Fact check: Story about United Airlines, Black Lives Matter and a toddler is satirical – USA TODAY

As some prepare to board flights across the United States for the Thanksgiving holiday, American Airlines has specific cleaning and sanitization protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on their planes.(Nov. 18) AP Domestic

Social justice remains aconcern forsome Americans. But a post on social media claims an airlinemay have taken its support for the cause too far.

An article in the Babylon Bee, headlined "United Airlines Kicks 2-Year-Old Off Flight For Refusing To Say 'Black Lives Matter,'"claims the airline refused to let a young girl fly after she couldn't pronounce the racial justice expression. The airline supposedly scolded the family of the child in a statement, too, citing its "strict ideological purity requirement" for all flights. Promotion for the article was posted to Instagram.

"We can't let people fly on planes with the fear that a racist baby might be on board," the airline supposedly said. "The family was quickly removed after which we lectured them for 2 hours in the airport terminal."

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The Babylon Bee article is intended to be satire.

The website calls itself the "world's best satire site, totally inerrant in all its truth claims," and there's no evidence United Airlines stopped a family from flying due to a child's inability to say the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

"Satirists often leverage the context of real events to create satirical stories," Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon told USA TODAY. "We do this by modifying the scenario or exaggerating what happened to make a point. See this piece, for example. COVID relief bills have been in the news for some time. We aren't conflating a real story with a fake one by making this joke; rather, we're using real-world events as a basis and context for offering satirical criticism and commentary."

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As Dillon alluded, the satirical article about United Airlines appears to be loosely based on a real-life situation involving United Airlines.

A Dec. 11 video wentviral on Twitter after a womanclaimed her family was kicked off a United Airlines flight from Colorado to New Jersey because her 2-year-old daughter "would not 'comply' andkeep her mask on." She further claimed that she and her family were banned from using the airline due to the disturbance.

United is allowing passengers to change flights scheduled through the end of the year to rebook travel without paying a change fee if they make the change by April 30.(Photo: Jeff Chiu/AP)

The video shows the woman and her husband attempting to put a mask on their 2-year-old who repeatedly covers her face, refusing to wear the mask. The woman calls her daughter "Adeline," which is the same name used in the satire article. The family is then asked to exit the plane by a man who appears to be a flight attendant.

United Airlines told NBC 5 Chicago that it's investigating the incident and made contact with the family, refunding their tickets and returning their items. The airline also said that the family has not been banned, despite the family's claim.

"The health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, which is why we have a multilayered set of policies, including mandating that everyone onboard two and older wears a mask," the airline said in a statement. "These procedures are not only backed by guidance from the CDC and our partners at the Cleveland Clinic, but theyre also consistent across every major airline."

United Airlines requires all passengers "over the age of 2" to wear a face covering.

The satire article likely drew from other airlines' support of the Black Lives Matter movement, too. Both American Airlines and Delta Air Lines created brand-specific "Black Lives Matter" pins for their employees to wear on the job.

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We rate the claim that United Airlines kicked a child off a flight for refusing to say "Black Lives Matter" as SATIRE because it uses irony and exaggeration to criticize an actual event. The article appears to satirize a recent situation in which a family was kicked off a United Airlines flight because its 2-year-old would not wear a face mask.

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Fact check: Story about United Airlines, Black Lives Matter and a toddler is satirical - USA TODAY

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