AirTran Grounds Screaming Toddler And Family, Literally

AirTran is defending itself today for removing a screaming toddler and her family from a flight bound for Boston. “The flight was already delayed 15 minutes and in fairness to the other 112 passengers on the plane, the crew made an operational decision to remove the family,” AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver said, ” [The toddler, a three year old named Elly] was climbing under the seat and hitting the parents and wouldn’t get in her seat.”

The family was compensated to the tune of “$595.80, the cost of the three tickets,” and “flew home the next day.

They also were offered three roundtrip tickets anywhere the airline flies,” but the father said they’d never fly AirTran again. This, of course, means we are suddenly more interested in flying AirTran for the no psychotic toddler policy. There are other people on the plane, and if you can’t control your kid you need to be removed rather than ruin/delay the flight for everyone else.—MEGHANN MARCO

Toddler’s Temper Ousts Family From Plane [Chicago Tribune]


Edit Your Comment

  1. shoegazer says:

    Whoa, suddenly everything’s white, and there’s a pissed off be-hatted dude on the front of Consumerist!

    We’ve been taken over by Detectivist?

  2. TheUpMyAssPlayers says:

    Ooooo hot site. Much better. That dark background was depressing.

  3. Good! Listen up Mr. Screamy Kid. If it were my airline you wouldn’t get your refund. Your kid had to have been causing some serious trouble to GROUND A FREAKIN’ PLANE. Teach your little monkey how to behave in public or kennel it.

  4. kellkell says:

    More airlines should do this. I was on a Delta flight to Hawaii from Denver and had 3 kids and their dad behind me. For all but about 30 minutes the kids were screeching, kicking the seats and climbing on the backs of them. The father was repeatedly asked to control his children and finally said, “look they’re kids” like that was an excuse. He was trying to quietly reason with his children who were about 3 – 6 and they just ignored him.
    I would pay more for a childless flight.

  5. J DTZR says:

    Me, I says good for AirTran. Seriously.

  6. ediebeale says:

    1. They paid 585.00 for 3 tickets? (or am I reading that wrong?) If it’s true, I gots to get me some AirTran!

    2. I don’t always love children, but I HATE smug, self-righteous parents who don’t understand how their little darling’s screaming physical incident would bother someone else or be a safety risk. When I behaved badly as a child in a restaurant, store, etc., I was taken out of the situation. Not coddled, not reasoned with, just removed without fanfair.

    3. I wish more airlines did this. Maybe then there’d be less children (or less screaming children, anyhow) on flights.

  7. VG10 says:

    there was an article on (local atlanta news) saying AirTran was getting a TON of positive feedback about this move.

  8. FunPaul says:

    I don’t need to go anywhere, but all of a sudden I kind of feel like flying AirTran.

  9. shoegazer says:

    oh, and totally support the airline on this one. It’s the same principle as people getting drunk in the business lounge and turning up an hour late to the gate. Your luggage has been offloaded, asshole.

  10. crayonshinobi says:

    I think it was George Carlin who made the suggestion that since flights are no smoking, why can’t they have “no children” flights?

  11. matto says:

    My only dissapointment is that AirTran felt like they owed these rubes something after kicking them off the plane. In a perfect world, the parents would have been held accountable for the time they wasted for the 200 other passengers on the plane.

  12. lemur says:

    Yeah, well, like many others I’m totally with AirTran on this one. A good deal of parents nowadays let their children get away with murder and then are all surprised when they get a negative reaction from the rest of society.

  13. MarcAnthony says:

    ha ha detectivist!
    i want the blackness back!

  14. MissPinkKate says:

    Woohoo, go Airtran!

  15. Baz says:

    Pull the little fuckers. If people can’t give their kids Nyquil to fly, then they can go charter. Nicely done AirTran!

  16. acambras says:

    Yeah, I’ve read several articles about this story. A few make it sound like it was just about the kid screaming and crying. But then others mention how the child would not get in her seat and was on the floor throwing a tantrum and beating on her parents’ legs. An Air-Tran flight attendant advised the parents that for safety reasons, any child over 2 must be strapped into his/her own seat and may not ride in a parent’s lap during takeoff. The flight had already been delayed for 15 minutes and there were over 100 other passengers and crew to consider.

    The parents are doing some serious victim-playing, here. They whine about how the airline didn’t give them an opportunity to console their child — but there’s usually quite a bit of time between boarding and takeoff, right? And a lot of airlines offer priority boarding to people traveling with small children.

    Some articles have said that the family was “banned” from traveling for 24 hours, but I have read differing accounts on this. I’ve read that AirTran offered them seats on other flights that day, but that the family declined because they wanted a non-stop flight only. So it doesn’t seem to be AirTran’s fault that the family was in Orlando another 24 hours.

    I love kids and I know that crying children on airplanes are a fact of life. Flying sucks, especially for little ones who can’t regulate the pressure in their ears. However, it seems like this kid had issues unrelated to air pressure (plane hadn’t taken off yet) and the parents expected AirTran to delay an already late departure so that they could reason with their three-year-old. That’s pretty inconsiderate of the parents. The kid can cry and scream all the way to Boston as long as she’s strapped in her seat and isn’t holding up the whole flight.

    And AirTran really went out of their way to make a goodwill gesture by offering the family refunds PLUS free extra tickets. That’s more than the family deserves. They’re very self-righteous, saying they’ll never fly AirTran again. Sounds like a plus for AirTran and all of its passengers.

  17. sp3nc3 says:

    After seeing this couple making their rounds on the news interview circuit the past few days, I let out a groan of disgust when I saw their faces yet again this morning. But my disgust was immediately swept away when the newscaster said that public opinion has been something like 91% in favor of AirTran.

  18. Kornkob says:

    It’s hard not to see the airline’s side here. I’m sorry mommies and daddies but if you’ve decided to have kids that comes with EXTRA responsibility to be courteous to the people around you. If that means that you don’t get to go to the opera, fine resturants or fly when your kid is out of control then that’s part of the package.

    You see, the other passengers paid for our tickets too and if your kid is keepingit from taking off, kicking you off the plane is the fairest thing to do for everyone else on the flight.

    Now if we can just get movie theaters, resturants and playhouses to bring the hammer down on selfish parents.

  19. officedrone4 says:

    I like how the woman said they just needed more time to console the child. Seriously, it’s a shame, but strap the child in, and console her from there.

    It sucks, but that’s the price you pay for having children. Sometimes they aren’t going to cooperate in social settings and YOU, repeat YOU, not everyone around you, but YOU, are going to have to adjust your (and their) behavior accordingly.

    My parents had to leave many a movie and restaurant because I was an uncooperative child. It’s what happens. They should be thankful that in this situation they were compensated for their flight, so they didn’t have to make the difficult decision to leave on their on.

    Side note: I bet most of our parents would have smacked us and told us to be quiet. This article says the girl was hitting her parents. Amazing that no one says anything when a child hits their parents in public, but if that same parent were to smack the child and tell it to be quiet everyone would be up in arms.

    Call me old fashioned, but I think corporeal punishment and child abuse are two very different things.

  20. wenhaver says:

    I too, want to fly AirTran now. Especially considering if my kids act up, I’ll get my tickets comped and free tickets for a future flight!

    Seriously, though, those parents should be ashamed of themselves. I’ve had to pick my 2 year old up, kicking and screaming, to buckle him into his car seat. It happens. Sometimes you just can’t console them. But you know what? I’m bigger than he is. That means his butt is getting strapped in no matter what his opinions on the matter are.

  21. thwarted says:

    I’m so flying AirTran from now on.

    The thing that really gets me about this story is that the family wanted “just a few more minutes” to calm the kid. The flight was already 15 minutes late!

  22. Greeper says:

    I heard this mom complaining in a press conference. Is ti possible to reach through the radio to smack someone? Cause I tried but it didn’t work. Dear Air Tran: I love you.

  23. LawyerontheDL says:

    Do you think that Air Tran will be opening a restaurant anytime soon? I’m so there. Instead of giving those parents free tickets, Air Tran should have given them a gift certificate for a family psychilogist and a lifetime supply of Benadryl.

  24. What, the parents would rather the plane take out without their little angel in a seat and prone to injury?

    Agree with thwarted – if you can’t calm your kid in 15 minutes, a few extra isn’t going to get you anywhere.

  25. RandomHookup says:

    Seems just like all the kids on Nanny 911 — the perfect show for childless folks to feel infinitely superior to bad parents.

  26. etinterrapax says:

    I think it was outrageous of Air Tran to basically reward these people for being unable to parent their kid. But I hardly blame the airline for asking them to leave the plane. The very most they owed the family was passage on the next flight. What they owed to the rest of the plane for having to put up with this nonsense is something else again.

  27. etinterrapax says:

    RandomHookup, even we parents watch that show to feel superior. Sometimes it’s the only chance we get. Those people are so horrible, it makes my stomach hurt to watch it.

  28. CursedFrogurt says:

    When I heard this on my local news, my immediate thought was “What’s the other side of the story”. And, lo… Here it is.

    I, too, agree that AirTran did the right thing in this circumstance (comping free tix may be over-the-top, but whatever). I am lucky in that my kids are awesome travelers and I don’t have to consider what I would do in this circumstance (which would be to make them sit down, by force if necessary).

    With that said, after reading the posts above, I came away with a taste of “keep yer brats quiet and no one gets hurt”. Keep in mind, folks, that infants (

  29. spryte says:

    I add my voice to the others cheering AirTran. I am NOT a kid person at all, and when children are acting like that it seriously makes me crazy. I also cannot stand parents who think that no one else has a right to say anything about their child’s behavior even when the behavior is obviously affecting anyone nearby. These stupid breeders who think that their child is some sort of angel no matter what they’re doing reassure me that we ought to make people take IQ and common-sense tests before being allowed to produce offspring.

    To officedrone4, who said:
    “Side note: I bet most of our parents would have smacked us and told us to be quiet. This article says the girl was hitting her parents. Amazing that no one says anything when a child hits their parents in public, but if that same parent were to smack the child and tell it to be quiet everyone would be up in arms.”

    –you are kidding, right? There’s a wee bit of difference between a toddler slapping her parent’s leg and an adult smacking a child in the face. If we were talking about a teenager beating up a parent, yes that is just as detestable as child abuse…but no 3 year old is actually going to cause any physica harm to a grown person.

  30. homerjay says:

    I would like to see just one person here TRY to take the parents side. Just try….

  31. Kornkob says:

    What they owed to the rest of the plane for having to put up with this nonsense is something else again.

    What they owed the other passengers is exactly what they gave them: a speedy resolution to an unforeseen problem.

    That’s the problem: many companies are so afriad of being seen as not ‘family friendly’ that their staff is not given the tools or authority to eject people who bring a disruptive child into the business.

    And that’s what people are reacting positively to: a company that does empower their employees to take care of those disruptions.

  32. kimdog says:

    Kudos for AirTran (formerly known as Value Jet) on this issue. They are also the only airline to ever bump me and my bf up to first class after a particularly hellish flight caused us to miss our connection. And that was the first time we had ever flown them.

  33. All the feedback and links to my post on my site, about this, has been pro AirTrans.

  34. kellkell says:

    To spryte says: but no 3 year old is actually going to cause any physica harm to a grown person.

    I have a friend who has a 3 year old who hits her and her husband and I have to tell ya, he does inflict damage. She has bruises on her legs and arms all the time. The boy not only hits them with fists but with objects and cut the husbands face. They do not spank, nor do they do much in the way of any sort of discipline. As a result I very rarely ever go to their home. His behavior is their fault, I just wanted to let you know a 3 year old can inflict damage. Just ask their 60 inch HDTV that has a huge crack from one of his tantrums.

  35. humphrmi says:

    My concern is that this will create a “me too” affect on other airlines, and give FA’s the feeling of carte blanche to pull passengers as soon as a kid gives out a whimper.

    Mind you, I agree fully with AirTran’s decision, if the kid can’t sit in the seat and the plane’s ready to go, the kid’s gotta go.

    But, as a parent of a child who *sometimes* cries when made to sit strapped in a seat, but then gets over it when the plane starts moving and is generally fine, I worry that someone is going to get bumped just because of that.

    Hopefully that won’t happen. Again, good job Airtran.

  36. RobUsdin says:

    I do think the airline has the flight to consider, but might have been a little sympathetic – instead of banning them for 24 hours – they could have simply said they’d put the on the next flight as long as seating was available. The 24 hour ban is debatable – but it if is true, then the airline could have been a little more sympathetic.

    As far as calming the kid down – it’s obvious that few of the commenters here have kids. Having a three year old – I know the volatile nature of a 3 year old’s mind. They can go from screaming to calm in under two minutes – as long as the pressure’s off. Kids sense tension in their parents and channel it into themselves. If the flight crew and any passengers standing around had been able to give the parents 5 more minutes without standing over them, shooting them glares and pouring on the pressure….they may have been able to calm the child. So I see the parents’ side in this.

    I also know that the airline had a schedule to keep, and if they couldn’t accomodate the family, so be it. But making parenting judgements about these people without having been there and witnessing the situation is just wrong.

    I have to say I’m a little disturbed by the “hang the parents” attitude I’m seeing here. That kind of mob mentality – “Booyah! AirTRAN ROCKS for kickin’ them and their little rugrat to da curb!” – really folks….it’s a bit much.


  37. xenth says:

    Wow it is so unusual to see people act correctly when dealing with parents who do not know how to control their kids. If we’d stop being so accepting of uncontrolled kids then we might have to endure less of this sort of thing.

    I bet a cheer went up when they were escorted off.

  38. homerjay says:

    I have two children. One of them was recently 3 and on an airplane. He is well behaved and properly (not corprally) disciplined. He didn’t and would never have been allowed to do anything even remotely like that.

    Rob, given what we know, these people are textbook ASSHAT parents.

  39. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    Once when I was flying Southwest I was talking to one of the flight crew who told me that they had to kick off a family for an unruly kid on the leg before ours. Everyone around who heard it said they wished airlines would do it more often. Didn’t hear anything about that incident on the news, these parents are just opportunists who can’t control their own kid.

  40. any such name says:

    after having spent monday in disneyland with kids running up my back in almost every line i was in (minor, i know, but parents – have your little brats not touch strangers in line, please!); and then having been on the flight back from LA that included children – none of them disruptive – i say good for airtran.

    also, as others have pointed out, parents with children are allowed to board first for this very reason – get the kid in his/her seat, get them prepared, calmed down, etc. etc.

    if this were an adult holding up the flight for whatever reason, he/she would have been kicked off as well (didn’t you guys report on the drunk broad from the boston–>sf flight earlier this week???)

  41. srhbks says:

    It’s one thing for a child to be crying and screaming before take off- let’s face it, even the most well behaved three year old is going to have a temper tantrum once in a while. But if the kid won’t take her seat, the plane can’t take off. How is this any different than a belligerent adult preventing take-off?

    Plus, the kid is three. Pick her up, put her in the seat, buckle her in, and physically hold her there until she calms down.

    These people got to fly home, got their money refunded, and could have had another round trip flight. Seems like a pretty cushy deal, considering.

  42. justelise says:

    I am down with any airline who will put their foot down with parents who don’t know how to control their kid. I would even pay a premium to ride on flights that were did not have children under the age of 10 on them. I also commend AirTran for not putting them on the next flight out either. What makes anyone think that these parents who couldn’t control their child in the first place would’ve been able to get the kid to behave in the 45 minutes they had (or whatever arbitrary time window) until the next flight takes off. The kid needed a time out and got one courtesy of AirTran. The other passengers got a reprieve and the parents had a good 24 hours to think about how they failed their kid and themselves as parents. Now if restaurants could be convinced to do the same thing. This isn’t about a prejudice against parents or children. This should be used as a wakeup call for parents who don’t know how to discipline their children. It is not ok to have your child run AMOK and turn the lives of all of the people around you upside down too.

  43. acambras says:


    I’ve read in a few places that the family wasn’t “banned” from the airline for 24 hours, but that AirTran offered other flights that day and that the parents chose not to take those flights because they weren’t non-stop.

    Sounds like the parents conveniently left that out when they were talking to the media.

  44. spin_sycle says:

    i rad this on the msnbc site and 95% of posts were yay airtran (I totaly support the airline!!) but to read the small handful who were opposed to the action was entertainment on a whole new level!

  45. Frank Grimes says:

    Wow…do any of you have kids? Have you traveled with them? For a different take see this:

  46. jacques says:

    I’ve seen this on both the Boston Globe and Chicago Trib’s sites. Both had polls that were north of 90% favouring the airline too. Maybe this will be the tipping point for ones to start offering child-free zones

  47. dotorg greg says:

    yeah, it’s not at all clear that the kid was delaying the flight, the airline was doing that already.

    then there’s the part about the plane flying off with their car seat and luggage still onboard [of course, pulling it would’ve delayed the flt even more], and the unsolicited parenting lectures from the gate agent.

    Somewhere in there, AirTran’s offer sounds like a giant CYA. I mean, when has an airline–an airline!–EVER refunded your money AND still flown you home AND given you free tickets?

    Still, gotta love AirTran’s PR jiujitsu, realizing people hate screaming kids even more than they hate ghetto airlines.

  48. ediebeale says:

    That’s an opinion piece, not a news story; the author inserts herself in to the story like a small town Cindy Adams. I don’t care how heartwarming and wonderful their trip to Florida was, or that the Dad is in nursing school, that’s not the issue at hand. The issue at hand is the child’s behavior, the parents’ inability to curb her tantrum, and their whining when they were presented with the only solution that would work to make the plane take off sort of on time and keep the other passengers happy. If they were mistreated by an employee of AirTran, that is another issue, and one that should be addressed, but the simple fact that they were taken off the plane was the correct decision by AirTran.
    And why would you take a child who just had EAR SURGERY on a plane less than a month later? If it was that serious, they should have postponed the trip. That, and not the other stuff, makes me think they’re not amazing parents.

  49. jacques says:

    That telegram article had a distinct John Stossel wannabe tone.

  50. Celeste says:

    I’m a new parent, and I 100% side with AirTran on this one. Just crying is one thing, but the kid isn’t in the seat, parents aren’t willing to use superior size and strength, then they’ve gotta go. Asking an entire planeload of passengers to wait your daughter’s screaming fit out is not reasonable.

    On the other hand, fear of using force and having to deal with accusations of child abuse might have had something to with the parent’s reluctance to just manhandle their daughter into their seat. There are always plenty of childless self-righteous types who will jump all over you with their ideas of how you should be handling the situation. Like spryte, who has obviously never had their nose bloodied by a furious toddler, or been punched in the balls.

  51. dan_007 says:

    I’m with Mr Grimes!

    There are always two sides to a story. I absolutely do not condone parents who believe that everyone should be subjected to their kids’ bad behavior. But kids are kids and is a part of our civilization and as such must be tolerated. I’ve read quite a few posts above about “selfish parents”. Sounds like you’re pretty selfish and immature to not understand that folks can sometimes have challenges with their children.

    And yes, I have a 4 year old and a 1 year old, and we’ve flown quite a few national and international flights with our kid(s). I used to be much less understanding of parents’ dilemmas with their kids, but I have toned that down a lot since having children of my own.

  52. Skyoodpov says:

    AirTran is definitely in the right on this one. You can’t have a kid loose in the aisles during takeoff. One sharp bump and you have a meaty, smelly, screaming projectile whizzing through the cabin.

    My parents would beat the hell out of me, usually with kitchen utensils (the spaghetti spoon with the little pegs in it was often the weapon of choice) and it kept me and my sister in line. If your kid needs a spanking, spank them. Mercilessly. Its for their own good.

    On the topic of obnoxious kids/parents on a plane. I had the joy of a toddler pooping his diaper in the seat next to mine. Fair enough, it happens to the best of us. What does mommy do? Folds down the tray table and changes the little bastard right there, about 18 inches from my snack pack. Wonderful.

  53. pestie says:

    God bless Airtran! I think my first-ever Consumerist post was about how I’d never forget that Airtran used to be ValuJet, which couldn’t spell correctly, had a stupid happy-plane logo, and crashed into the freakin’ Everglades, but you know what? They keep this up and I’ll choose them every time.

  54. kcs says:

    Remember a few years ago when a flight attendant was charged with assualt for putting a sleeping pill into apple juice and serving it to a crying child?

    If we were the jury of his peers, he would have certainly been acquitted.

  55. BillyShears says:

    I’m telling you, I’m going to make a fortune on manufacturing and selling sedatives for infants and toddlers, a product specifically designed to put them in an Alien-esque “hypersleep” for, say, 2-3 hours. A maximum strength version would knock them out for 6.

  56. MollyNYC says:

    I’ve had to deal with thoughtless twits while flying, but none specifically involving children.

    However, even thoughtless twits reproduce, so I don’t know that this is so much about people who travel with kids, as about people who travel without the slightest concern for anyone else (and who seem determined to impart this family value to their offspring).

  57. dwneylonsr says:

    I have 3 children and six grandchildren. I’m convinced that the parents here were at fault for failing to control their child. Even at 3 a child understands ‘sit down and shut up’. And even if they do continue to cry there can be no excuse outside of being physically disabled that you can’t pick them up, sit them down, and buckle them in.

  58. Metschick says:

    I have a child (who’ll be 2 in March), and I applaud Air Tran as well. The problem here isn’t the crying, which I hate even when it comes from my own little angel, but the fact that the parents didn’t put the kid in his/her seat. Pick him/her up, place him/her in the seat, buckle ’em up, and that’s it! Let ’em cry, but at least the plane’ll finally leave.

  59. homerjay says:

    Molly, you are 100% correct. Absolutely, positively. But when two thoughtless twits reproduce, they generally create and raise another thoughtless twit (even though she’s too young to control it because her thoughtless twit parents haven’t taught her how). Now you have three thoughtless twits all teamed up into one supertwit team. THAT is what we’re all so against here.

  60. Metschick says:

    I had the joy of a toddler pooping his diaper in the seat next to mine. Fair enough, it happens to the best of us. What does mommy do? Folds down the tray table and changes the little bastard right there, about 18 inches from my snack pack.

    That is just nasty.

  61. Hirayuki says:

    Another Airtran supporter here; I’m really disappointed they offered free tickets to this family, though, as it implies the airline did something wrong in booting them off the plane.

    My son will be taking his first plane trip (12 hours!) this April at 7 months old. I’ve seen enough awful behavior from children (and their oblivious parents) out in public that I’m going to make *damn* sure my son won’t be That Goddamn Baby no matter where we go. They *do* make mild sedatives for infants and I’m *not* afraid to use them if I have to (although he’s a very quiet and friendly kind of guy…so far).

  62. BareFeet says:

    There are few indignities on this earth that can compare with being trapped on a transcontinental flight. No leg room, the world’s least appetizing ham sandwich, rude passengers, recirculated air, not being able to smoke…the list goes on. Screaming children? I’m amazed the other passengers didn’t bum-rush them off the plane. If I ran the airline, you can bet that that all that family would have recieved was a stern lecture on controlling their damn children, a free drink voucher for their inconvenience and a terse “Good day, sirs.”

  63. spryte says:

    In response to a few comments…okay okay, yes…children can hurt you in their feral tazmanian-devil-type outbursts…but I stand by what I said that there is a difference between a poorly behaved child acting on their little baby inner demons, and a parent backhanding a child across the face. The point is that a child not being in control of their impulses is slightly more understandable than an adult being the same way. I am an aunt and I have been punched in the boobs (sometimes accidentally, sometimes due to toddler-rage) more than a few times. Does that mean it’s ok for me to punch the kid in the face? No.

    Someone mentioned “self-righteous childless people”. I don’t tell anyone how they should dress their child, or what to feed them, or what time to put them to bed, but if their child is causing a ruckus that is interfering with me in some way, I am absolutely in the right to say something to the parent regarding controlling the child.

  64. mathew says:

    I would literally pay extra to be on a “no children” flight, or even in a “no children” section of the plane. Air carriers, please take note.

  65. formergr says:

    Hirayuki, I’m sure your flight will go well, since it sounds like you’re already thinking ahead and planning contingencies. As a frequent flyer (and a mostly transatlantic one at that), for me it’s not a crying child that drives me nuts (though it’s not exactly music to my ears) since duh it’s a baby and they can’t help it, but instead it’s a crying child whose parents just sit there.

    All I want to see is some minimal effort to soothe/quiet the baby, whether holding, rocking, or even getting up and walking with it if possible. I’ve seen a good number of flight attendants offer to do this as well.

    Last week I was in an airline’s premier lounge, and a father let his 18-month old baby cry and cry alone in an armchair about 10 ft from him while mom was up going to the bathroom or something. For a good 15 minutes, all because he was playing on his computer and couldn’t be bothered. After 5 or 6 glares of death from me, he finally got up and made a half-assed effort to comfort the poor thing, who was over-tired and probably scared to be alone at that point.

  66. formergr says:

    And after reading the linked opinion piece (and I agree it deserves a big eye roll), I call bs on the parents. First, the mother says in reference to what an angel their little darling was on the flight out, “When we made our descent into Florida we could see the water and she shouted, ‘Look, mommy, there’s the beach where we go swimming,’ and everyone laughed.”

    But then as a possible explanation for the kid’s sudden freak-out on boarding the plane for the flight home, “Her mom thinks it may have been because of the ear surgery Elly underwent earlier this month, and perhaps her memory of the discomfort and ear pressure she endured during the plane’s descent into Florida.”

    Really? So if her post-surgical ears hurt so much on descent, how was she able to so cheerfully point out the beach, hmm?

  67. planetdaddy says:

    Here is a copy of the email that I sent

    “Too many time I have been forced to put up with unruly children that a parent(s) refused to keep in line. I applaud you on your actions and hope that it is a new benchmark in the airline industry. Bravo.”

    I encourage any like minded individuals to do the same, because I am sure that they are getting plenty of email from parents who don’t handle their children.


    If you can’t keep your children in line or you don’t have the ability or knowledge of how to keep your child in check perhaps you should ALL do us a favor and not leave the house.

  68. RobUsdin says:

    I just have to respond to one thing – the folks here saying that you should just pick up the kid and put them in the seat.

    Folks – if you have ever tried to pick up a 35 lb screaming, temper tantrum child you know that they do one of two things:

    1 – They do the go limp routine – and you canm’t pick them up.

    2 – They continue to kick, scream and hit. In an enclosed space such as a plane with overhead bins and a narrow aisle- they could seriously hurt themselves – and other passengers.

    That is why the parents wanted to calm the kid down. Just take a few seconds and think about that. I’m not taking the parents’ side here. If the child would not listen, and the parents would not get her in the seat – the airline is justified. BUT – I’ve been there with a temper tantrum three year old, and even parents with the best parenting skills can have a bad day.

    I’m just playingf devil’s advocate – just trying to play out the “other side”. Often we latch onto one side of the story totally and take it to the extreme. Step back and realize there are usually three sides to every story, one, the other, and the truth somewhere in the middle. We don’t have all the details.


  69. Step back and realize there are usually three sides to every story, one, the other, and the truth somewhere in the middle.

    Rob, you sound like a Vorlon. :)

    I suppose AirTran may have given the parents what they did because of the supervisor who went into a parenting lecture. Not to mention letting the plane take off with their luggage (someone mentioned that above). I can also give the parents the benefit of the doubt and take their word that they were doing everything they could to get the child in her seat.

    But I can’t say that ejecting them was wrong. Neither the airline nor the passengers are obligated to wait while another passenger refuses to be seated. They should have gotten their luggage and they shouldn’t have gotten the lecture but I think they should have been removed from the plane too.

  70. Sudonum says:

    I have a 3 year old male grand child, and it doesn’t take much effort to put him in a chair and tell him that he is on time out. And when he starts crying, I ask him if he is hurt. He usually slips out a “no” between blubbers. I tell him that if he isn’t hurt he is to sit and be quiet because he is on time out. It works every time. And guess what? Out of all the people in his life I am the one he always wants to see and spend time with.

    And Rob, as others have pointed out, they had at least 15 minutes to “calm” the child before the doors closed and the plane took off.

    If you can’t or won’t control you child or pet, then leave them at home.

  71. madktdisease says: published a very, very one-sided piece on this I read yesterday. It completely failed to mention that the child was not buckled in and the parents refused to do so. It claimed AirTran kicked the child off because it was crying. And this wasn’t, to my knowledge, an op-ed piece. It really pissed me off that they didn’t tell the truth in their news story – but it isn’t surprising. The couple was NOT banned (According to the Herald article I read this morning) they just REFUSED to take a connection flight! They were flying out of Fort Myers, which is a pretty small airport. Almost all the airtran flights from Ft Meyers go to Ohare (I have an Open Airport Guide built into the software where I work). Boo-hoo, life is sooo hard for them.

    To echo everyone’s sentiments, my parents would have restrained me, calmed me down, and apologized PROFUSELY.

  72. snowferret says:

    This is retarded, if they are going to let peopel book flights with toddlers they had better be prepared for the way toddlers will behave. This CAN’T be the first time a kid has been cried on a plane. I pay hundreds of dollars every year to take the bus and I see children crying or throwing tantrums every now and then. The driver never kicks them off. What do they expect? Kids to act like adults? Yeah that makes sence!

  73. madktdisease says:

    snowferret, this was far beyond “crying”. I fully expect and prepare for crying kids on a flight, as I’m sure most people do. But for the parents to hold up an entire flight until their Unique and Precious Snowflake tuckers her little self out is ridiculous and unreasonable, and it crossed the line of acceptable social behavior. The issue was not the crying, the issue was the parents’ refusal to buckle their child in the seat even though they had plenty of time to do so.

  74. I’d pay extra to be in the “hot single mom with kid” section of a plane.

    Just saying.

    But good move AirTran.

  75. Benny Gesserit says:

    As my mom used to say “They make you take a test to learn how to drive but anybody can have a kid.”

  76. Musician78 says:

    Even if the kid wasn’t not taking their seat, I don’t want to listen to a screaming kid for an entire flight, or at all for that matter. Just because other people want to have kids doesn’t mean I want to deal with them.

    This may be apples and oranges, but, I can’t smoke on a plane, because other people don’t want to deal with the adverse health effects, I don’t want to hear a screaming child for the adverse mental health effects.

    When I first heard about this, I was impressed as hell, but had to listen to my g/f tell me how insensitive I was for agreeing with the airline.

  77. flyover says:

    Hey musician, I am a girl and I too would PAY extra to be on the ejecting-noisy-babies flights.

    If I am on a red-eye home and have to work the next day, there better be a DAMN good reason why you can’t either naturally or with medication get your kid to sleep.
    Hell even if I don’t have to work I expect a quiet flight as part of my paying for it.

  78. I’m on the “Go AirTran!” side as well, but my only hesitation is the “slippery slope” effect. Sure, this situation was as black & white as it gets: the child wasn’t buckled into her seat, and that is against safety standards for her as well as the other passengers.

    But what about the annoying kid kicking the back of your chair? Or a child that is crying loudly, but in his/her seat? Would it be up to a jury of 10 passengers? If so, I can see tons of kids getting booted off, just because they were doing kid-type things.

  79. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Personally, I applaud AirTran. I understand that children can be unruly and that they can’t always be controlled. However, there is a limit. Should 100+ passengers all miss their connecting flights because the child wouldn’t calm down? Should everyone else on the plane (who also paid good money for their tickets) be forcefully subjected to the screams and tantrums? Airline travel is stressful enough without having to listen to 5 hours of a child screaming at the top of their lungs.

    Again, there are reasonable limits, but by the same token, if a passenger was drunk and was running up and down the aisles yelling insults and kicking seats, he or she wouldn’t last long. This was an extreme case, and certainly the very rare exception rather than the rule.

    It’s not like the pilot opened the emergency exit and kicked the child out at 30,000 feet. The child was preventing the aircraft from taking off and being totally disruptive to the other passengers, so the crew did what they had to do.

    I’m tired of people letting their children run amok and out of control everywhere..including airports, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, supermarkets and whatnot. A child could be pulling down a whole display of cans and the parent would be blissfully yakking away on their cellphone, knowing that everyone else just has to deal with it because heaven forbid anyone say anything or merely suggest that a child be disciplined and controlled.

  80. dantsea says:

    Flight attendants deal with screaming children and unruly adults on almost every flight, every working day. The behavior of this child and her parents was so bad that people who are used to screeching, ill-behaved customers chose not to deal with them.

    Just something for those excusing that trio to chew on.

  81. synergy says:

    From watching this “parent” on a couple of interviews, I stopped paying attention to her and paid attention to her daughter. In neither interview did she behave. She was a sandwich short of a picnic in the first interview I saw. Since I missed the intro to the story I was sitting here wondering if this child had some sort of mental problem and the airline was being insensitive towards the mentally ill. Seriously. I’m not being snarky.

  82. emax4 says:

    I think Bill Cosby covered this in a live act with the reference of “Jeffrey”. Does anyone remember this? I think as the parents and kids were getting off, all the airline passengers should have harassed both the kid and the parents as they were getting off the plane.

    And I so hope these parents try to sue, because in return they’ll be hit with a lawsuit from every one of the passengers that had to put up with the unruly child. I want front-row seats for that trial.

    Someone commented that the parents were interviewed on ABC and it was one-sided. Obviously there were more passengers on board so why don’t they present themselves on ABC and explain their side of the story as well. That’s sure to boost the image of AirTran and make the parents look like the losers they are.

    I have to admit that if I were one of the passengers, I would just end up biting my lip hoping for the best. But I also believe that parents like these who wouldn’t calm down their kid thrive on others like me who probably wouldn’t stand up to them. In a sense I think the general consumer social practice nowadays is that one might be able to get away with something, then expect it all the time and take it for granted.

    I just read the recent article about a group of passengers that wanted to start a Passengers Bill of Rights. And what timing! This should apply to trains and buses as well.

  83. Joe says:

    fricking rubes…

  84. superbmtsub says:

    They should do that on all the other flights. OR have the parents pay EVERY passenger (in the same compartment zone) $10 for every hour of the trip.

  85. Samby says:

    While I agree that the airline made the right decision in kicking off a family who wouldn’t buckle in a child, I’m not entirely sure that it couldn’t have been avoided with a proper warning. It sounds like the flight attendant asked the parents to control the child twice, and then kicked them off. If she had given fair warning, (if she’s not buckled in within two minutes, you’ll be asked to leave the plane), they might have just picked her up and strapped her in.
    That said, I do feel for the parents. I’m a mother of five, and I have travelled with my children before. They are generally well-behaved, but I have had some difficult flights with them, and I know the stress of trying to calm and/or discipline your child while feeling the despleasure of all of your fellow passengers. I’m not saying that what happened is okay, just that it’s a very stressful situation and easy to make mistakes.

  86. Samby says:

    Oh, and to all the people who keep saying that parents should walk their screaming child up and down the aisles: You think that you want that, but trust me, you don’t. I tried it once, and realized that all I was doing was taking my screaming baby out of a small, enclosed space which somewhat dampened the sound, and carried her into a more open space where the sound travelled better.
    She was also better able to disturb everybody that way, because I brought her past people who otherwise were no where near us. This taught me to comfort a crying child at my seat unless I was completely sure that they would calm down otherwise!

  87. Frank Grimes says:

    Hirayuki…goog luck with your kids first flight, mine took his first at seven months and has been on at least a half dozen more and was always fine. I will caution you when you say…”They *do* make mild sedatives for infants and I’m *not* afraid to use them if I have to”. Unless your going to slip your kid a mickey I’m assuming your talking about Baby Benadryl. Be VERY careful becuase in anywhere from 20-30% of kids this will actually produce a counter effect (hyperactive kid) than the intended effect, drooling, sleeping infant. If you go to and search for tags with travel there are a few good discussions about this.

  88. Seacub says:

    I look forward to giving AirTran my business whenever possible from now on. Kudos to them doing the right thing by considering the comfort and safey of over 100 other paying customers. I hope other airlines see this as a good example, especially after the surprising support for AirTran.

    The family needs to buy a mini-van. Boston to Florida is quite a drive, but maybe that’s the price to pay when you have screaming kids?

  89. TechnoDestructo says:

    Once, I was flying on Alaska Airlines, and there was a little girl, maybe 3 or 4 years old, sitting across the aisle from me, bawling her eyes out and screaming. You could see everyone around her getting annoyed. The mother tried to calm her kid down for a minute or two, but then gave up and just sat there looking embarassed.

    I was getting fed up, sitting there, clenching my fists and gritting my teeth. Finally I just suddenly snapped my head around towards the little girl. The sudden movement got her attention, and I locked eyes with her, displaying the angriest look I’ve ever had on my face. I didn’t say a word. I just stared at her. She immediately shut up and sank down into her seat as though she was trying to slink out of sight.

    The mother burst out laughing. The little girl didn’t make a peep the rest of the flight.

  90. Trai_Dep says:

    The only way that I’d be supportive of AirTran was if they ejected the mewling brat at 20,000 feet. Screw legroom – gimme a brat-free flight anytime.

    Parent-types need to realize that their little buttercups of joy and light need to behave when in public. Or don’t take them out. (A five-minute rule seems fair – if brats can’t be heeled and muzzled in that time then ‘rents need to take them back home and train ’em until they can).

  91. Tonguetied says:

    I don’t want to listen to a screaming kid for an entire flight but I understand that it happens. I’ve been on flights were the baby is screaming. And all the adults grit their teeth and take it as best we can because kids are kids and grownups understand.

    The crux of the problem here was this child’s refusal to be buckled in and her parents refusal to be parents and MAKE her obey.

    Incidentally my son is 7 years old and if he were refusing to be buckled in her would get a quick swat on the backside and told to behave. He might cry but he would be crying with the seatbelt in place and the plane would be able to take off.

  92. laurajt says:


    Idiot parents and their offspring be warned! Respect for others is compulsory!

    Gutsy move, AIRTRAN, I’m backing you all the way on this one . . .

  93. LonelyAmongMany says:

    How many people commenting here have children ? *
    How many people commenting here, having children really educate and raise them ? (overbooked professionals doesn’t qualify)

    But most of all : How many people doubt the AirTrans view of the situation ?
    After all, so many companies spin the truth to turn it in their favor, to look good. Anybody has the parents version ?

    A bit of critical thinking would help a lot before writing those comments. those are acceptable (sort of) from teenagers, but from grown-ups…
    Oh, sorry i forgot that everybody is a teenager on the net.


  94. cmego says:

    I absolutely support AirTran. These parents aren’t being parents, they are letting the child parent them. I am a mother and my little boy never acted like that, no matter where I would take him…he knew better.

    I work with pediatricians, and I know that it can be difficult to restrain a writhing 3 year old. But it can be done, and it can be done in such a way that neither the child nor the parent gets hurt.

    Unfortunately, I see instances every day of parents returning their small children to the doctor for a repeat sick visit because their children “refuse to take the medicine” that had previously been prescribed. It’s hard not to tell the parents that they need to grow a spine, be a real parent, and make these kids take their medicine. The parents I see on a regular basis seem just like the ones on the AirTran flight…in denial that their children are out of control, woefully self-centered, and are more concerned about being their child’s friend instead of being their child’s parent.

  95. aidan.hadley says:

    I’ve had flights that have been made miserable because of mis-behaved kids. One over-enthusiastic kid, who didn’t know the difference between an INSIDE voice and an OUTSIDE, voice made a flight from Seattle to LA the longest I’ve ever had. And a kid kicking the back of my seat for an hour was bad enough without having the parents ask “What do you want us to do about it?” when I finally asked them if they could stop it. This is NOT directed to all of those parents out there who are actually awake at the parenting wheel, but I’d pay a premium for a child-free flight. I’m on Airtran’s side 100% in this case.

  96. rosserfan says:

    Airtran is so ghetto. And their flight attendants are rude and bitchy. Don’t strain yourselves handing out that bag of mini-pretzels and tap water!

  97. radiofree says:

    Wow. Such vitriol thrown at the parents and such milk and honey poured into the AirTran cup.

    What I got from the story is: The plane was already 15 minutes late;
    The toddler was not cooperating with her parents.

    It does NOT say that the plane was 15 minutes late because of the toddler.

    As for the other travellers and the posters here who are giving AirTran carte blanche, I think you are misguided. You are taking your dislike of traveling with children and putting it into a situation where the details are scant.

    I do not side with AirTran. It will be a cold day in hell (or a smokey day in the plane’s restroom) when I side with an airline over its treatment of passengers.

  98. tomtermite says:

    Let’s just ban children, PERIOD! They are snot nosed, crying, money-sucking parasites. Who cares if the human race expires in 100 years, anyway. I’ll be dead and gone. Suck it, species! I’ve got mine!

  99. happytraveler says:

    I feel Airtran did the right thing. What I don’t understand is why one of the parents did not sit in the same row with the child? Why was she sitting in a row by herself? Pity on the passenger that had to sit next to this unrudly, child. I highly recommend parenting class and or Nanny 911. I am also glad they decided not to ever ride Airtran, because that’s the carrier that I fly.

  100. exBaby says:

    If the descriptions of the Dad’s inaction to deal with his kids are accurate, then I support AirTran’s move. Perhaps there should be adults-only flights. Seriously. I’m sure they’d make money. However, since 9/11, flight attendants have been acting like NAZIS who freak and turn the plane around, force it to land, and boot people off for being too dark-skinned, for being children, for breast-feeding, for coughing, for hiccupping… Where does it end? They all act like they’ve been deputized air marshals. Just get back to “coffee, tea or…” already.

    Newsflash: Benadryl and other antihistamines can and do often cause the opposite effect and make kids MORE hyper and agitated, so they’re no panacea. God forbid you have a difficult child and need to travel long distance. I for one do not let my kids run rampant and do firmly believe in discipline. But sometimes they can be just inconsolable, especially as infants and toddlers. Oh, but if you try to soothe them by breastfeeding in public… Can’t do that either. Sometimes I think some people expect you to smother the kid with a pillow – probably the same people whose parents should have smothered THEM with a pillow when they were horrible selfish rug rats.

    We once had a terrible flight with our inconsolable 20 month old coming back from vacation in the Caribbean. Even all the “experts” who offered help on the flight couldn’t get him to stop. Sometimes kids cry because they’re sick, or because the air pressure hurts their ears. We were so traumatized ourselves we decided to drive from IL to FL to go to Disney for our next vacation.

    For you self-righteous heartless self-centered bigots out there, wait until they come for YOU. Maybe it’ll be your offensive perfume, your body odor, your loud shirt, your obnoxious laugh, or just your plain ugly mug that will get YOU kicked off your next flight. Bad enough they take away the food, don’t let you bring your own drinks so you have to pay a ransom past the security check if you’re thirsty, and completely dehumanize you at security before they cram you on their over-booked, over-priced sardine cans. Then they have the audacity to kick you off after taking your money for your seat(s) and cause you to incur more cost and inconvenience! Whatever happened to the airlines being part of the SERVICE industry?

  101. sbaley says:

    Those who are quick to speak against the parents of small children travelling on airplanes obviously do not have children of their own. And comments like, “Teach your little monkey how to behave in public or kennel it” are way out of line. And any parent who suggests swatting their child when they misbehave on an airplane is out of line as well.