The Monday fight from Orlando, Florida, to Atlantic City, New Jersey, was ultimately delayed more than two hours after passengers were deplaned and the family was allowed to reboard the flight.
A video from a portion of the incident was posted on Twitter, but the full event remains unclear. In one widely shared video, a father, a pregnant mother, and their two children are seen being told to exit the plane. In the video, the mother and father are both wearing masks, though the father is seen removing his at some points to speak with the flight attendant.
One of their children is sitting on the mother’s lap, not wearing a mask, and eating.
Spirit told Insider it directed the family to exit because the parents were not complying with mask mandates, which the company said was not captured on video and came before the widely shared video was filmed.
The airline said it was standard protocol in the airline industry to de-board the entire plane if there was an incident with a passenger. The company also said the couple initially refused to leave, adding that was why it made all the passengers deplane. If the family had agreed to deplane, Spirit said, the rest of the passengers would have remained on board.