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Another Colorado family claims they were kicked off Southwest flight due to son's disability

Kingston Smitley.jpg
Posted at 5:29 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 11:55:15-04

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — Another family says Southwest Airlines refused to let them fly because their child has trouble with masks.

"They called corporate and it wasn’t even a couple of minutes and they were like, 'No, kick them off,'" said Trent Smitley of his experience with Southwest.

This, just a week after Denver7 heard from the Scott family. They told us they too were kicked off a Southwest flight when then the pilot raised concerns over their 3-year-old son with Sensory Processing Disorder, the pilot fearing the child would remove his mask during the four-hour flight back to Denver.

Four days after our story aired, Smitley says his family had a similar experience with the same airline.

"Every single person knew about your story that you guys did last week and they didn’t want another repeat, but yet here we are," said Smitley.

Smitley and his wife Andi, who live in Castle Rock, adopted their new son Kingston on May 6.

"He’s 7 years old with the mentality of a 1-year-old," said Smitley. "He has epilepsy, a malformation of his brain and cerebral palsy."

The day after the family became whole, they took a trip to Utah. It would be the first time Kingston would meet his extended family. They flew Southwest with no issues. It was their return flight with the airline that ruined Mother's Day after the new parents alerted employees of Kingston's condition, explaining that the 7-year-old may struggle at times to keep his mask on.

"They're like, 'Go to the flight attendant and they’ll take care of it.' They stopped us halfway down," said Smitley.

Southwest didn't let them on the plane. Instead, they reimbursed the family for their ticket, forcing the three to get a hotel for the night, rent a car, and drive the ten hours home the next day. Smitley said it cost him nearly $1,000.

"It is vitally important for travelers to indicate well beforehand when they buy their tickets that they have special circumstances that might require special handling," says AAA spokesperson Skyler McKinley.

With summer right around the corner, McKinley recommends if you are traveling with someone with a disability, getting the airlines approval of accommodations in writing is crucial to have, even before booking the flight. He also says booking with a travel agent will provide the muscle to make sure things run smoothly.

"I would say by the time you get to the airport you should be confident that you’ll be able to board your plane without an issue," McKinley explained.

Southwest Airlines did not respond to our request for a comment.