Yesterday Ben Mutzabaugh, in his “In the Sky” blog at USA Today wrote about an incident involving a small child and her parents. Apparently all three were traveling on an AirTran flight. Only one problem. Said child, age 3, refused to stop screaming.
Here’s the text of the blog entry:
AirTran is defending its decision to remove a family from one of its flights after a 3-year-old girl’s parents could not calm her temper tantrum. “After the family boarded an AirTran plane in Fort Myers on Jan. 14 for a flight to Boston, the child became temperamental and refused to take her seat,” the Orlando Sentinel writes in its account of the incident. The girl “was climbing under the seat and hitting the parents and wouldn’t get in her seat,” AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver adds to The News-Press of Fort Myers. Her parents insisted that they could have calmed the girl if they had just been given a little more time. “We weren’t given an opportunity to hold her, console her or anything,” mother Julie Kulesza tells The Associated Press. By federal law, children older than 2 must sit in a seat secured with a seat belt in order for a plane to be cleared for takeoff, according to the Sentinel.
“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,” Graham-Weaver says. The family was refunded their ticket price. The family also was offered free round-trip tickets to anywhere the AirTran flies, which the New-Press says was declined. ABC News quotes the family as saying the flight’s passengers were more sympathetic than the crew, though no other passengers were interviewed for the story. The girl’s grandfather acknowledged that “nobody wants to sit on a plane with a crying child,” but adds “your first attempt should be to remedy the situation before you take a drastic action, and that wasn’t done.” He adds: “My granddaughter is 3. Kids are kids.” Says AirTran’s Graham-Weaver: “We have an obligation to the other passengers to move the plane.”
This story has generated a fair number of emails to me this week, and has become a hot topic on more than one aviation-related email list to which I belong.
So — my question to you this morning is this.
Did AirTran make the right move in this case? Or, if not, what should they have done?
My opinion? I think they did the right thing. However, I’m not sure they went about it in the right way. (Then again, none of us were there and we’re relying on a number of press reports for the info as to how things went down.)
The unfortunate side effect for AirTran is I know if I had a small child and was getting ready to fly, I might think twice before I booked a flight on the airline.