable at best.
Transport Canada needs to perhaps take a fresh look at whether an unmasked 3 year old on board a flight within our territorial boundaries poses a greater risk than does an onboard brawl amongst polarized adults when said 3 year old acts as most of us can predict he or she will.
Much safer for a 3 year old to act like a 3 year old than to have the police break up a group of adults acting like 3 year olds.
For *that* we’ve got the House of Commons.
Adios until next time.