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'Tremendously traumatizing': family kicked off WestJet flight speaks out

Last Updated Sep 14, 2020 at 11:36 am MST

CALGARY (CityNews) – A young family is speaking out after a trip booked on WestJet left them stranded and traumatized.

Safwan Choudhry said his family is still shaken after a dispute over masks being worn by their three-year-old and 19-month-old children left them stranded for several days and ultimately rebooking their flight home on another airline.

It happened early Tuesday morning when a red-eye flight to Toronto was getting ready to depart from Calgary.

Choudhry said right before takeoff, a flight attendant approached the family and notified them that they needed to put masks on their children, a request he said they did not dispute.

“As you can imagine, given it was a red-eye flight we didn’t want to argue. We were desperate, we just wanted to comply.”

RELATED: Family ordered off WestJet flight after mask issue

A video submitted to CityNews video shows the family’s three-year-old apparently in compliance with rules which require anyone over the age of two to wear a face mask.

“Within a minute, a crew member came back and said you know what we can see that your children still aren’t wearing masks you guys need to leave the plane were already getting late.” said Choudhry. “My wife said ‘give me a moment we will make sure they’re wearing a mask bear with us.”

The airline maintains that the family wasn’t compliant in a timely manner which was delaying the aircraft.

Eventually, Calgary police were called and the Chaudreys and their young children were asked to leave.

That request apparently upset several other passengers.

CityNews reached out to WestJet and although it was unable to comment on matters of privacy or security, the company directed us to a statement which said that the family wasn’t compliant and was asked to voluntary deplane.

“For the safety of everyone on board, once that decision is made it is non-reversible, regardless if a guest decides to suddenly show compliance. As per our normal process, when a guest refuses to deplane voluntarily, our crew will request the presence of authorities to assist. As would be standard procedure while an active investigation is ongoing, the travel privileges of those involved have been suspended until the investigation is complete,” reads the statement.

“The red-eye flight was scheduled to depart at 12:05 a.m. and after taking a 30-minute delay, other guests onboard became upset with the situation and our crew was no longer comfortable operating the flight.”

Choudhry and his family returned home on Friday with what he said was a rather uneventful journey.

He added communication with WestJet has been limited but he did hear from a representative who said they are currently investigating the situation.

“We have the utmost respect for people who are still going to work during this difficult period and carrying out their duties,” said Choudhry.

“Our only concern is as we’re going through this difficult period is we don’t lose our humanity and we don’t lose our dignity and respect for fellow humans.”