KEY POINTS

  • Medora Clai Reading said she was kicked off her flight on Jan. 7
  • She claimed she has a medical condition that requires her to stay hydrated
  • The airline hasn't made any comments on the lawsuit filed by the passenger

A Florida woman has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Southwest Airlines, claiming she was kicked off a flight for removing her mask to drink water.

Medora Clai Reading, 68, said she was ordered to be removed from the flight bound for Palm Beach, Florida, from Washington, D.C. on Jan. 7.

The passenger claimed she has "a heart condition, severe hypoglycemia, claustrophobia and is subject to fainting spells." She said she needs to take a sip of water constantly to stay hydrated.

Despite being informed about her medical condition, the crew member insisted that she should wear the mask at all times, Reading alleged in the lawsuit, as per New York Post.

According to the lawsuit, Reading notified the booking agent that she is medically required to drink water constantly and even requested a medical accommodation for the flight as her disabilities are "triggered by wearing a face covering."

Though the booking agent said no exemptions from the mask mandate could be given, Reading was allegedly told she could board the plane on priority for an "early bird" fee, sit in the front of the cabin and remove her mask to eat and drink.

However, after reaching the airport, the gate supervisor allegedly told Reading that airline "does not care" about her disability and no accommodations could be made. She was then asked to discard a drink she bought at the gate.

When Reading asked for some water after boarding the aircraft, the flight attendant allegedly asked if she needed to take medication. The passenger explained her medical condition and offered to present a medical exemption card, but while handing over the water, the crew member allegedly told her, "We don't care," reported Business Insider.

Reading also alleged that the flight attendant "reprimanded" her for slipping the mask down to drink water and that the same personnel told her, "Your face covering must remain in place at all times."

When Reading explained that she did that to drink water that was given to her, the crew member allegedly shouted at her, saying, "You were talking!"

When the situation escalated, the gate attendant came aboard and informed Reading that she was being removed from the aircraft.

Reading claimed that while she was being taken off from the flight, along with her companion, she noticed that the "unmasked" pilot "laughed mockingly" at her.

She also accused the airline of being "hostile and abusive," noting that its conduct reflected a "COVID insanity."

Reading then said the airline's conduct should not override federal laws protecting passengers with medical disabilities.

Southwest Airlines has not made any comments on the lawsuit. However, a representative of the company told New York Post that they follow a "federal mask mandate requiring that a qualifying mask be worn throughout travel" and "communicate the requirement directly with traveling passengers multiple times ahead of their check-in."

"We share in onboard announcements that these coverings may be briefly lowered for a sip of a beverage or to take a bite of a snack, a practice that has become commonplace and familiar to millions of air travelers every week across the globe," the representative explained.

Southwest Airlines plans to trim back its plans while it hires more people Southwest Airlines Photo: AFP / KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI