What, exactly, happened on a recent Southwest Airlines flight from Dallas to Albuquerque? Did a thoughtful flight attendant give a restless baby a change of scenery while her parents argued, or was the airline employee out of line to remove a screaming child from her parents and notify police on the ground of a suspected abuse case? Even those who were on the plane aren’t sure.
Here are the facts. On Monday, a 13-month-old girl was crying on a plane, and her parents argued as she kept screaming. Some passengers claim that the mother hit the baby in an attempt to quiet her.
Wrote the officer who filed the police report:
She informed me several passengers had reported that a female subject traveling with a baby and her husband had been observed striking the child on the face in an attempt to get the child to stop crying…
[The flight attendant] further stated she walked to the rear of the aircraft and observed the mother of the child… strike the child with an open hand on the face in an attempt to get the child to stop crying. [The flight attendant] further stated the mother appeared agitated with the child and that the husband continued to yell at his wife to shut up due to her screaming at the child.
According to the police report, the flight attendant said the child had a black eye, but the parents blamed that on an uncle’s dog.
The flight attendant took the screaming baby to the back of the plane, later bringing her back to her father. Police met the family on the ground, but no charges were filed.
A rep for Southwest has a different version of events:
What you read about the flight attendant taking the baby is not the case. She did it as a ‘Would you like me to bounce your baby for you?’
The family on board was having an altercation and their young child was upset. Our flight attendant offered to the parent — offered to hold the child on board. Our attendants do that from time to time just to soothe the crying babies because they are used to walking up and down the aisles.
Whatever the case, the airport’s police chief thinks the flight attendant did the right thing.
“I think it was a solid move from the part of the flight attendant to take custody of the child,” he said. “It neutralized the situation, it calmed everybody down.”
Southwest Flight Attendant Takes Crying Baby From Parents [ABC News]
Flight attendant takes baby girl away from mother who slapped her child in the face onboard a plane [NY Daily News] (Thanks, GitEmSteveDave!)