Cathay Pacific Thinks Your Kid's Car Seat Is A Security Threat

James writes:

We were kicked off the 747-400 because they refused to allow a car seat on board and my two year old son was incapable of staying in his coffin-like seat. We were told we were a security threat, threatened to be left behind and accused of not following crew instructions.

We were flying back from China on a vacation that was business related. I had my wife, Christine, our baby sitter Kathleen and our two boys, Max, age five (5) and Rex age two (2). We flew to China by Cathay Pacific. We took on our child’s FAA approved car seat and with Rex strapped in he slept the entire way to Hong Kong. Such was not be the same on the way back.

We flew business class. I paid nearly $20,000 just for the tickets. Full fare each way. So we get aboard the new 747-400 and the seats are arranged in a herringbone pattern. Walls separate each seat from each other like little coffins. I put the car seat in and began to get Rex in his seat when I am told no car seats allowed. I explained that Rex is 2. He does not have the mental capacity to sit alone and the seats that they have would strangle him or allow him to unbuckle himself. There is a three point harness on the 747-400 that is at the right level to strangle children. When I had no luck in demonstrating that the seat was FAA approved and was the only safe way to fly, two fellow passengers stepped in: an attorney from Fulbright & Jaworski and another passenger who heads a hedge fund came to our aid to negotiate with the airline. I took the car seat out as they requested and then sat Rex in his seat – as if right on cue, he reclined the entire chair flat and unbuckled himself – we did this three times.

First class seats that had forward facing chairs were not offered to us.

After 30 minutes the captain eventually comes down and seemed to agree that the car seat was the safest. Yet his crew told him the rules, the rules must be followed (I guess that is what you get in a communist country) so faced with a crew who refused to allow us to use the car seat – the captain takes a vote of his crew – they kicked us off.

We are taken from the plane and not told of making any new arrangements. My wife is crying, my son Max who loved the seats was traumatized. Rex was loving the attention and I was left feeling helpless. I was, as father the guy who remains calm, who has the answers and relies on logic and reason – yet, here I was thousands of miles away from justice and a bill of rights and totally at the mercy of the Cathay Pacific manager, Andrew Man. I was essentially alone and had to put up the face of cool, calm and collect Jim Daily. It was all that I could bear. I stood at the window looking out at the 747 as it pulled away while surrounded by Cathay Pacific employees.

The Airport Duty Manager, Mr. Andrew Man was introduced to us. In our conversation he threatened my wife and I. He told us we were a security threat – that we had violated an order of the crew (he never told us what since we followed everything they asked us to do) He told us we were not going to get on any other flights and continued to claim we were somehow a threat -to date we know of no order that we failed to follow.

I believe that people need to know that the Boeing 747-400 is unsafe for travel by children. That the airline has no capability of providing for a toddler and no answer to the problem of an incompetent individual sitting aboard their plane. The airline allowed our son to fly in his car seat from the USA – they sold our son the ticket – then without our knowledge, without any input from us or warning to us at anytime, they refused him the only safe way to fly. Further they had all sorts of rules, but no common sense.

Threatening my family because they had no answer – how does a toddler fly if not on his car seat strapped in so he cannot let himself out?

Here is the e-mail I wrote while in their custody awaiting another flight…they did get us out on another aircraft that had all forward facing seats.

Dear Mr. Man:

Thank you for speaking to me after our my wife Christine, son Maxwell age (5), son Rexford age (2) and our baby sitter, Kathleen D. were told to disembark from the plane because our son Rexford would not be able to sit in his car seat and risked injury to himself and others by his being placed into his seat unattended.

You have advised me that I, my wife, our sons or our baby sitter violated a safety regulation by not following the instructions of captain or crew. The actual allegation of what we did or did not do was not clear to me.

Nevertheless I disagree with any such claim and would appreciate a copy of any such report of the incident so that I may address such claim directly.

Please forward a copy of any such report to my office. I reiterate that we followed all directions from the crew. When they told us to stow the car seat, we did. The delay, if any, was that our son kept getting out of his seat. This did not make us feel that our child was safe in such situation and we addressed that with your crew and the captain. Our son Rex sat alone in the seat and unbuckled himself no less than three times while your crew was there. We were never informed before boarding that car seats were not allowed and we do not believe that your plane was designed for children age 2 to sit in business class – the seats are unsafe at any speed. A child is subject to strangulation or decapitation by sitting in such seat. Car seats are the safest seat for them. Your company should revisit its policy in this regard.

We look forward to an uneventful flight out. The entire affair has left us exhausted, stressed and saddened by the entire experience. We hope that some good will come of this.

Please contact me if you are interested in any further information concerning this matter. Our home phone number is [redacted]

Best Regards,

James D.

The airline staff being misinformed about the car seat is one thing, but there’s no need for the airport manager to get all huffy and tell James that he poses a security threat. At best, that’s uncalled for and at worst its an abuse of airport procedures. Oh, you’re disagreeing with me? You must be a security threat. Someone call the 9/11 commission.

Comments

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  1. sonichghog says:

    “Someone call the 9/11 commission.” Ben, This happened in China, not the USA.

  2. B says:

    747-400s unsafe for children? I know what kind of plane I’m requesting next time I fly.

  3. JustAGuy2 says:

    Well, here’s one solution: put the 2 year old and the babysitter in coach. No need for a car seat there, and the babysitter can look after the 2 year old.

  4. kepster says:

    Ugh. Babies on a long flight are bad enough- a baby in Business Class is unacceptable. I’m sure the other passengers were happy that baby Rexford somehow posed a security threat.

    That said, yeah, the airline should have made sure they could accomodate the kid before they sold the ticket.

  5. watchout5 says:

    If you pay upwards of $20,000 for your seats and whatever your doing isn’t negatively impacting anyone or anything there should be no reason why you can’t do it. I think the best you can do is make a big stink out of it here and hope that people won’t feel comfortable investing in a child hating corporation. While they might not hate children what else can we conclude from such an insolent? Maybe if they respond we can take it from there.

  6. MercuryPDX says:

    @sonichghog: Quick! Someone get that child a lead-based-paint covered toy!

    So the car seat that WAS fine going over WAS NOT fine coming back… because of the type of plane providing service? That’s a head scratcher because you can’t really argue “How do you think we got it here in the first place?”.

    FAA approved should mean just that, and apply across all manner of commercial aircraft that would allow/require the use of car seats.

  7. Buran says:

    What part of “FAA approved” do these people not understand? And since when did the captain not have final authority regarding what’s safe? I hope this guy gets what he deserves — a sincere apology and a new ticket.

  8. Youthier says:

    Special arrangement in the new Business Class*- No baby car seat can be used in the new Business Class

    Due to safety and regulatory requirements, no baby car seat can be used in the new Business Class

    * The new Business Class will be progressively introduced in B744, A340, A330 and B777-300ER

    I’m curious whether he bought tickets before or after the policy went into effect.

  9. TheSeeker says:

    How did he get home or is his family living in a Chineese airport like Tom Hanks did in that one movie?

  10. CaptainConsumer says:

    Growing up as a small child I KNEW when I was a grown up I wanted obscene amounts of power, virtually unchecked, over other people. For years I dreamed of being a police officer or local prosecutor.

    Now, after 9/11 I’m trying to become an airline employee

  11. youbastid says:

    “we do not believe that your plane was designed for children age 2 to sit in business class”

    Call me foolish, but maybe that’s because children age 2 don’t have any business to conduct?

  12. cde says:

    @Buran: China’s version of the FAA actually has teeth and rules are rules, even a pilot can’t override them.

  13. Ashcan says:

    I have a feeling that “FAA Approved” means nothing to Cathay Pacific, a non-US based airline. If you want to claim “FAA approval” of something, you may have to be on a U.S. based airline company for them to take it seriously.

  14. pegr says:

    “Vacation that was business related”?

    Babysitter?

    “Business-class” seats?

    This guy is a spoiled wanker. (Who admittedly was subjected to some pretty nonsensical crap!)

    Hey Oppressor-of-Chinese-laborers! Fly your own plane the next time you want to siphon off the savings of the middle class! Enrich the godless commies while you’re at it!*

    *I keed! I keed! ;)

  15. Ashcan says:

    @HeyHermano: Great catch!

  16. typetive says:

    Looks like Cathay changed the posted policy on their website sometime between February 2007:
    [web.archive.org]

    and May 2007:

    [web.archive.org]

    I don’t know when James bought his ticket.

  17. MercuryPDX says:

    @HeyHermano: Well, there you go. :)

  18. Buran says:

    @cde: “Rules are rules”? Tell that to the people who died from poisoned cough syrup.

  19. TWSS says:

    I feel sorry for the guy, even if he didn’t read the fine print.

    On the other hand, I want to punch his neck in for naming a kid “Rexford”.

  20. jacques says:

    I like that the fella wanted to be upgraded to first class for free to accommodate his breaking of the rules.

    Travel tip #18: If you’re traveling abroad and bitch that you’re a US citizen and that US rules must apply to you, your service level will go down, not up.

    Also, if I had paid that kind of money to be flying business class and your kid who can’t sit still BEFORE the plane takes off is in the process of being kicked off, you can bet the whole $20,000 you paid for the tickets I wouldn’t be coming to argue on your behalf.

  21. JustAGuy2 says:

    @HeyHermano:

    We’ll never know if the crew actually told the OP this or not, I guess.

  22. homerjay says:

    Boy, for a guy that can afford to send his whole family back and forth to china on business vacation, he really has shitty grammar and writing skills.

  23. Buran says:

    @pegr: you’re a “spoiled wanker” when you get thrown off a plane and called a “security threat” for having an FAA-approved car seat, for being treated like crap by the staff, for having done nothing wrong, for having done your best to try to resolve the situation?

    Fortunately, if it’s a full-fare ticket, you can get it refunded. Do so. Book with someone else. Send CP the proof of this and tell them why they lost you as a customer.

  24. canerican says:

    @watchout5: Well, I disagree, if you are breaking the rules, it doesn’t matter whether or not you think the rule makes sense.

    The writer needs to get over it, if he would have followed the rules and not tried justify himself (not all rules are easily justifiable, why can I go 35 but not 37 – 37 is surely not too dangerous on a clear day on a straight non-residential road). The rules are set, just use common sense and obey them. And like someone said, send the babysitter and the rugrats to coach where they belong not business class where they will whine and cry about being in a coffin.

  25. esqdork says:

    Just curious, but what is the siginificance of an attorney and someone who heads a hedge fund for his story?

  26. Infe says:

    Sometimes you just have to suck it up…one time would be when you’re stranded in China :o

    The kid would probably bawl half the way home because I would tan his butt each time he unbuckled himself, sadly, that would be about the only option. But he would stay in the damn seat…

  27. ClayS says:

    The seats cannot accommodate a car seat, and that is explained on the airline website, yet he is surprised that he was not allowed to break the rule?

    If the crew had allowed him to use the car seat and the child was injured, who would bear responsibility?

  28. KogeLiz says:

    Geez, he could probably just afford his own jet.

    I couldn’t really read this long complaint because I was too disturbed by the underage cheerleader crotch shots from a Gawker Art add. ughh.

  29. neithernor says:

    I’ve never flown business class before, but it’s comforting to know that if I ever do, according to Consumerist commenters I will deserve the worst treatment possible for having the audacity to purchase the ticket.

    Editors, maybe you should start leaving out more identifying details from stories to forestall the wave of “that rich guy deserved it” comments.

  30. theblackdog says:

    @KogeLiz: Firefox with Adblock is your friend.

  31. youbastid says:

    @neithernor: Sure, there are the “rich guy deserved it” comments, but he is acting like a spoiled child. The fact that he seems completely powerless to stop his child from reclining the seat and unbuckling himself furthers the case against him. Then he goes on to say that the kid could have been decapitated. Buddy, if the plane stops fast enough to decapitate your child, chances are he wasn’t gonna make it anyway.

  32. Pylon83 says:

    The fact the car seat is FAA approved has little, if any, relevance. This occurred in China, on a non-US carrier. The FAA has no jurisdiction there. While one could say that the FAA approval means that it’s safe to use on an airplane, different countries have different standards. So the Chinese may deem it unsafe. However, in this situation it seems that the aircraft layout prohibits its use. From a customer service standpoint, Cathay probably should have upgraded them to first class, since given the fact they are slowly rolling out this new business class it would be difficult to know if the plane on a given flight would have been upgraded. The guy does sort of come across like a self-entitled prick, but I’m sure some of it is just blowing off steam.

  33. Womblebug says:

    @canerican: If this was a stated and enforced rule, why did they allow his child to use the seat on the flight over?

    And to those of you who think a child should not be allowed in business class – start your own airline and have a no kids policy, if you want. I’ve had my kid in business class and I’ve had her in coach. She was more relaxed and happy in business class because of the room , just like I was. She didn’t bother anyone (in either coach or business) because I, as a responsible parent, spent the whole flight watching, correcting, and entertaining her, as all parents should. Good on these people for paying their babysitter to accompany them, for this very reason. If I have the cash and I want my family to be comfortable, I’ll be in first or business class, and if you don’t like it, -you- move to coach.

  34. Pylon83 says:

    @womblebug:
    If you read the link above, you’ll notice the SOME of Cathay’s 747′s have a new business class arrangement that prohibits the safe use of car seats. I do, however, agree with your rant about the people who seem to think children should be kept out of business class. As a childless person, I HATE it when parents cannot control their bratty, loud kids, but those who can should not be prohibited as a whole from such places.

  35. RogueSophist says:

    I think we’re all ignoring the real issue here: “Rexford”? Ugh.

  36. maximeyocks says:

    @B: Ha!!! Here here!!!

  37. MickeyMoo says:

    Rexford? I suspect the 2yo has a life ahead of problems far exceeding being kicked out of BusinessClass. I pity the poor souls that paid $5000.00 a head to sit next to your fidgety child (whom I assume, with the name Rexford a personal nanny, and a family that vacations BusinessClass on the company dime, must be a holy terror for 5 minutes much less a 13hour flight.)

  38. MickeyMoo says:

    @MickeyMoo: Correction $6,256.09 a head

  39. telarium says:

    @womblebug:

    Just because you have the cash doesn’t entitle you to disturb my time at the expense of your family’s comfort. I will be the first one to complain — and only hope that you don’t listen to and comply with the flight crew — so I can see you being dragged off the plane into the arms of the police, whose role is to seemingly babysit those that can’t do it themselves. I’ll be in first or business class, and if I don’t like it, -you get the boot.

  40. jtheletter says:

    @HEYHERMANO excellent catch however the story says they were flying in a 747-400. The no-children business class policy lists “B744, A340, A330 and B777-300ER” planes. I’m not familiar with plane naming lingo but it looks to me like the 747-400 is not on that list. Can someone explain if the 747-400 is a subclass of planes on that list? Otherwise it seems like this new regulation has no bearing on the plane they were traveling in.

  41. Womblebug says:

    @Pylon83: I would understand if the configuration of the seats prevents the use of the car seat. However, I’d expect to be made aware of this before I booked the flight, or if the plane had to be used unexpectedly, I would expect compensation or a replacement flight (assuming of course I had indicated that I was flying with a child and a car seat, and assuming the airline was bright enough to include this indicator if some of their planes won’t handle the seats).

    I also think it’s interesting that either Cathay or Boeing, or both in conjunction, are outfitting planes with seats that effectively eliminate particular customers. Would be more honest to just tell people their little kids aren’t welcome, IMHO.

  42. Womblebug says:

    @telarium: No, I don’t get the boot for your comfort, asshole. I get the boot if I or my child cause a disturbance or safety issue for the plane or crew. And I doubt that your complaining about my child will automatically cause the flight crew to boot me.

    Maybe they’ll just put some Benadryl in your martini so none of us have to listen to your whining.

  43. belden says:

    Maybe this is a common occurrence or my experience was just coincidentally related but coming home after Christmas I also happened to find myself on a 747-400 and saw nearly an identical situation play out. In fact, that’s why I clicked on the headline, because I thought maybe it was the same plane I was on.

    We were waiting for takeoff and I became aware that there was a commotion going on a few rows in front of me. I didn’t really care, I was thinking more about the flight, but I heard some raised voices and that the flight crew was involved. Apparently some parents had brought their car seat for their child but it was too large to fit in the seat and could not be safely used. And so the airline demanded that it be taken and placed in the cargo hold with the checked baggage which did not seem to make the parents very happy because they were worried about it getting damaged and because their child was now, as they felt, unsafe. The end result was that the airline got its way and the flight crew basically said “If you don’t like it write a letter.”

  44. Pylon83 says:

    @jtheletter:
    The 744 is a 747-400, it’s abbreviated that way. Perhaps Cathay should explain that on the site.

  45. telarium says:

    @womblebug:
    “Maybe they’ll just put some Benadryl in your martini so none of us have to listen to your whining.”

    Seems like you’re familiar with this situation. Man, I’d LOVE to be YOUR kids.

  46. Pylon83 says:

    @womblebug:
    They are not eliminating a particular class of customers from the entire airplane, just a particular portion of it. Notice it doesn’t say “no children”, it just says no car seats in Business Class. It makes no mention of Coach or First class.

  47. Womblebug says:

    @Pylon83: True, but if you travel with a child two or under, unless you want to have them in your lap for the whole flight, your only other option is to purchase a seat and have them ride in their car seat. For an overseas flight, this basically does prohibit kids two and under from flying in business class.

  48. krztov says:

    seriously.. how much is a private flight? i mean that kind of money for a one-off flight and he flew commercial airlines? seriously?

    for 20k id call superman to fly me there at mach 3 or something lol.

  49. Pylon83 says:

    @womblebug:
    Exactly. It prohibits them from flying in BUSINESS class. It doesn’t keep them off the plane entirely. In fact, on a 3 class airplane (coach, business, first), it only makes 1/3 of the plane off-limits. This seems entirely reasonable to me.

  50. Pylon83 says:

    @krztov:
    Private from NY to London would probably be over $50k. No matter how you slice it, commercial is almost always cheaper, especially to international destinations.

  51. newspapersaredead says:

    Lets make a new rule: No kids on airplanes until potty trained and learn how to sit still and keep conversation to a normal volume for duration of plane ride. That should eliminate any ‘necessity’ of having a CAR SEAT on an AIRPLANE.

  52. Womblebug says:

    @Pylon83: Would it seem entirely reasonable to you if 1/3 the plane was off limits to the elderly? Minorities? Women? Why is it okay for it to be off limits to infants?

    I’m not going to suggest that flying next to infants or toddlers is anyone’s idea of a good time; I know it can be difficult. (Particularly for the parents, if they give a damn about keeping their kids in check). But what happened to this guy is wrong, wrong, wrong. And unless you let me know before I book and pay for my ticket that I can’t bring a car seat on board, yeah, I’m going to raise hell.

  53. Klink says:

    How did they get back? What about the American Embassy?

  54. ahwannabe says:

    @esqdork: The significance is that attorneys and hedge fund managers are Big Important Guys Who Make Lots Of Money. Or something.

  55. MercuryPDX says:

    @jtheletter: There is no B744 (B stands for Boeing), so if it’s not an abbreviation (Pylon83), it’s a typo:

    [boeing.com]

    (Bonus fact: A3xx – A stands for Airbus)

  56. Pylon83 says:

    @MercuryPDX:
    It’s not a typo, it’s an abbreviation for 747-400. A B742 is a 747-200, a B744 is a 747-400. It’s an FAA abbreviation and it is correct, albeit maybe misused.

  57. coren says:

    @MickeyMoo: Wouldn’t that mean he paid 30, and not 20 grand for this trip?

  58. Pylon83 says:

    @womblebug:
    You’re arguing apples to oranges. It is the design of the seat arrangements that make car seats unsafe. They are not saying “no kids”, they are just saying “no car seats”. You even admitted that you could hold the child on your lap. So they are not summarily prohibited from flying in business class, they just have to be in a lap or their own seat. Further, if you will read what I wrote, I did agree with you on the fact that this guy got screwed. Unless he was aware that there was a chance the child could not be in the seat in business class, he should have been accommodated.

  59. coren says:

    @youbastid: The description of the seats sound like you couldn’t really influence the child’s behavior to begin with. And just in my experience, but making a two year old do anything for more than a couple hours is a hard prospect (and this’d be what, a ten hour flight? Fifteen? I’m not sure)

  60. Womblebug says:

    @Pylon83: This is true (despite the fact that no sane adult would want to hold a small child on their lap for that long a flight). One wonders why they would design their seats this way. Maybe their normal clientele prefers the coffin design? I don’t know, I don’t have that kind of cash to spend on a flight. =)

  61. coren says:

    @ClayS: So, then, did he fly another type of plane over? Or was he somehow demonstrating the car seat in midair? Cuz he flew over with it just fine, and is apparently showing them how it’s safe. I can’t imagine it being “safe” unless it’s strapped in.

  62. rjhiggins says:

    @newspapersaredead: Well, given the stories we’ve seen about puddles of urine left on seats and loud, drunken passengers I’d say we need to apply the same rules to the adults.

  63. ClayS says:

    @COREN: He may have flown a different type of plane to China. The article didn’t specify the type.

  64. Pylon83 says:

    @coren:
    He may have flown over on the same type of plane, but if you read the link on Cathay’s website, it says they are rolling out a new Business Class layout incrementally, so maybe the 747 he went over on had not been upgraded yet.

  65. gamehendge2000 says:

    I know it’s been said, but wtf, the guy had a baby sitter – he should have sent her ass back to coach to watch the kid – I’m sure he would have found 2 people who would have happily traded up for the seats. To make it up to the sitter afterwards, he could let her spit for a change later on.

    I flew 1st class from NY to Chicago once (freq flyer upgrades, people) and brought my 6 month old. The look of horror and disgust from our cabin mates was priceless – although I’m the first to admit I would have felt the same way if it was some other guy’s kid.

  66. JustAGuy2 says:

    @jtheletter:

    744 = 747-400. It’s shorthand.

  67. abigsmurf says:

    The cabin crew have final say over whether or not they think a car seat is safe or not. A car seat that isn’t securely fitted could fly up in turbulance and severly injure someone nearby.

  68. themediatrix says:

    I recently read a great article in the New Yorker written by a foreign correspondent from the U.S. who was learning to drive in China. All the rules were completely arbitrary.

    For example, the use of headlights were banned in Beijing until the mid-1980′s. So, um, people were driving in the dark without headlights.

    There were too many great moments to go into in the article, but one was when the driving students had to learn to drive the car so that the car’s two left tires landed perfectly on a wooden balance beam with the other two tires still on the ground. The reason they had to learn this? Because it was part of the test.

  69. Pylon83 says:

    @abigsmurf:
    The judgment of the crew is irrelevant here. The policy, as stated on Cathay’s website, is that in the aircraft that have the new Business Class arrangement car seats are prohibited. This was not a judgment call on the part of the crew, it was simply enforcement of the rules. The fact the customer was unaware of them is kind of a side issue, but one that was handled horribly.

  70. themediatrix says:

    Oops – make that “too many great moments in the article to go into here…”

  71. Alger says:

    @womblebug: Those aren’t the only options. You could also just have the child sitting in a seat with a plain old lap belt. The incremental benefits of being strapped into a car seat are minimal. (Granted, not in this situation, since the seat was described as having more than just lap belts.)

  72. Alger says:

    @krztov: Superman doesn’t work nearly that cheap. Neither do private charters, for that matter.

  73. HeHateMe says:

    Holy Crap… for $20,000 he could have probably chartered a private jet and let his kid sit in whichever seat his little heart desired.

  74. CurbRunner says:

    @Ashcan:
    Ashcan is right by saying “I have a feeling that “FAA Approved” means nothing to Cathay Pacific, a non-US based airline. If you want to claim “FAA approval” of something, you may have to be on a U.S. based airline company for them to take it seriously.”

    Most likely the kid’s car seat was allowed while the plane was in U.S.ground and air space under the FAA departure rules. When it was in China it was under their rules.

    However, their rules regarding the ability of flight crews to arbitrarily say you are a security threat for unsubstantiated, subjective reasons, seem to be the same rules U.S. flight crews now operate under as a result of the Patriot Act.
    Misuse of these rules by flight crews is becoming more prevalent as more reports about such incidents have come out almost every week during the last year.

  75. Pylon83 says:

    @HeHateMe:
    Clearly you’ve never looked into chartering a private jet. As I stated above, and as you’d know if you had read the comments, an international charter would easily run $50-100k. You’d be lucky to get from NY to Miami and back for $20k.

  76. taka2k7 says:

    Maybe I missed it, but shouldn’t the wanker have checked if the car seat was okay? Why is it the airlines responsibility to check if there is a car seat involved with a child’s ticket. I rarely see car seats on planes for kids. This guy should have taken a little more responsibility ahead of time and not assumed that his money gives him the right to break the rules (albeit rules that the cabin crew should have turned a blind eye to, especially considering the Captain said it was okay.)

    What a wanker…

  77. Kajj says:

    Every time an airline customer writing this site admits to having offspring the commenters rip him to shreds. People have babies. Despite numerous bile-filled complaints alleging the contrary, this is not a new fad. Babies are actually quite common in populated areas, and can be found in all classes of society. Sometimes these babies need to be transported from place to place. I urge the childless readers (of whom I am one) to try not to take this as a personal affront.

  78. Pylon83 says:

    @taka2k7:
    Had you read the actual email, you would have noticed that he flew from the US to China with the seat. Presumably he had no reason to know that it would be a problem on the return flight. If he did have such knowledge, then shame on him. But as presented, the facts tend to show he had no reason to suspect any prohibition on the seat for the return flight.

  79. Pink Puppet says:

    @Kajj: Oh, THANK YOU for saying that, someone really had to. It seems these rabid childfree types (I am childfree myself, but I have my shots) are worse than the children sometimes.

  80. LionelEHutz says:

    I’m just surprised that they all weren’t taken into custody by the Chinese government, convicted of spying, and then had their organs removed for resale on the black market.

  81. JollyJumjuck says:

    We all know the real reason he didn’t want the kid sitting directly in the airplane seat was that it was covered with lead paint.

  82. Rome Girl says:

    Don’t they have special seatbelts that allow the kid to be strapped to the adult for takeoff and landing?

  83. oldcaptain says:

    The reason they do not allow the car seat in that type of business class seats is the seatbelt has an integral airbag. It is OK if the seat belt is worn (as it discharges away from the passenger) but not so good if the seatbelt with the airbag is strapped underneath the baby seat.
    FAA approval on a car seat is not a blanket approval for any seat in any airplane. There are a number of different types of airplane seats that car seats cannot be used with, FAA or otherwise.
    The flight attendants did the correct thing in following their company’s rules. To have not followed the regulations would have been a violation and also a safety hazard.
    The airline did permit Rexford to ride in the seat, just not in his car seat. His parents and nanny seemed unable to get him to behave and keep his seatbelt fastened for more than a couple of minutes, yet somehow they blame the airline for this? I can imagine if he would not keep his seatbelt on for 2 minutes, his behavior would be just great on a 13 hour flight.
    Basically, these people got kicked off the plane for not following the instructions of the crew.
    I am a retired Captain for a US airline. They would have been kicked off the airplane in the US as well. The rules apply the same to rich people as they do to the little people, even if you know a hedge fund manager and a lawyer. As Pilots we expect you to follow the safety rules and the instructions of the crew, just as you expect we will follow the safety rules in the cockpit.

  84. AlisonAshleigh says:

    $20k? Are you kidding me?
    I fly to work every single day, and my company pays for it. On the rare occasion I oversleep and I have to pay for my plane ticket on commercial, it’s $55 one way.
    $20k?!?!

  85. ivyingrate says:

    @AlisonAshleigh:
    Do you fly from the US to China every morning accompanied by 4 other people, in business class? No? That explains the price difference. why did you even bother posting?

  86. nicoledapostrophe says:

    I think that the guy who went through this experience handled himself quite well, considering! You are all just grouchy!

  87. KIRZEN2007 says:

    $20K + 2 Children + 1 SITTER = Business Trip?

    What a load of garbage, I’d love to know exactly what sort of ‘business trip’ was being conducted that required your wife, two children, and your babysitter to be present during the expensive trip. Do you work for the government? Magically, I can almost hear the flushing of the toilet where the shareholders or tax holders money is disappearing into.

    Now, that said.

    1 > The rules appears to be that child seats aren’t allowed in business class, ignorance of this rule does not make you immune to this rule, and a prior lack of enforcement also does not make this rule less valid.

    2 > I’ll agree this was handled very poorly by the airline, but in the same regard I’m pretty certain that the conversation went something like:
    Airline “You can’t have that car seat in business class”
    Customer “But I flew here business class”
    Airline “Well, I’m sorry, but its against the rules, you can’t have your car seat in this class, we’d be happy to move your children and their sitter to coach?”
    Customer “Bullshit! I -payed- for business class”
    Airline “Well Sir, that’s your only option”
    Customer *hissy-fit!*
    Airline *boot!*

  88. KIRZEN2007 says:

    @womblebug:

    If you child has a babysitter who is being employed expressly for the reason of keeping your child in line and he still “manages to unbuckle himself 3 times in five minutes” then you’re a disturbance, your child is an ill-mannered wretch, your babysitter is being paid a great deal too much, and you need to be off my plane and on the tarmac where you belong.

    Why can’t parents discipline and educate their children, and why can’t people be inventive.

    Your babysitter sits directly beside him, tosses a free airline blanket across his lap and tucks it in at his sides to keep wandering hands away from his buckles, and entertains him the entire time the flight crew is busy trying to get the plane into the air.

    This guy was gunning for a free upgrade to first class, -looking- to cause a problem, probably wouldn’t allow his children’s seats to be downgraded into coach, was ignorant of the rules, and felt entitled because the flight crew on the way over didn’t enforce the car-seat rule.

    Airlines suck, and its sad that this issue is by no means ‘special’ or ‘extraordinary’, I can agree that he received poor customer service, but the ‘reason’ for that poor customer experience suggests to me that he’s a wealthy and entitled, and got himself kicked off a flight for being an argumentative jerk. We’ll never know, because most of us don’t have the cash to flush $4000 down the toilet for a business class ticket to china and back.

  89. esqdork says:

    @KIRZEN2007: I hate to leap to conclusions, and it sounds like Cathay mishandled the situation (the tenor plays a big part in these things), but that sounds about right:
    1. Dude piggy-backs a family vacation and brings a nanny to his business trip in China and flys the whole brood in business class;
    2. Names one of his kids Rexford;
    3. “Name”-drops a lawyer and a hedge fund guy (not just a hedge fund guy, but the head of the hedge fund!);
    4. Notes that he was not offered seats in first-class but omits whether he was offered coach seats; 5. Cannot get Rexford to sit still for 30 minutes, even with a nanny on staff; and
    6. Throws around terms like justice and Bill of Rights even though he is outside the United States and dealing with a foreign-based carrier and not dealing with a governmental entity (news-flash: the Bill of Rights only guarantees you certain rights vis-a-vis governmental entities in the United States if you are also a U.S. citizen or a foreign national who has entered the U.S. legally, any rights you have vis-a-vis an air carrier is contractual and Cathay was pretty clear regarding its policy on child seats in business class).

  90. KIRZEN2007 says:

    @esqdork:

    Yep, its all about the little things in the complaint that are either slipped quietly in under the carpet, or left entirely unsaid. My favorite is that no where in his description of the problem are ‘alternatives’ mentioned. I find it hard to believe that instead of offering alternative ways of accommodating his children they decided to stand there and have him hold a demonstration in the isle (with no less than the help of two other passengers who were probably desperate just to have him shut up and sit down so the flight could leave on time) rather than just go “Coach is back that way M’lord, just have the nanny settle young Rexford down enough and he can ride with her back there while young Maxwell rides up here with you”

  91. ExecutorElassus says:

    @KIRZEN2007: I don’t know about number 2; it seems from the OP that it was more like…
    Crew: you have to stow that seat
    Customer: okay, but now my kid’s unsafe, see?
    Pilot: yeah, his kid’s unsafe
    Other Rich-ass Passenger: yeah, that’s unsafe
    Crew: them’s the rules
    Passenger: but…
    Crew: *boot!*
    Manager in airport: you’re a security risk. All your flight are belong to us.

  92. JustAGuy2 says:

    @KIRZEN2007:

    You know, actually being informed about the situation and the configuration of the seats would keep you from looking like an idiot.

    These seats (which are great by the way) are very isolated from each other. They’re angled, and there’s no “seat next to them.” You’re either in front or behind (and on the other side of a 3.5 foot high partition that’s impossible to reach over) or across the aisle and more than 7-8 feet away. There’s no physical way to even touch a toddler sitting in one of those seats if you’re sitting in another one of those seats.

  93. JustAGuy2 says:

    @KIRZEN2007:

    I do agree with you, though: he never mentioned that downgrading babysitter and toddler to coach would have solved the problem. Methinks they could have found two people in coach willing to switch. :)

  94. MRT says:

    Wouldn’t it have been easier for the nanny to control the kids in coach class where there is no barrier between the seats as opposed to business class, with a 3.5 foot partition seperating the nanny from the kid?

  95. bigjet says:

    Firstly, Cathay 747-400 (B744) are certified under JAR, not FAR. The aircraft are registered in Hong Kong. Therefore, the FAA has no jurisdiction. Secondly, Cathay does not accept children in business class because the angled seating requires a shoulder strap during takeoff and landing, and because the seats prohibit direct adult supervision. The warnings were issued commensurate with the new configuration. Thirdly, a first class upgrade is not going to be approved because the child obviously requires supervision. A coach downgrade might have been a viable solution, however, once a passenger becomes agitated to the extent that he is involving other passengers, it is time to offload him. He is a security threat to the extent that he is uncooperative with the flight crew and disrespectful of the Service Managers authority. The tone of his letter clearly indicates an attitude of superiority towards the flight crew. The Captain’s decision was correct.

  96. jamesdenver says:

    @esqdork:

    Nice summary :) No pity from me.

    “Jamesford”

  97. MYarms says:

    I was on his side till I read that his son’s name is Rexford. Come on dude tell the truth, you weren’t on vacation. You were over there trying to find a new supplier of lead-free toys.

  98. silverpie says:

    @lionelehutz: The Beijing authorities wouldn’t be involved. Cathay Pacific is based in Hong Kong, which still has its own aviation authorities.

  99. coren says:

    @ClayS: @Pylon83:

    Fair enough, different plane going over. But the argument “it doesn’t fit” doesn’t…jive (I’d say fly, but, well, yeah). No way he can demonstrate the seat is “safe” without slapping the badboy into where the seat should be.

  100. HeHateMe says:

    @Pylon83: wow, you know what… you are right. Sorry I missed your 1 sentence breakdown on the cost of a private flight. Good thing you are here to keep us “uninformed masses” in check when it comes to this type of info. I am glad that someone out there cares enough to make sure I know that I should read every comment carefully before posting my own. I apologize if I offended you by never looking into the cost of a private flight. Won’t happen again Captain!

  101. lovemysax says:

    Cathay Pacific abides by the rules and regulations of the CAD the equivalent of FAA. Everything on the aircraft including the blankets that you uses must be approved by the CAD. The cabin crew will have to pass a very strict almost month long safety training and exams at the end of the course to be able to fly; and a refresher course plus exams every year. Failure to implement the set safety standards could cost the cabin crew to have her licence suspended while pending an investigation. Things like car seats have to approved that in the case of a survivable crash would remain secured in the seat during impact, give equal or better protection to the child than the airline passenger seats and most importantly not be a hindrance in the event of an evacuation.
    Friend of a cabin crew.

  102. DevilGuy says:

    My mother happens to be a travel agent, I’ve flown business first class, and coach, the point of business class is for business travelers, while the OP fits that description, the rest of his family does not. moreover due to the nature of the seating arrangement there should not be ANY children under 10 years in this carriers business class. The OP should have looked into this and made plans appropriately before creating the situation through his own stupidity. The flight crew was well within their duty to put him off the plane, I’m certain they offered to switch the child to coach but that would be to rational to include in the OP’s deluded ranting. The airport manager was an ass though, no getting around that, not that he has any responsibility or need to coddle some stupid rich American stereotype.

  103. wowpeter says:

    To Cathay defence, I think a lot of comments about the so call “FAA approved car seat” is very misleading. If an US airlines would have adopted the same harringbone seat layout, those same “FAA approved car seat” will not be allowed onboad the US carrier either, this is due to the layout of the seat and possible side impact to the wall during an emergency. This is also why a three point seatbelt has been fitted and on newer version of Cathay planes, regular two points seat belt and airbags has been fitted to the new Business Class. The situation is the same as having a child on a car seat in a car when the airbag inflats and possibility to break the neck of the child if their car sit was fitted to the front seat of the car with airbags function. So this is the reason why ALL car seat are banned on the new Cathay Business Class. So stop complaining about the so call “FAA approved car seat” and Cathay ignoring FAA rules because they are based in Hong Kong! This has nothing to do being based in China and a communist country. Also, Cathay Pacific follows rules set by the HKCAD (Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department), which conforms to the European Standard. So FAA rules does not apply to Cathay and neither do the aviation rule in community china.

    However, I do agree that the Cathay checkin agent should have informed the passenger about this situations and that the airlines should have done more to inform passenger with regards to the new rules with their new seats. Also the airport service manager should have been more helpful instead of calling the passenger a sercurity threat without understanding the full story.

  104. coney_island says:

    The OP is such a culturally arrogant and misinformed idiot. As mentioned by Bigjet, Cathay follows CAD rules which are very similar to FAA. However the FAA does not have juristiction in Hong Kong. Neither does the Communist Party – In fact Hong Kong has a more free and open economy than than the United States, with a tax rate of only 15% to boot. Hong Kong also has a Bill of Rights which is enforceable in Hong Kong – you dont need to bring in the Marines.

    I can only read between the lines and assume that the OP and his family were offloaded because they would not comply with the instructions of the crew. In my experience, Cathay crew have a much higher tolerance level than say, United Airlines crew. Pull that trick on United, and you would be wrestled to the floor by the Air Marshall. Fat lot of use the First Ammendment will be to you then.

    And yes, it is an offense in both Hong Kong and the USA to disobey the safety directions of a flight crew member.

    Whether the childs seat was actually a hazard or not is really besides the point. I am sure a compromise could have been found if the OP hadn’t agitated the crew to the extent of getting thrown off the flight.

  105. joeb says:

    FAA applies to the US.
    Cathay is based in Hongkong.
    Enough said.