I-Team Exclusive: Family wants apology from Southwest Airlines


LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Las Vegas mother says she was treated unfairly on a Southwest Airlines flight while she says she complied with the mask mandate.

Summer Wenzl says she and her mother, Rebecca Wood, wore face coverings, but she didn’t have one for her daughter, Rebecca.

“She has a rare genetic condition,” Wenzyl revealed.

She says her child wasn’t required to wear a face covering on their outbound flight. When she was informed she had to on the four-hour flight from Atlanta to Las Vegas, she asked if there were exceptions for her daughter’s medical condition.

“She’s about the size of one and a half to 2-year-old,” Wenzl explained.

The answer was no.

She was provided a face covering and a paper, stating anyone over the age of two must wear a face covering, which can be briefly removed to eat, drink or take medicine.

“Like, okay, I’m gonna stay on the plane,” Wenzl said. “I’m gonna follow this policy. I’m gonna make her put the mask on.”

She and her mother say what followed wasn’t just enforcement. They describe harassment.

The I-Team asked Wenzl how many times they checked on her from the time she put a mask on her daughter to when they were getting off the plane. Wood replied:

“I would say between the two flight attendants, there was at least 10-12 times, maybe.”

They say the child had to show the food inside her mouth twice.

“She is having some snacks. She’s eating,” Wenzl recounted, “and, she’s like, ‘Is she really?'”

“I said, ‘Rebecca, show her your food AGAIN, so she opened her mouth. She says, ‘I don’t see any food in there, kid you not, I said, ‘Okay, spit your food into nana’s hand,” Wood shared.

When the flight was over, they say other passengers showed support.

“I have traveled a lot. I have never experienced the disrespect and harassment that we did experience on this flight,” said Wenzl. “It was traumatic for my daughter. It is gonna affect the way that she travels, the way that we travel.'”

Wenzl and Wood want an apology, and they did complain to Southwest.

The I-Team reached out to the airline, and a spokesperson wrote in an email:

Although we cannot discuss specific information regarding Customers, our Customer Relations Team is looking into this particular situation to learn more about what may have occurred.  We can share that Southwest Airlines requires all Customers over the age of two to wear a face covering or face mask while traveling to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19. 

We communicate this policy to all Customers at multiple touchpoints throughout the travel journey including during booking, in a pre-trip email sent prior to departure, and during a required acknowledgement that’s part of the Customer Health Declaration Form which appears during the check-in process on the Southwest app, Southwest.com, Southwest’s mobile website, and airport kiosks.

Caring for others with our Southwest Hearts is at the center of everything we do, which is especially important during this pandemic. We appreciate the ongoing support and spirit of cooperation among our Customers and Employees as we collectively take care of each other while striving to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

Southwest Airlines spokesperson

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