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Southwest Airlines Kicks Off a Mother and Toddler From Flight

by Amanda on November 3, 2009
category: 1 – 3 year (toddler),In the news,Travel

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES 737 Last week Southwest Airlines escorted a mother and her 2 year old son off a flight to San Jose, CA, because he was screaming “Go Plane Go!” and “I want Daddy!” according the Associated Press. The crew was concerned that the passengers could not hear the safety briefing to abide within FAA guidelines. The mother, Pamela Root, assured the attendants that her son would be quiet after take off and that she had planned to feed him while in the air. Southwest Airlines has since apologized to the mother, refunded her money, and gave her a $300 dollar voucher for a future flight.

I first heard about this story from a Facebook status of a friend that was applauding Southwest Airlines. Many of the comments of the status were in full agreement with the decision. As a mother of a toddler I was initially flabbergasted and angry.

I understand that the crew had a real concern with the safety announcements, but I really wonder how loud was the child. I read that the crew made offers of juice and colors to calm the boy down.

Some days are better than others when I go out shopping with my toddler. I know when to call it quits and try again at another time. Perhaps this was one of this instances where you just need to try again later, even if you are inconvenienced. Or do you just get through it? Thankfully the mother didn’t have to make a connecting flight or miss any major events.

I am glad that Southwest Airlines apologized, because this could have a set a bad precedent for future flights with kids. It would not be good if any flight attendant could remove families at their discretion for small matters. I wonder what would have happened if this took place in another country?  Cathay Pacific very kind and understanding when I flew with a 7 month old baby. The flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong had several children, but everyone seemed to recognized it was just a fact of life and got through with the flight.

This incident on Southwest Airlines ended up not being a huge deal. The mother flew out the next day which I can only assume to have been a much easier flight, since she and her child did not get kicked off again. I hope it doesn’t happen again to another family. Otherwise, those of us traveling with toddlers may be in for some trouble!

Do you have any traveling stories with toddlers? What would you have done in that situation? Did the attendants make the right decision?

More on traveling with children:

5 Responses to Southwest Airlines Kicks Off a Mother and Toddler From Flight

  • Gravatar
    Comment by SB
    November 3, 2009 @ 8:32 am

    This is the first I have heard of this and I have to give the benefit of the doubt to the crew of Southwest airlines. I think most people are really reasonable and tolerant when it comes to kids and the crew offered things to help settle him down. I think it must have been quite distracting for them to take that action.

    I understand it is hard to travel with kids, but a lot of times it feels like parents just give up and think it’s inevitable that their kids will be loud and disruptive. I think if your kids really are that disruptive perhaps flying isn’t the best thing.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Katie
    November 3, 2009 @ 3:16 pm

    I would hope that the crew was being reasonable, but I’ve read news articles about people being kicked off airplanes because they were breastfeeding, and in my opinion that’s not reasonable. Obviously it’s hard to know without having been there. I find the thought of traveling with my toddler daunting. Not that she’s usually disruptive, but she is a toddler. Flying is a little different from other activities that you can just walk away from if it’s a bad day. To be honest, I also feel nervous about being far away from her doctor, which is silly because it’s not like she’s sickly or anything. Oh yeah, and I’m always wondering if she’ll have ear issues. I do and it hurts a lot. I can’t imagine having a toddler screaming on a flight. The real kicker is that Nick and I love traveling! We’re just more comfortable waiting for now.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Amy V
    November 3, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

    I had not heard this before but my mouth dropped open reading this. I am confused as to how they were offering him things to drink or do if they were doing the safety speech. What if your baby/child was screaming just unsure of doing something new. Would they tell you to get off? I know safety comes first but I also know that a child talking or screaming on a plane has occurred since we started traveling by air with our children. I am glad they apologized but I would be very frustrated if I were her and unless he was unconsolable and I was stressed and at my whit’s end, I would not be o.k. with this. I think they acted too quickly. Most children settle down at some point and it would have been fine. Now, since she seemed to not be too bothered, maybe she was frustrated too and just agreed with their decision. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen often.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Trina
    November 3, 2009 @ 9:34 pm

    This story just made me so mad. My husband is a Pilot he was even horrified at this. Dealing with this is part of the job. Just like any other job has obstacles that we need to deal with. Kicking them off the plane should have not been an option. Saying “Go plane Go” and throwing a fit is part of being a toddler. We drive in our cars as Parents and deal with it when our kids are having issues and want out of the car seat. What is going to come next from this, are they going to have a “No crying Policy” or try and ban breastfeeding as well? I hope this is not taken too lightly and something is done to make sure that this does not happen again.

  • Comment by Sharon M
    November 4, 2009 @ 1:42 am

    Hmmm… not sure how I feel about this one. As someone who has flown many, MANY times with young children, I can sympathize with the mom traveling with a toddler. But, it sounds like she was refusing to feed her child until later (which is a great way to distract children during take-off), and I can’t imagine my two-year old being that loud (or my five year old) on a flight. This is a hard age b/c the kids are still in “training mode,” learning how to control their actions and responses to various stimuli, but, to me, it sounds like the mom could have been a tad bit more prepared to fly with a toddler. Perhaps she should have read TMC’s “Traveling With Children” article first? ;-)

    Amanda, I’ve noticed that flight crews from the Middle East and Far East seem much better prepared to deal with young children than those from the West. I only have “problems” when I’m traveling on European or American flights.

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