Monday, November 2, 2009

Flying the "Not So Friendly" Skies

Southwest Airlines has apologized to Pamela Root for kicking her and toddler son Adam off a plane bound from Amarillo, Texas to San Jose, California last week. The problem began when the three year old started screaming "Go Plane Go!" and "I Want Daddy," while waiting for take off. When the child didn't calm down, the pilot taxied back up the runway, and the mother and child were removed from the flight. The 38-year old woman was livid over the incident saying she was stuck in Texas while her luggage went on to California where her angry husband was waiting. She had to buy a portable crib and diapers and was forced to spend another night at her parents house where she had been visiting. Root said she was confident that had the plane taken off, her son would have quieted down, and she demanded that Southwest compensate her for her ticket and things she had to buy, once back on Texas soil. In addition to apologizing, Southwest has refunded Root's ticket money and has given her a $300 voucher for another trip.

What do you think? Too much, or "Way To Go" Southwest? Kicking a woman and child off of an airplane is harsh, but one wonders why the mother didn't do more to calm the boy down once the situation began to escalate. The Oakland Tribune reports that Root said she planned to feed Adam once the plane took off, and while she knew that would make him cranky, she thought it would allow him to stay asleep longer, making things better for everyone in the long run. Perhaps when the child began his tantrum, Root should have scrapped that idea and moved quickly on to plan B.

Most people understand that babies and small children may not be the best travelers, and most are willing to tolerate a certain amount of crying and acting up on the part of said child. If a toddler goes into a screaming tantrum however, it's the responsibility of the parent to get the situation quickly under control. People are trying to work or rest on airplanes and no one wants to listen to an out of control kid for a couple of hours. The screaming child can also become a distraction for the flight crew as they try to provide safety instructions and service to other passengers.

As someone who loves kids, I think Southwest did go too far in kicking the mother and toddler off the plane. But, many parents, especially younger ones,seem to expect everyone else to suffer because they have a problem disciplining their child. I like many, have been inconvenienced and annoyed as I've sat on airplanes, in plays, meetings, church groups, etc. while a parent shrugs off a misbehaving toddler's disruption of the event as nothing more than a minor problem. Often, there is no attempt to correct the situation, and everyone has to sit idly by while it plays itself out. It often makes me think of my own childhood and the swat on the rear end I would have gotten had I have made such a spectacle of myself. Many parents seem to forget that they are responsible for getting their child under control, and if they can't do that, then perhaps they should not put the child into a situation where they will become that upset.

While Southwest did the right thing in apologizing to Ms. Root, she needs to remember that not everyone finds little Adam to be as precious as she does. Hopefully, she'll realize that tolerating a cranky baby for a few minutes is much different than expecting people to keep quiet while the baby has a melt down in Aisle 2. Perhaps in the future, she should consider driving back and forth to Texas, at least until Adam gets older and is easier to tolerate. While I'm sure everyone on the Southwest flight with the Roots would agree, I don't imagine the family will be taking my suggestion any time soon. If little Adam got so out of control that he had to be removed from the airplane, can you imagine what he'd be like trapped for several hours in the car? Maybe the solution for Adam is a nanny, so next time he can avoid the trip altogether and just stay home.

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