A Southwest Airlines passenger has sued the company for allegedly kicking her off the plane when she removed her mask to drink water.
Prior to getting on the plane, Reading claims she informed a Southwest employee of her medical conditions including difficulty breathing due to a heart condition, low blood sugar and claustrophobia.
The passenger claimed that drinking water helped with her medical issues, but in the complaint she alleged that before boarding the plane a gate supervisor told her the airline 'does not care' about her disabled status.
Reading was seated at the front of the plane and says she asked a flight attendant for a bottle of water once she was on board. She claimed to have showed the flight attendant her medical exemption card, but was reportedly told again that the airline didn't 'care' and that she must keep her face covering on at all times.
She started drinking the water, and claims she was later shouted at by the flight attendant who accused her of 'talking' when Reading was explaining that she needed a drink, Insider reports.
A gate attendant is said to have then told Reading to get off the flight while an unmasked pilot 'laughed mockingly' at her.
The passenger obliged and left the flight, after which she was allegedly helped by airport police who said the evictions from flights were happening 'far too often', and that the airline responsible was 'usually Southwest'.
According to The Independent, end-of-year data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that 5,981 passenger incidents were reported by airlines in 2021; 4,290 of which related to rules regarding face coverings.
Reading's attorney, Kristina Heuser, has accused Southwest of 'hostile and abusive' conduct and 'COVID insanity'. She claimed a 'planeload full of witnesses' saw the altercation unfold, and that some passengers had videoed the scene.
In response to the allegations, a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said, 'We have no immediate comment to offer on this now-pending litigation, as we make an initial review of the complaint.'
Reading has claimed she was told she was entitled to a full refund of her plane ticket, but that she never received it. In her filing, she sued Southwest for $10 million.
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