Southwest Will Give Refund To The Family That Was Too Unruly To Fly

Southwest Airlines said that they will be giving a refund to the family it considered too “threatening” to make their connection to Seattle. KPHO says Wendy Slaughter will receive a full refund for their six one-way tickets from Detroit to Seattle via Phoenix.

Southwest did not issue the “public apology” the family was hoping for. Do you think this is a fair compromise? Do the chronically unruly deserve refunds if they’re kicked off the flight?

Family Booted From Flight Gets Refund [KPHO](Thanks, Lucas!)

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  1. semanticantics says:

    Why?

  2. tom2133 says:

    I don’t think Southwest needs to apologize for anything. She admitted her kids were unruly. The last thing that should be happening on a plane is kids running around “excited.” I just don’t want any kids running around the plane – possibly causing some problem (opening a door, doing something at the galley, getting their hand sucked in the toilet) – worst case scenario, I know, but it’s just not safe to have kids wandering around a plane.

  3. Bladefist says:

    I don’t know, I think they deserve refunds. They paid money to go from point A to point B, and if I remember right, they didn’t make it to point B. However, I also think they should be banned from the Airline, and they aren’t deserved an apology.

    Some will argue with me, because I know a lot of people side with the Airlines on this. And I’m definitely a huge screaming kid hater. But I don’t like when businesses can kick you out and keep your money. Kick them off the plane, give them a refund and pamphlet for training on being a good parent.

  4. evslin says:

    They don’t need to apologize. The refund was a nice gesture.

  5. rhmmvi says:

    The refund was nice, but entirely optional in my opinion. While I do empathize with their cause–a bunch of kids, plus some disabilities makes for a rough time. However, children do not exist in a vacuum–they exist with other travelers, flight attendants, etc. It means that parents need to be able to control their children or reduce the exposure of poorly-behaving children [that is, not to be confused with children acting as children] out of consideration to others. However, the ironic part about it is that consideration is the missing element here–clearly this mother couldn’t control her children and let them run wild on a plane – simply not appropriate. Next time they can get a minivan, but I’m sure she’ll try to fly with them again.

  6. MyPetFly says:

    Sounds reasonable to me. I don’t know about banning the family in the future, but getting them off the flight and refunding the money seems to be the right balance of things.

  7. hellinmyeyes says:

    They didn’t fly the flight, so, sure, the tickets should be refunded. I actually think they might have gone as far as giving them the hotel room for the night since that was a bit of a stranding. However, they definitely don’t need to apologize. They did all the passengers a great service, and we all know how serious the situation must have been if fricken police were called to meet them at the gate when they landed. Definitely a ridiculous sob story put on by the mother and the news crew.

  8. Jubilance22 says:

    An apology is so unnecessary. If I was Southwest I wouldn’t have given the refund either.

  9. Eigtball says:

    Wow, talk about caving in. I guess airlines are in such bad shape even when they are right by refusing to allow them to fly, they still have to refund them to mitigate any bad press.

  10. crabbyman6 says:

    Are they going to start refunding tickets when they keep drunk people off flights? Both of these are judgment calls, if one deserves it why not all of them? Often the drunk people are less unruly than a herd of screaming running kids.

  11. SpecialEd says:

    I think SW owes them something since the service wasn’t provided. I wouldn’t apologize for doing what needed to be done for safety reasons.

  12. fostina1 says:

    thats fair, in the future maybe they should ask if any persons purchasing tickets has a disability. then maybe this could have been avoided from the beginning.

  13. halftank says:

    Southwest is paying a small price for them to go away. The gesture probably reduces SW’s chance @getting sued, since they gave them /something/. Wise move on their part – would you want to be sitting next to them?

  14. JustaConsumer says:

    You need to behave when traveling in a crowded space. She admits they did not behave. I am proud of SW but they should not provide a refund. This was manufactured by the media.

  15. KyleOrton says:

    I think the refund is the perfect balance and will make everyone watching happy with Southwest. Personally, I would have given the refund along with a statement like “Refund? Heck, we’d have paid them to stay away.”

    Somehow I doubt Virgin is going to pad a plane, stock it with pixie sticks and invite them to fly for publicity this time.

  16. bobbleheadr says:

    @fostina1: This had ZERO to do with the disabilities of the kids, but rather the abilities of the parent.

    I guess a full refund makes sense since they probably save more then that in the inevitable court cost in the coming lawsuit, even if its tossed out quickly.

    (Im assuming that SW is requiring the family to waive their option to sue)

  17. zigziggityzoo says:

    I think this is a reasonable outcome. I believe the parents should have consulted with doctors, since the kids obviously have special needs, they should have considered some sort of sedative for this out-of-the-ordinary experience, just in case.

  18. hardtoremember says:

    Our local news just had a piece on our local news about this. Very much in favor of the family who by all that I have read is at fault.
    I don’t see a problem with refunding the tickets but I do not think they are owed an apology.

  19. Parting says:

    @crabbyman6: I’ve seen once a very drunk passenger in an airport. Oh, he was polite to everyone. Only he came crawling to customs :) He pulled out his docs from his pocked, while still ”walking” on his knees and hands =)

  20. emona says:

    Refund, yes. Apology? No.
    If anything, the parents should apologize to Southwest.

  21. Speak says:

    Refunding their money is a good customer service gesture, if only in appearance, because of the high cost of plane tickets. From yesterday’s Consumerist discussion, it seems the woman was entirely at fault. But the fact that people in Phoenix willingly chipped in to get the family a hotel room also seems to indicate that people do sympathize with them. This latest KPHO article notes too that no report was filed with Phoenix police. If one had been filed, Southwest’s action would look legitimate instead of possibly heavy-handed.

    The original news story was badly reported. I’d like to know what Phoenix police and other passengers on that plane have to say. It’d also help if Southwest would clarify “threatening behavior.” Their use of vague terms only leads to further speculation on their justification for kicking the family off the flight.

  22. picardia says:

    I think a refund is fair, because the family didn’t make the trip, at Southwest’s request. I also think they’re right not to apologize if the family was truly problematic.

  23. JoeVet says:

    I would think that the family had recourse under the Americans with disabilities act. At least two of the children had disabilities, both of which could lead to hyperexitation. IANAL but I would recommend she talk to one.

  24. robocop is bleeding says:

    I’m glad they got the refund and no apology. If anything, they should have issued a statement reading “We’ve decided to terminate any business relationship with the Slaughter family. They have been issued a refund and further attempts to fly on Southwest will not be accepted.”

    I’m curious to hear what it was like on the plane from the other passengers. Did the Mom make any effort to control her kids? Or did she just ignore them and say ‘Kids are kids!’ over and over?

  25. wordsmithy says:

    Southwest deserves an executive email carpet bomb of thanks (EECBs are only for complaints?) for respecting the rights of the other passengers on the flight.

  26. chrisjames says:

    @Bladefist: Banned from the airline is a bit much. Stranding a family somewhere is enough deterrent to both keep them away from the airline and keep other customers in line if they choose to return. A stern lesson is usually good enough.

    Though, maybe banning all children from the airline is better? I can hope.

  27. MissPeacock says:

    The refund is fair. The woman, however, should offer a public apology to all of the fellow passengers and flight crew on the original flight. I can’t imagine what hell that must have been.

  28. banmojo says:

    @JoeVet: Hyperexcitation? And you think the mother made a sound decision when she decided to take these potentially DANGEROUS HYPEREXCITED KIDS ON BOARD A JET AIRPLANE??? Puh-leeeeez dude, all is NOT fair in love and war. If they’re so disabled that they can NOT fly in a public jet airplane then they do NOT belong on one and their mother KNEW this beforehand. She was being selfish, stupid, and SHE endangered the other people and the aircraft so NO, she gets no apology and I think the refund is a smart business move in our suit happy country but I don’t think she’s due that either.

  29. plural_of_moose says:

    @Eigtball: Actually, I’m pretty sure Southwest is one of the few not circling the gutter, due to hedged fuel prices (locked in a while back).

    That said, I make a point to fly them because they make a point to treat me better than a farm animal. The refund was appropriate (I don’t remember from the original article, but did SW detour to drop them off? If not, the family should be thankful they were dropped along their route at least). As for the apology, I’m glad SW didn’t apologize, because truly, if you can piss off those flight attendants, you don’t deserve one.

    /I’m not a sock-puppet, just a person who can still tolerate flying because of them

  30. CRNewsom says:

    I am absolutely shocked that is the actual picture of the mother. Seriously, did she have to purchase two tickets (isn’t that Southwests policy)?

    /The mullet in the picture is awesome, too.

  31. Consumer007 says:

    I think she should be put on the no fly list, to begin with, but failing that, I think, looking at her, she should be charged for 6 seats per flight – 3 for her gross tonnage alone and 3 for the kids from now on.

    I would only have issued an apology if it was accompanied by a discount coupon for Jenny Craig, lol.

  32. @emona: Refund, yes. Apology? No.
    If anything, the parents should apologize to Southwest.

    Exactly. The parents should also apologize to all the other passengers too.

  33. Norcross says:

    I’m a big fan of Southwest anyway, and even more so after this event. A refund was a nice gesture, given that they never flew. However, I’m sure their ticket stated that they could get booted for something like this. While it’s usually the customer who gets the benefit of the doubt, it’s about time that people who refuse to follow the rules of decency and common courtesy be shown the door.

  34. poxpopulus says:

    Mocking their appearance; applauding abject humiliation of an overwhlmed mother with disabled kids. Nice work all, you should proud. And the meek shall inherit the earth.

  35. I think people are hypothesizing too much on exactly how unruly the children in this situation were. The mother admitted the kids were unruly, but again this is all perception. At no point has it said anywhere that screaming was involved.

    quote:
    “The children were out of control on the flight you know, they were restless, excited and worked up and they are kids,”

    A screaming overexcited child that won’t/can’t follow instructions (from airline or parent) to belt up when necessary is one thing. A child that merely wanders occasionally and perhaps explores their surroundings a little is another.

    I don’t believe that anyone here has nearly enough non-subjective information to say whether this family deserved the hassle they endured.

    All that said I think the refunded tickets are deserved. I also think all the comments about “bad parents” are out of line until we get more details.

  36. laserjobs says:

    These breeders should not be allowed to fly

  37. @Poxpopulus

    And that adds to this conversation how? I’m sure were your picture plastered on the web we could all find myriad complaints about your personal appearance as well.

  38. EyeHeartPie says:

    I think this refund is one of the reasons people like Southwest. I don’t believe the family was entitled to a refund since them getting booted off the flight was due to their own actions. Would I get a refund if I missed my flight due to my own fault?

    However, Southwest did refund them the portion of the flight they didn’t take (even if they didn’t have to) and are showing they still know how to treat customers, even ones acting so unruly as to be kicked off of a flight.

  39. @TakinItSeriously

    MORON

    That @ poxpopulus should have been at CRNewsroom … my bad

  40. SkokieGuy says:

    As someone pointed out yesterday, with a young child, you put them in the window seat with a parent or responsible adult between the child and the aisle.

    How is a child going to undo their seatbelt AND be running up and down the aisles without the cooperation of the parent in this situation?

    Prudent parenting and / or doctor’s advice could have avoided this mess.

    I vote yes on refund as the services were not delivered. No on apology as the airline did their duty to maintain a safe flight condition.

    Lifetime ban, no as we can hope that the parents will improve their handling of their children and the children will become more capable of appropriate behaviour in these types of stressful situations.

  41. The_IT_Crone says:

    They do NOT deserve an apology as the airline did the right thing. I’m on the fence about the refund, as there are lots of ways one can miss a flight and not be given a refund. It was THEIR FAULT they did not fly, not Southwest’s fault.

    The family should apologize to everyone that they should encounter in life.

  42. wgrune says:

    @JoeVet:

    IANAL either but I believe the ADA requires that “reasonable accomodations” be attempted (or some similar wording). This means you have to let someone in a wheelchair on a plane, but if he is not following the rules or causing a disruption on the plane he can be removed, disability or not.

    Also, I recall some threads on here talking about the fact that the ADA may not apply to planes since it is trumped by some other federal transportation laws. I could be wrong though…

  43. Murph1908 says:

    The “They didn’t get their flight, so they deserve a refund” argument is flawed.

    Say as I am entering the plane, I kick the pilot in the shins. If I get thrown off the plane, do I get a refund?

    No.

    It was a nice PR gesture from SW. It cost them next to nothing in comparison to their daily revenue. I don’t think they had a right for a refund, but it was kind of SW to give it to them to help them pay for whatever alternate transportation they needed to acquire.

    I think not giving them the apology is the most important part of the story.

  44. poxpopulus says:

    @TakingItSeriously:
    Ouch, devestating.

  45. I can’t understand why other domestic airlines, who are constantly loosing money, customers and face, don’t look to SWA as an example of how to run this type of operation.

  46. IrisMR says:

    It’s the right thing to do from SW. Some people here do argue that the family was not entitled to a refund, but it’s SW’s decision (and I agree it was the right thing to do.)

    No apologies though. They should be grateful SW was graceful enough to give their money back. People with unruly children should not fly. Get your kids in check, make them understand no one in interested in being stuck with them for hours, THEN fly.

  47. dragonvpm says:

    The refund was really the least they could do. I absolutely hate flying with unruly kids, but IMO airlines should clearly advertise their policies detailing under what circumstances folks may be kicked off the plane or not allowed to fly (burying them somewhere in the fine print does not count). Maybe even adding it to the confirmation screen so you can print out their rules for flying ahead of time.

    I see nothing wrong with having standards and enforcing them, but airlines should be up front about it so people know whether they want to run the risk of flying with them before they shell out the money for the tickets. Also this makes it possible for families with kids (especially those with special needs) to plan ahead and figure out what makes sense for them in their situation.

    Too often it seems that air travel is ruled by unwritten, secret rules and regulations that are arbitrarily enforced by whoever happens to be working (I’m thinking back to the women who were ordered to change out of their “revealing” tops and yet that didn’t seem to be an actual written policy of Southwest’s).

  48. mabus says:

    while i don’t think that the family deserved refunds, i do believe that the airline did so to quell a potential lawsuit, which would cost far more than the tickets just to defend.

  49. @poxpopulus

    Yeah heh … sorry about that … I fail at scrolling up far enough.

  50. chersolly says:

    Business in the front, party in the back… How could they not let him on board?

  51. Shadowfire says:

    @poxpopulus: The family deserved what they got, but the mocking of their appearance is a bit much. No matter where you go, there will be assholes.

  52. mrbill says:

    I don’t care what conditions your children might have – if you can’t get them to sit down and behave properly, you don’t need to be on the airplane. There is no “Oh they’re just kids and get excited” excuse. That might fly at Wal-Mart when your child destroys a product display, but not thousands of feet in the air when other passengers’ safety depends on everyone acting properly.

    I’m glad Southwest kicked this family off WITHOUT an apology. I think they should only have been refunded the UNUSED portion of their tickets.

  53. SadSam says:

    @EyeHeartPie:

    I think you might get a refund from SW. A couple of years ago I showed up at the airport without I.D. (it was a very early flight and I was half asleep). I realized I did not have my I.D. (at the check in counter) and had to go home to get my I.D. (I was also renting a car at my desitantion). I decided to just forget the weekend trip and stay home and explained the situation to the agent. She said, I’ve got room on the next flight departing in a couple of hours, do you still want to take your trip? I inquired as to how much that would cost me – figuring a $50 change fee at the very least. Agent told me I could make the change for free, they had room on the flight, etc.

    I love SW.

  54. WEGGLES90 says:

    This is bullshit. They were kicked of rightfully. The kids were out of control. Out of their seats, bugging everyone. There is no (legitimate) complaint about being kicked off the plane, as they were out of control. So why should refunda be issued? This is bullshit. Giving them refunds ony encourages this type of thing, makes them think they were in the right, and sets it up for this to happen more.

  55. jsavimbi says:

    @fostina1: That’s discriminatory. Misbehavior isn’t a disability, it’s the by-product of having jerks for parents.

    This is a case of “seller beware” where SW knows they’re going to encounter uniqueness in their consumer population due to the low, low prices they charge and weird airports they frequent. The only reason they’re issuing a refund is to avoid a pr problem.

    I can only imagine the number of people inconvenienced by SW over the years that never bothered to call a TV station. Those people are HOT for news like this.

  56. jenl1625 says:

    @JoeVet: “I would think that the family had recourse under the Americans with disabilities act. At least two of the children had disabilities, both of which could lead to hyperexitation.” That’s much less of an issue if all 4 kids were causing the trouble (or if it was the 2 other kids causing the worst of the trouble).

    On the question of what other passengers say, all I’ve found is from [www.abc15.com] – “Pat McElroy disagrees. As a passenger on the flight with the Slaughter family, he told KIRO, ‘It was the flight from hell. I never experienced anything like it in all my years of flying.’ McElroy said the children kept moving around when the seatbelt sign was on. He also said the kids were shouting, going up and down the aisle being disruptive.”

  57. Ninjanice says:

    I think SW did the right thing in kicking these people off of the flight. Ms. Slaughter knew her kids were being unruly. Usually people’s perception of their children is higher than what the general population thinks of them. It makes me think they were being little brats and mom didn’t discipline them properly. I think it was fair of SW to not make everyone else on the flight suffer any longer than they had to and kick the family off.

  58. Dyscord says:

    The refund was appropriate, since they paid to get to their destination and didn’t get there. An apology is too much though. What do they have to apologize for? Because your kids were too out of control to handle?

  59. Bunnifer says:

    Why is it that everyone blames the mother for not being able to control “her” kids? Why does the father get to slide out of any childcare responsibility when (as far as I understand the conception process) those rugrats are half his?

    Better to say the parents couldn’t control their children and should probably consider automobile transportation nest time.

  60. Gokuhouse says:

    I’m glad they gave back the money these people paid for a service they never fully received. They should apologize for the inconvenience in my opinion and one of the above commentators made the suggestion to make the rules written so everyone that buys a ticket knows for what reasons they can be kicked off. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for.

  61. bentcorner says:

    I think they were certainly entitled to a refund, but they don’t deserve an apology. Did they apologize to anyone on the plane for their unruly, misbehaving children?

    It’s stories like this that make me WANT to fly Southwest.

  62. tinky XIII says:

    She tried to use her kids’ conditions as an excuse. She should be damn happy she got any sort of compensation.

    Now I wonder if she’s going to use that money to pay back her relative for those tickets they bought her to get to Seattle?

  63. MercuryPDX says:

    I give credit to SW for giving her a refund when they didn’t have to. Echoing the sentiment of most people yesterday, the family/”Mother” is the one that needs to be issuing the apology.

  64. wgrune says:

    @i.hate.trustafarians:

    No one is blaming the father because the father wasn’t on the flight. It’s is kind of hard to control a child from 1000 miles away…

  65. MercuryPDX says:

    @i.hate.trustafarians: I don’t recall any information about the father in EITHER article. Maybe you should change tack and shift some of the parenting responsibility on Grandma?

  66. IrisMR says:

    @i.hate.trustafarians: Well we mostly hear about the mom here. Sure the dad gets the exact same blame. He’s one lousy father.

  67. bobbleheadr says:

    @i.hate.trustafarians: Dad wasnt on the flight… RTFA.

    @IrisMR: Nice random judgement.

  68. mike says:

    I’m not saying we should treat children like animals but I know many people give their pets sedatives before flying.

    Why couldn’t the parent do the same thing?

  69. DeafChick says:

    I agree with this. Give them a refund but No apology. They admitted that their kids were being disruptive.

  70. evslin says:

    @bobbleheadr: It doesn’t matter that dad wasn’t on the flight. Unless mom and dad are separated and dad doesn’t have any contact with the kids, he’s still responsible for raising them.

  71. mikehager66 says:

    I think a refund was fair since they did not receive what they paid for, but it was not a right but a privilege. I just think it seems the norm these days with overcrowded settings, unruly kids, and parents that don’t discipline their children. You almost feel for the mother, but kids will only respect your authority when you demand no less. Imagine the noise level in that plane with 4 kids screaming and running around and the other passengers just wanting to relax. I hope they never allow cell phones on planes!!

  72. cordeliapotter says:

    At most, at the absolute very most, those horrible people should be refunded the leg from Phoenix to Seattle.

  73. TPS Reporter says:

    No apology was warranted from Southwest, but a refund probably is. If the kids are so mentally challenged that they cannot behave well enough to fly under any circumstance, then unfortunately a different means of transportation should have been arranged. Sounds mean, but that is the reality. I have a son (who is just a normal kid) and expect him to behave in certain ways, and I try to think of how I would react to someone else’s kid doing these type of things when I expect him to behave. If the kid is hyperactive, bring a DVD player with earphones, coloring books, story books, gameboy. Kids need something to occupy their time, not just stare at the seatback in front of them.

  74. TPS Reporter says:

    On a lighter note, if anyone has the chance listen or read a stand up by Bill Cosby about a little boy on a plane he was on called “Jeffrey”.

  75. Smitherd says:

    This reminds me of the Violent Acres articles about controlling kids and teaching them not to behave like mindless animals.

    [www.violentacres.com]

  76. MumblesFumbles says:

    Perhaps this would have been a good use case for the TSA’s shock collar program?

  77. moore850 says:

    A refund makes sense since they paid for a service (the flight) which they were denied, thus they didn’t get what they paid for and should get their money back. That however has nothing to do with the kids, and so as to them getting an apology for being ejected due to airline rules everyone knows about? Doubtful at best.

  78. nsv says:


    “The children were out of control on the flight you know, they were restless, excited and worked up and they are kids,” Slaughter told KIRO tv.

    They are passengers first, then they are kids. We can cut them a little slack, but SOME control is required. An airplane is not the playground.

    A refund should be given if the airline fails to provide a service that they agreed to provide. They airline provided the service in this case. The customer was unable to use the service. A refund is a nice thing to do, but I’m not sure it was necessary.

  79. oh no! this means more white trash people might try to get on planes and cause havoc and then hope that by creating the havoc that they get kicked off AND get a free ticket/full refund.

    shame on you southwest. don’t give in!

    on a different note….. the best thing to do at airports is try to get on a flight that is overbooked, then say you don’t mind waiting for another flight later. they gave me a round trip ticket anywhere in the US for waiting 4 hours.

  80. spudaroo says:

    Lord have mercy. Forget about the kids, I would hate to be stuck sitting next to mom. Who knows what is being concealed under mom’s “Flyin Moo Moo” My fear is she would lift one of of the panels and begin treating her tetter and rash right there, midflight, dusting the whole cabin with Bonds Medicated Powder. I live in Phoenix and I know about those moo moo wearing women, they take up too much of everyone’s time complaining about the heat and applauding the likes of our Dear Leader.

    On a more serious note. Southwest Airlines has fairly compensated these folk. I fly SWA every chance I get. My credit cards is a SWA Visa. I charge all of my business expenses on this card and pay off the balance monthly. Zero balance and currently I have 6 Rapid Rewards tickets on my account. SWA = Good Business Model = Happy Travelers

  81. boss_lady says:

    I honestly think they didn’t even deserve a refund. The family failed to behave in a manner that was safe for flight and inconvenienced the other 95% of passengers.

    I hate to sound harsh, here, but they should thank their lucky stars they got anything, and back away quietly.

  82. EyeHeartPie says:

    From the aritcle linked to by jenl1625, it seems that the family wants Southwest to reimburse them for the $2000 they spent on the other tickets after they were removed from their flight. That is completely not called for. Southwest went out of its way to refund them the price of the tickets they didn’t use, even though it was due to the family’s actions that they were kicked off.

    That being said, the refund was a nice (unrequired) gesture, the reimbursement is asking for way too much, and no apology is needed because the family got themselves kicked off. Why should Southwest have to apologize to the family for the family’s crappy behavior? The family forced Southwest to enforce their rules, and Southwest should have to apologize for that?

  83. consumersaur says:

    Books, covers, deceiving appearances and all that – I realize making snap judgments about people based on their physical traits isn’t publicly acceptable policy.

    However, that mom doesn’t strike me as someone very capable of maintaining control of any life, her own included.

  84. tedyc03 says:

    I don’t know what the contract of carriage says, but if it says that Southwest Airlines can deny boarding upon refund of the ticket price, then that’s what they do. If it says that the price is forfeited if you’re determined unfit for transportation, then that’s what the rules say. Period.

    Though I’m pretty sure at SW HQ they were sitting around going “God, how do we kill this story and look good doing it?” This was the best they came up with, and I’m sorry that this family’s stupidity cost SWA the fare they earned.

  85. There’s no way Southwest owes them an apology. In all honesty, this family is lucky they weren’t arrested for causing a major disturbance on an aircraft, given the attitude (if not the actual practice) of heightened security in the air these days.

    Not sure about the refund either. It makes Southwest look good, at least. But this family should undoubtedly be banned from Southwest for the foreseeable future. The fact that they’re trying to squeeze even MORE money out of Southwest just reinforces that.

  86. DrGirlfriend says:

    I think what should have happened would have been for SW to put them up in a hotel for the night when they told the family they couldn’t fly their airline, and possibly help them locate another flight. No apologies and no further refunds. This mainly would have been a good-faith effort on SW’s part, while still holding firm to their decision. But since that didn’t happen, I think the refund, again, is a good-faith effort on SW’s part and further apologies are unnecessary.

  87. the other passengers should have received free tickets

  88. jamar0303 says:

    @linus: Knowing how some of these people are you’ll end up with hospitalized kids because these people overdosed their kids or something.

  89. jenl1625 says:

    @i.hate.trustafarians: Mom gets the blame for failing to control her kids because dad wasn’t on the plane.

    Whether that’s because he was back home working his tail off while mom, her sis, and the kids went on summer vacation, or whether it’s because there are 3 different guys who occasionally earn a paycheck and contribute to child support is completely unstated in any article I’ve seen . . . .

    But whether or not “dad” exists, he wasn’t there – mom was, and apparently feels no shame in her inability (or unwillingness) to keep her kids in their seats while the “fasten seatbelts” light is on.

  90. nsv says:

    @mandiejackson: Ha! Yes. Or at least free booze during the flight.

  91. Triborough says:

    If anyone is owed an apology it is the other passengers who had to put up with the Slaughters. If anything the mother and kids should have been hauled off the plane in cuffs by police when it arrived. However, I think the folks at Southwest realized that wouldn’t look very good. The airline should ban the family from traveling with them. The refund was no doubt a bit of damage control, but the Slaughter family doesn’t seem sympathetic instead they seem like the kind of people who will get some shyster to sue.

  92. Noris159 says:

    Methmouth can buy more cigarettes now for her unborn child.

  93. MadameX says:

    Why do people believe that the fact that the children are (allegedly) disabled mean that they have the right to act like wild animals?

    The reason I say allegedly–I live in the Phoenix area and the local news had video of the family on last night. I may be wrong, but isn’t it fairly obvious to tell when a person has cerebral palsy? I’m not trying to be cruel–just pointing out that we are taking the family’s word that these children are disabled. It certainly was not obvious looking at them.

    You’ll remember a woman and her autistic child were kicked off a plane last week. Who’s to say this woman didn’t hear about that story and made up the story about her kids being disabled to get sympathy?

    I’m not trying to be judgmental. However, I think Southwest acted appropriately and does not owe this family an apology.

  94. xkevin says:

    If they live in Seattle and are coming from Detroit, how did they get to Detroit originally? I have a tough time believing it was their first flight. The disability thing is bogus too. When I was in college, one of my professor’s had a son with cerebral palsy. He said they will never fly because it would be a whole ordeal and his son might even freak out on the plane. His solution? They took the train from New York to Florida for their Disney World vacation. He said his son loved the trip and loved the train.

  95. henrygates says:

    @linus: I’ve heard doctors recommending benadryl for little kids before going on a flight and I know of quite a few parents that use it. It works!

  96. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Next time I want to go to Las Vegas I’m going to book a flight to Chicago. Get piss drunk and unruly and get kicked off at Las Vegas. Then demand a refund.

  97. imrcly says:

    This is even more of an incentive for me to fly SW besides the nicer staff and faster boarding, when you are catching a late or early flight home or to work the last thing you want to deal with is some idiot who can not control their children. I applaud SW in removing them and am surprised they gave a refund at all. The family broke the rules they agreed to when they purchased the tickets.

  98. LittleBit12 says:

    Southwest issuing a refund was not a compromise. They were legally obligated to do so by their Contract of Carriage.

    According to Section 90(D): “Denied boarding – If Carrier denies boarding or removes a passenger from an aircraft under
    conditions described in Article 10 above, Carrier will, upon surrender of the passenger’s
    unused ticket or portion thereof, refund the fare paid for the unused ticket or portion thereof.”

    If you read Article 10, it specifically says that they can deny boarding for failure to comply with FAA regulations or for the comfort and safety of other passengers. It also has this to say about passengers with disabilities: “Carrier will transport qualified individuals with a
    disability in accordance with the conditions and requirements of U.S. Department of
    Transportation regulations, 14 C.F.R. Part 382, unless the carriage of such individuals may
    impair the safety of the flight or violate Federal Aviation Regulations.”

    We already know the kids and mother were violating FAA regulations by not obeying the orders of flight attendants, and therefore Southwest was completely justified in removing them, but they also legally had to issue them a refund.

  99. HeartBurnKid says:

    I think that Southwest was within their rights to boot them off the plane if they were disruptive. That said, since they paid for a service that they obviously didn’t receive, they were entitled to a refund, and got one.

    All sounds copacetic to me.

  100. RudeandRude says:

    Generous move by the airline, in my opinion. Fair alternative to a potential lawsuit. Is this a new trend for consumerist?

    1) Post potentially damning story about company

    2) Readers side with company…yes thats right, we side with the MAN!

    3) Company gives in?

  101. rellog says:

    @Bladefist: I agree. If they refuse to provide the service, they have no right to keep the money. And it isn’t like the mother is walking away after being made better than whole… she’s still out plenty from the new tickets and such…

  102. MrMold says:

    The refund is F*ckOff money. It’s what our manager/Customer Service people do to @ssholes to get rid of them. In the old days, when businesses were owned by people, they would hand you back your bighuge purchase of $2.50 and tell you to F*ckOff. You weren’t worth the grief. What little business you and your friend could bring would not equal the loss your stoopid brought.

    Sorry folks, I teach retarded kids and even the most unruly have decent behaviors. Your have to be the adult and act accordingly.

    This family smells of Professional Victim. The Welfare office is more than aware of these critters as is the Jail and the churches. They never have enough money, can’t clothe their kids, always need something.

  103. Trai_Dep says:

    Now that the TSA has removed Nelson Mandela from their no-fly list, it seems there’s a vacancy…

  104. PHX602 says:

    Absolutely Southwest should apolgize. Before I get flamed, here’s how it should read:

    Dear Ms. Slaughter:

    Regardling last Friday’s incident where we kicked your family off a Southwest flight, we would like to apologize:

    - That you and your family are incapable of acting like human beings in public.
    - That you insult people who bravely deal with their disabilities on a daily basis (and who refuse to use it as an excuse).
    - To the 120 other passengers you subjected to your bad parenting on a four-hour flight from Detroit to Las Vegas. To call it parenting is probably an insult to parents in general.
    - That we didn’t open the emergency exit over Kansas City and throw your family off the plane. That would have depressurized the cabin, and probably ruined the beverage service.
    - That we didn’t have an air marshal on board to either Taser or handcuff your monsters.
    - That some passengers didn’t take the law into their own hands and restrain your children with lapbelts and Xanax.
    - That we sold you a flight on our airline in the first place. We’ll make sure that never happens again.

    We will refund your PHX-SEA segment, not that we feel we mistreated you, but that it wouldn’t be right to take money for services not rendered. We at Southwest Airlines hope and pray you take this money and instead of spending it on cigarettes and junk food, invest it instead in a good charm school.

    Sincerely,

    Southwest Airlines

  105. PHX602 says:

    Regardling isn’t a word, either.

  106. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    @PHX602:

    Perfect. And SW has put out some press releases in the past that are pretty funny. Not quite like this though :)

  107. hypebreaker says:

    Well, who needs the hassle of trying to redeem their miles for travel anymore? This looks like a much better and fun way to score free flights. Just jack your kids up on as much sugar cereal as they can consume, have ‘em wash it down with some soda pop, let ‘em loose on a plane and watch from the comfort of your seat as they wreak havoc on everyone else’s peace and safety on the flight. Refuse to do anything about it until you are kicked off the flight. Moan and groan to the media about how unfairly you’ve been treated and collect your refund. It worked for the Slaughters, it worked for the Kulesza’s with AirTran and it will work for you!!!!

    I am not going to slam Southwest for having to do damage control but personally, I don’t see that they should have done anything more for these people than either book them onto another flight after they’d proven they had some control over their kids or refund the portion for the leg they missed. If a parent is going to travel with a child, autistic or not, the parent is responsible for managing them and complying with flight crew instructions. If your child has a mental or physical handicap, then it is the parent’s responsibility for notifying the airline before the flight and taking what steps are needed to ensure a safe trip.

    I think Southwest was right by removing these folks but if they are going to backpedal and give the Slaughters their money back, the other passengers who had to put up with them should get something for their trouble, too.

  108. IrisMR says:

    @bobbleheadr: It’s just that from what i.hate.trustafarians said I thought the guy was on the plane too.

    Obviously wasn’t. But one thing is sure, if he’s a good father I hope he’ll teach his wife a thing or two about raising children.

  109. hypebreaker says:

    @rellog: Yeah, but Southwest DID provide the service for most of the trip. The regulations say they only have to refund the “unused portion”. Southwest is going beyond that and refunding the whole ticket – something that’s both admirable and disturbing at the same time.

  110. AngryEwok says:

    Kick them off the plane, refund the ticket. Sounds fair to me.

  111. tmed says:

    @LittleBit12:

    Nice Work!

    It looks like southwest took the extra step of refunding the whole price rather than the unused portion. I think that was a good choice.

    $2000 for replacement tickets? It’s a long drive (1600 miles), but a rental and gas would have run half that – at most.

  112. thebluepill says:

    They dont they have a little “Cage” or Special needs Section on the larger/longer flights? Could it really take up that much more room?

  113. Also after seeing the article linked from jenl1625 I’d have to say that SW did the right thing on both counts.

    They removed a disruptive family from their flight, and refunded the tickets.

    It sounds like the children in question are not incapable of behaving (given that they took a different airline the next day). Indeed it sounds more and more like a case of incompetent parental supervision.

  114. Kbomb says:

    I think we need to look at the financial risk that would have been assumed by SW for not kicking the kids off; if a safety incident had occured and SW had to turn around or make an emergency landing it would have cost the airline thousands and thousands of dollars in man-hours, delays, confusion, and perhaps maintenance– so it makes the most fiscal sense to get them off the plane and refund either a portion of their fare for the second leg of the trip or even the whole thing.

    Still, this family seems to have been incredibly irresponsible and I have little sympathy for them. My brother-in-law is severely autistic, and my wife’s family knows better than to try and take him on a long plane ride. Sorry for not having more compassion, but I’m still with SW on this one.

  115. themaskedmarauder says:

    The Contract of Carriage requires that Southwest give a refund to the family. I, too, as a gate agent at 1 legacy carrier and 1 low-cost carrier, would have denied passage to the family as well. Customer service agents are able to cancel the tickets and initiate the refund process, which is what they should have done when the event occurred.

  116. wiggatron says:

    Great, now we’ll all be treated to another three pages of “Learn to control you kids” posts.

  117. STrRedWolf says:

    For being a security threat, the refund is the farthest I would go. The kids were unruly and should have been taught how to behave on the plane. If the kids had a medical issue that prevented that, then they should have considered Amtrak, which would of been much more enjoyable to them and to the passengers.

  118. EBone says:

    @CRNewsom: You should have seen the dental work on the TV news. To paraphrase Dave Attell, “When you’ve only got ONE tooth, don’t you think you’d take better care of it?”

  119. bohemian says:

    The most SW should have done was refund the unused leg of the trip. Service not rendered involves a refund. Other than that SW doesn’t owe these people a thing. Flying has an expectation that you are capable of staying in a seat during the required times, following flight attendant instructions and not making a disturbance. If you can’t comply with those expectations don’t fly.

    You see people like this woman in restaurants all the time. Their kids are running all over, tripping wait staff, being loud and approaching other customers to bother them. All the while the parent(s) shrug and go back to chain smoking and gossiping. In a restaurant is is obnoxious and they need to be kicked out. In a plane it is dangerous, people get kicked off flights for less all the time.

    I’m totally with SW on this one.

  120. sethom says:

    I guess I have to say it…I think Southwest made money on this…saving gas.

  121. Stormslanding says:

    What sickens me about this situation is that if the children somehow hurt themselves on this flight, you know darn sure they would be the first one filing a lawsuit for damages. Perhaps the airlines should file suit against them for anguish?

  122. joebobfunguy says:

    Okay kids, now start running around punching people. Maybe throw in an I have a bomb or two.

  123. edenj says:

    Weak! Southwest caved in. Southwest could have sold those seats to people who are capable of air travel. It’s probably the ‘nice’ thing to do, but still weak.

  124. NotATool says:

    Kids running all over during a flight is unsafe. The fact that these kids had disabilities is irrelevant.

    Remember, the laws of physics apply equally well to able-bodied kids and disabled kids. They do not discriminate.

    Therefore, if any kids refuse to sit in their seats with seatbelts fastened, and parents refuse to control their kids, the airline is well within its rights to refuse service.

    Keep disabilities out of the equation, keep “kids bothering the other passengers” out of it. Stick to the facts of physics and safety. Southwest owes them nothing.

  125. ElizabethD says:

    Hmm. So far I count only one “mullet” and one “white trash” in the responses, along with something about a “moo moo” which I think was meant to be “muumuu.” Good job staying on topic, commenters!

    Count me on SW’s side, BTW.

  126. Andr0 says:

    I see absolutely no reason of any sort for Southwest to issue refunds in this situation.

    Customer purchased service vouchers (plane tickets). Customer’s behavior disrupted and jeopardized the service provider’s ability to provide services that other customers paid for. Thus, offending customer is both adversely affecting the service provider and de-valuating service other customers paid for.

    It is not service provider’s right, but their obligation towards other customers to prevent offending customer from proceeding with the course of action that results in the above consequences.

    Compare it, if you will, with someone causing a disturbance in a movie theater or opera, or throwing a wild midnight party in a quiet mountain retreat resort. The fact they paid doesn’t mean they have free reign of the venue and situation, nor does the service voucher give them carte blanche to disrupt other people partaking of the same services.

    At the -very least-, Southwest had every right to kick her and her spawn off the plane. I personally believe Southwest should’ve also been able to demand reparations to be paid for damages caused to Southwest’s reputation and ability to provide services.

  127. jgodsey says:

    indeed the service was not provided, so they are owed a refund. the airline indeed do the right thing in the wrong way.

  128. ogremustcrush says:

    I’m not entirely sure whether they deserve the refund, but I’m sure that Southwest did it mainly as an attempt to reduce any possible liability. As for an apology, I would say that it is completely unnecessary as far as Southwest goes, but that the woman should be apologizing to at minimum the passengers of the flight they disturbed and preferably also to the flight attendants who had to deal with them. Like that’s really going to happen though, the only reason the story ever hit the press is because they are trying to make a stink about it, even when it is not justified.

    This whole story makes me want to fly Southwest, too bad they don’t service any of the airports near my location.

  129. varro says:

    @consumersaur: Forget the mom – the dad should take Wesley Willis’s advice:

    “Cut the muuuullet! Cut the muuuuulet! Tell your barber you do not want to look like an asshole any more.”

  130. reiyaku says:

    I think they should not recieve the full refund of the flight, but rather a portion of it. They need to stand firm to what they believe in and why they did what they did.

  131. Southwest should have had the police arrest the entire brood for interfering with a flight crew. Except for the contract of carriage, it’s hard to believe anyone would feel these people are entitled to a credit when their actions resulted in arrest. It would also solve the ‘no money & no place to spend the night” problem.

  132. hustler says:

    they should have charged that lard ass for 2 seats to begin with. I’m not surprised to see the mullet either.

  133. synergy says:

    Oh great. This will only encourage people with poor (none?) parenting skills to let their children run amok and then cry foul when they get kicked off. If they even get kicked off.

    One more reason to rarely fly. :(

  134. Paladin_11 says:

    Southwest refunded the money as a public relations exercise. The minute the mass media picked up on this story they had to. Now, I hope they had a camera crew for “Airline” on board so that we can all enjoy the show.

    And Mullet-mom, if you’re reading this: Be glad I was not on that flight. I would have told you straight up: “control your spawn or I’ll control them for you.” And I would have done so, with prejudice. There was a time when anyone witnessing an unruly child would have taken action to control the situation. It seems we’ve all gotten a bit timid on that front.

  135. synergy says:

    @Paladin_11: Exactly. When I was growing up, if a kid was misbehaving an adult, related or not stranger or not, could at least scold them. When the parent noticed they’d scold them as well and mete out punishment. Now no one wants to get involved and if they do the parent scolds the other adult rather than their misbehaving child.

  136. Leohat says:

    Sorry, still no sympathy for the family. As previous posters have mentioned, they violated FAA regs by not controlling their children. I’ve been on enough flights with screaming little brats, the whole family can DIAF.

    Frankly, I’d like to see airlines do this more often. I’m disapointed that WN caved in. It’s not like WN is NOT gonna get sued anyway.

  137. sean77 says:

    @poxpopulus:

    And the meek shall inherit the earth.

    Just look at her. She’s far from meek.

  138. RISwampyankee says:

    I cannot shake the feeling that if one of those precious darlins had been hurt ‘bein’ kids” that Mummykins would have on the phone to a lawyer before she picked up her bags.

  139. poxpopulus says:

    Stay classy Consumerists!

  140. 11hawkinst says:

    I don’t think the family should’ve been refunded. I mean really, they were obnoxious and this might have been the only time that the readers were actually siding with the company. I saw the video on CNN and thought about how annoying it would’ve been to sit next to these kids. I don’t think they should’ve been kicked off, but given a warning or something.

  141. boxjockey68 says:

    @Bladefist: I actually agree, this seems like the best action to take because I can also see both sides, the kids were unruly, but they didn’t make it to their destination so yea, this works. The airline should not apologize though. I hate to say it, as a mom myself, but you have to take some responsibility for the kids, even in spite of the handicaps….life isn’t always fair.

  142. Refund fine, apology for her kids being a-holes? Totally over the top. I’m sorry; I see these people every day at the local library and they need to be banned from public, not because of any fault of the children; but because of terrible parenting.

  143. EyeHeartPie says:

    @11hawkinst: The article says they were warned twice. It’s just that the mother didn’t think they would actually back up their warning with any action.

  144. Comms says:

    I think a refund is appropriate–they paid for a service that wasn’t provided–but I also don’t think the family deserves an apology. From the story it seems the parents didn’t try very hard to keep their kids behaved.

    “The children were a little bit out of control on the flight. They were restless and excited and worked up, and they’re kids.”

    They’re kids so everyone on a flight has to tolerate their bad behavior? If you don’t want to keep your kids under control then you don’t deserve to fly. Flying is degrading enough without adding poorly behaved children into the mix.

  145. lelee says:

    First of all, Autistic people are not “retarded or retards”, for those of you how use that word are ignorant and need to get an education.
    Karma is a “you know what” and you will get yours.

    On a more positive note: My child has autism and has very bad behaviors. She is on Med’s and is getting treatment for her behaviors. It is very difficult to controls behaviors sometimes in public. It is very stressful for the parents and heartbreaking when episodes arise. Knowing my daughters behaviors, I would “NOT”, put her on a plane knowing that her behaviors could strick and distrupt everyone and not to mention the stress that would cause my daughter and myself. I have considered taking a train with a private room but that is costly.

    I do not fault Southwest for not wanting the family on the plane, however they should have helped the parent find other transportation and given hotel accomidations. The parent should have advised the airline ahead of time and explained what behaviors may occur so they could have been prevented or eliminated.

  146. spudaroo says:

    Parachutes. Matching family parachutes would have been one way to deal with this in flight menace. The last thing this family would have heard was the thunderous applause of the entire cabin as they hurtle earthward. Let em use mom’s colorful moo moo as shelter until they were able to make their way to the nearest welfare office and git themselves some motel vouchers.

  147. Amy Alkon000 says:

    the fact that people in Phoenix willingly chipped in to get the family a hotel room also seems to indicate that people do sympathize with them. T

    People sympathize with them because they lack values. How about sympathizing with the passengers who had to fly across the country with them?

    When I was 8, I was convinced I could fly (I mean, by flapping my arms), but the idea that I would ever be loud or unruly in a public place, or kick the back of somebody’s seat in the movies or elsewhere, did not exist in my mind in what was possible in the known universe.

    Of course, I had parents, not “parents.”

  148. topgun says:

    @CRNewsom: Yeah I’m glad that she wasn’t bumped like the woman for having a short skirt and tank top.

  149. The Waffle says:

    This woman should not get a public apology, the refund was a nice gesture like other people say, but she shouldn’t get an apology. There are plenty of people who fly with autistic children and don’t have the same issue. The fact is she fails as a parent and can’t keep her kids under control. The problem with her, is she is most likely too lazy to actually teach her children to behave. I can understand her having some difficulties with the child with autism, but a child with CP? That’s stretching that line REAL thin.

  150. jimmydeweasel says:

    There are some pockets of the population that don’t belong on an airplane. Greyhound is for that “special” population. VIVA the free marketplace.