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Wednesday, January 24, 2007Yep, you read that right, AirTran kicked a family off a plane earlier this month. No, not because of breastfeeding, but because the family's three year old threw a temper tantrum and could not be "confined" to a seat.
According to the Chicago Tribune...
"The flight was already delayed 15 minutes and in fairness to the other 112 passengers on the plane, the crew made an operational decision to remove the family," AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver said.
Julie and Gerry Kulesza, who were headed home to Boston on Jan. 14 from Fort Myers, said they just needed a little more time to calm their daughter, Elly.
"We weren't given an opportunity to hold her, console her or anything," Julie Kulesza said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
The Kuleszas said they told a flight attendant they had paid for their daughter's seat, but asked whether she could sit in her mother's lap. The request was denied.
The Kuleszas were rebooked on another flight the next day, had their complete airfare refunded AND were given three future tickets to anyplace that the carrier flies.
The Kuleszas are NOT happy. In fact, they're making a pretty big media stink about the whole ordeal. Google news currently logs more than 300 news articles about the incident. Mr. Kulesza says that they will never fly AirTran again.
As you can imagine, the story is already drawing some comparison to the Emily Gillette incident last fall.
Here's the difference.
Ms. Gillette was seated calmly and quietly in her seat while holding her less than two year old daughter on her lap, per FAA regulations. They were not keeping the plane from taking off, they simply offended a flight attendant.
In the case of the Kuleszas, you have a mother and a father with a three year old that cannot be controlled. The family claims that they simply "needed more time" but you have to consider a few things. First, parents with small children are always welcomed to board early or first. It takes at least 15-20 minutes to board a plane. News stories tell us that the plane was "delayed" for an additional 15 minutes before leaving the gate. That means that the family had a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 35 minutes to get their child under control, or at the very least, strapped in to a seat.
According to AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver "...she was climbing under the seat and hitting the parents and wouldn't get in her seat."
Now, FAA regulations require that a child older than the age of 2 must be sitting in their OWN seat on the plane and must be wearing a seat belt. Thus, the plane could not legally take off before this child was secure in her seat.
There were 117 people on that flight and who knows how many planes being schedule to take off after it. Planes simply cannot sit around at the gate waiting for a 3 year old to finish their tantrum.
I don't blame AirTran in the slightest. I would have removed her as well. The fact that they completely refunded their tickets AND offered them additional tickets seems like more than enough compensation for me.
Let's get one thing straight. Kids have tantrums. If you have a child and your child hasn't had a tantrum at a bad time in a bad place where you can feel like a total fool...give it time. They WILL do it. I don't think there's a parent out there that can't sympathize for the Kuleszas and the frustration they must have felt when their daughter wouldn't cooperate. I certainly do.
HOWEVER, part of being a parent is accepting that sometimes WE have to be inconvenienced in order for other people to get through their days. In my mind, there's a world of difference between being offended at one mom feeding her child and asking another mom to remove her screaming child from a flight that cannot take off while she's on it.
What do you think? Who was right? Should the airlines have waited around until the child could be brought under control? Should the parents have volunteered to leave? Does the airline owe them an apology? Are they simply trying to milk this for some media attention and maybe a "please shut up now" settlement?
What would you have done if you'd been in the Kuleszas shoes?
Hat tip to Mir at BlogHer.
Labels: Life as a Mom