Spirit Airlines is defending its decision to deplane a flight after a Jewish couple and their two children were thrown off a flight because their two-year-old was not wearing a mask while eating on her pregnant mother’s lap.
Spirit requires passengers to wear masks with the exception of children two-years-old and under.
The flight from Orlando, Florida, to Atlantic City, New Jersey, was ultimately delayed more than two hours on Monday after passengers were forced to get off the plane before eventually being allowed back on.
In a viral video shared to Twitter, a flight attendant is seen telling the Jewish family that they needed to “take their stuff” and exit the plane for “non-compliance with the mask policy” while the two-year-old is eating yogurt on her mother’s lap.
“The baby?” The pregnant mother replied.
A woman seated across from the family pointed out that many of the children on the fight were not wearing masks.
“She’s a baby. She just turned 2 a month ago. She’s been trying to wear it,” the mother explained to the attendant.
The parents are heard telling the attendant that their other child is special needs and has seizures.
“We’re done talking. The pilot wants you off, so you have to get off,” the flight attendant said.
The attendant then threatened to call the police before walking away.
In a separate clip, the father said he heard from another passenger that they were planning to remove them from the flight before they even boarded.
“A lady over here heard someone on the phone before we even got on the plane that they were planning this,” he said.
“The captain was okay with it, the entire plane was okay with it but there was one African American that was not okay with it,” he added.
A statement released on Twitter by Spirit Airlines claims “incorrect information” is circulating about the incident.
“We’re aware of incorrect information circulating about Spirit Airlines flight 138 from Orlando to Atlantic City. The flight was delayed due to compliance issues with the federal mask requirement. We allowed our Guests to continue on their flight to the destination after assurances of compliance. The safety of our Guests and Team Members is our top priority,” the airline said.
Moreover, Spirit told Business Insider that they asked the family to exit the plane because the parents were not complying with mask mandates, which the company said was not captured on video.
Additionally, the Orlando police confirmed to Newsweek that they were called by Spirit team members.
“Just before noon today, our officers were called to a general disturbance involving a Spirit Airlines flight scheduled to depart from the Orlando International Airport,” a police spokesperson told Newsweek. “Upon arrival, officers saw that the flight was in the middle of de-boarding. Our officers stood by while Spirit Airlines resolved the issue.”
Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy
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Rep. Matt Gaetz Confronts Speaker McCarthy in Fiery House GOP Meeting
In a closed-door House GOP conference meeting on Thursday morning, tensions flared as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) confronted Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), accusing him and his allies of orchestrating an online campaign against him with the help of “MAGA influencers.”
According to reports from Fox News, the exchange was marked by what was described as “fireworks.” Gaetz directly addressed McCarthy, alleging that “MAGA influencers” had been paid to attack him on social media. McCarthy promptly denied the accusation, dismissing Gaetz’s claims.
Speaker McCarthy dismissed Gaetz’s allegations, indicating that he had no intention of engaging in such activities. In the same meeting, another source revealed that McCarthy questioned Gaetz’s commitment to the GOP’s goals, pointing out that he was personally dedicating his efforts to allocate $5 million to support GOP candidates and members with the aim of strengthening their majority in the near future. McCarthy’s remark seemed to challenge Gaetz regarding his contributions toward achieving a stronger Republican majority.
In response to Gaetz’s allegations, some members of the GOP caucus expressed frustration. According to a second source, one lawmaker told Gaetz to “f— off,” while another referred to him as a “scumbag,” according to reports.
Gaetz confirmed the confrontation to reporters as he exited the meeting, explaining, “I asked him whether or not he was paying those influencers to post negative things about me online.” He also confirmed McCarthy’s response, saying, “Yeah, that is what he said.”
When asked about his feelings toward McCarthy during and after the exchange, Gaetz remarked, “My blood pressure is like 120 over 80. So I’m feeling great.”
A spokesperson for Speaker McCarthy categorically denied any involvement in the alleged online campaign, attributing it to a Democrat-backed entity. In support of this claim, Fox News Digital reportedly obtained a screenshot of a cease-and-desist email sent by McCarthy’s outside lawyer to the individuals allegedly behind the campaign.
Furthermore, the email asserted that the campaign falsely claimed to act on behalf of Speaker McCarthy and his affiliated entities and warned of legal consequences if the actions continued.
The exchange in the House GOP meeting underscores the ongoing tension between Gaetz and McCarthy. Gaetz has been threatening to force a House-wide vote on McCarthy’s speakership, alleging violations of a deal struck to secure McCarthy’s election as Speaker in January.
Under the terms of that compromise, McCarthy agreed to allow any lawmaker to trigger a vote on his removal, known as a “motion to vacate.” While Gaetz had hinted at pursuing such a motion earlier in the week, he sidestepped questions on the matter during the recent meeting with reporters.
In the midst of this contentious atmosphere, Gaetz emphasized his current focus on advancing single-subject spending bills, deflecting inquiries regarding the motion to vacate and maintaining his dedication to legislative efforts.
The confrontation between Gaetz and McCarthy underscores the complex dynamics within the Republican caucus as it navigates internal divisions and confronts ongoing challenges on Capitol Hill.
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