Monday, June 4, 2012

3 Year Old Asked Kicked Off Airplane For Refusing To Wear Seatbelt

Did you guys see the recent story about a 3 year old boy who was booted off of an Alaskan Airlines plane for refusing to wear his seat belt?

The Daily News reported that the child's father had been asked a few times to fasten his son's seat belt but the boy was fussy, didn't want to wear it and wanted to be closer to his father during take-off.  After several attempts by the flight staff  to convince the father to buckle the boy up, the pilot taxied the plane back to the airport and the family was asked to get off of the plane.

In an interview, the mother said they were treated like "criminals" and the dad said his family's plane exit was "embarrassing." Undoubtedly it was.

When our kids were younger, my husband and I avoided plane rides like the plague.  This was because:

A. We have three kids which means we are grossly  outnumbered.
B. We know our children and while they are good kids, 2 and 3 year olds do have a propensity towards being unpredictable and mind numbingly difficult.  That was something we just really didn't want to have to deal with.  We didn't want to put ourselves or anyone else in that situation.

Still, it's not realistic to completely avoid air travel when you have little kids.  Situations arise when you simply must travel.  When my mom died we flew from Connecticut to Colorado for her funeral.  We tried our best to plan well, fly during times when the kids would be well rested and fed. Our trip out was fine.  The older kids (ages 5 and 3 at the time) sat nicely and watched a movie. We brought many snacks and they had fun with the novelty of the whole thing.

But the trip home was the stuff of nightmares.  The airline delayed our flight by 8 hours which meant that we sat in the airport for nearly 9 1/2 hours waiting and trying desperately to keep three kids under the age of 6, occupied.  They were exhausted and hungry, uncomfortable and cranky.

They all caught a stomach bug and shortly after we boarded the plane, all three of them were vomiting. Because of federal safety restrictions, they wouldn't allow me to bring milk on the plane and they only had 2 small cartons of milk for a 6 hour flight.  Our youngest (1 at the time) was desperate for her milk.  She cried for nearly 5 hours straight. The other two cried too and rarely were in their seats because they were always in the lavatory, trying to vomit out their livers.

I felt terrible for the kids, for ourselves and for everyone else on the plane.  It was a miserable situation to be had by all. We had no choice but to fly on that trip.  I couldn't skip my mother's funeral and we needed to get there in a timely fashion but after that horrific experience,  we decided to never (barring emergencies) fly again with the kids.  Its a lot of work to fly with kids and we didn't want to take the chance that they'd get sick or be unable to make the trip.  For our family, it worked best to wait until we knew they could handle being on a plane.

There's no question as to whether safety rules should be followed.  Kids should remain seated, wearing their seat belts and be properly behaved (within reason).  It is the parents responsibility to set an example and make sure the kids follow all of the rules.   If the parents cannot do so, it makes sense that an airline would have no other choice but to ask them to de-board the plane.

Honestly, I think it depends on your kids.  If you have extremely easy going, can sleep anywhere, always follow the rules and never throw a temper tantrum kind of kids, first of all you have been blessed in spades and second of all, by all means, book your ticket because flying with them will be a joy.

But if your kids still need a nap, have trouble sleeping outside of their beds, don't like to be restricted for large chunks of time and can be unpredictable, think again.  Short flights aren't bad.  Most kids can be entertained for an hour or two but those long flights?

Think twice and if you decide to fly anyway, vaya con dios!

What do you think? Do you think that parents should be responsible for making their children behave and follow safety restrictions on a plane? Do you think the airline did the right thing in booting this family?

1 comment:

  1. Flying with kids is one of the suckiest things in the world. Probably THE suckiest. But sometimes it's unavoidable. We've adopted from China three times and the last time, we had all three kids with us on the 13 hour flight home. Nightmare. If you want a good laugh, you can read about it here:
    The airline should just let the kid go without the seat belt. Kids under two don't wear them anyway. Seems ridiculous to waste all that time, gas, energy, and embarrassment to turn around. Did it really make a difference?


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