Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Airline doesn't permit free range children -- and that's a problem?

Meet the Kulesza family: Julie, Gerry and three year old Elly.

They got on an airplane in Florida 10 days ago -- on Sunday, January 14 -- expecting to fly to their home in Boston.

Before any plane can take off, all passengers must be seated in their own seats with seat belts fastened. But Elly didn't want to sit in her seat. According to the AP story reported in this morning's Chicago Tribune, Elly "was climbing under the seat and hitting the parents and wouldn't get in her seat." An ABC News story reports that Elly had behaved well on the flight to Florida -- but when she got on the airplane to go home Elly "began to cry uncontrollably... throwing a temper tantrum on the floor."

The parents couldn't (or wouldn't) get the child under control and eventually, the plane already having been delayed 15 minutes by the hysterical toddler, the crew decided to remove the family.

They got kicked off the plane.

Now any parent can recall a time when his or her child has misbehaved in public. We can all sympathize with the parents, who surely must be mortified at their daughter's terrible behavior -- oh, wait, never mind.

This story is in the news today because the parents are angry. At the airline! Even though AirTran Airways flew the family home the next day. Even though they reimbursed the family for the cost of the tickets they bought on the flight they didn't take because of Elly's behavior. Even though they were even offered free round trip tickets to anywhere AirTran flies.

No! The airline is at fault because, quoting Julie Kluesza in the AP story, "We weren't given an opportunity to hold her, console her or anything."

In unrelated news, Democrat Sally Lieber of San Francisco, a California legislator recently proposed a law in that State that would outlaw the spanking of any child "three years old or younger and carry a possible penalty of jail time or a 1,000-dollar fine." The AFP story reported January 19 on Yahoo! News quotes the sponsor of the proposed legislation as saying the law would be written to ban "any striking of a child, any corporal punishment, smacking, hitting, punching, any of that."

Or are these stories unrelated?

The Kuleszas could not have had Rep. Lieber's anti-spanking legislation in mind on January 14 as they let their child block the aisle in the airplane, waiting for her tantrum to blow over. But one can not help but speculate that the child was not brought under control because little, if any, effort was made to bring her under control. (In my view, pleas like, "Now Elly, Elly, this isn't the right way to behave, dear..." do not count as a legitimate effort.)

Now not even I would punch a three year old child. (Do I really have to offer that disclaimer?) But wouldn't you think Mom or Dad would have hoisted the child by scruff of her neck, plopped her in her seat and gotten in her face and told her to behave herself? (I might assured her that it was a very long walk from Florida to Boston, but I'm an old grouch.)

The Kuleszas said that unlike the AirTran crew, the passengers on the flight were sympathetic to their situation.

The Kulesza say that their fellow passengers seemed sympathetic. From the ABC News story:
"I jokingly turned around and asked the three gentlemen behind me, 'Aren't you glad you got these seats?" Julie said. "Another passenger offered up a lollipop to try and calm her down."
I can only imagine what kind of medication had been spread on the lollipop before it was tendered.

And it's possible that the Kuleszas might have gotten some dirty looks or sniffs or harrumphs from their fellow passengers if they had acted like parents and made their child behave. I might have cheered and cringed at the same time: No one would want to have to discipline their child in public like that and -- at that time -- before the Kuleszas made their media rounds, I would have felt sorry for them.

But is that what parenting has come to these days? Spanking is a crime and demanding that you control your child offensive? Am I that far out of touch already?

I'll hang up and wait for your answers.


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

well curmy, if were me, i think i would have paid the $1000 fine and slapped her one. and parents? is that what they are? what kind of lesson will she learn? you are bad and i can get something for nothing. right. sigh.... bee

Fruitcake said...

My dad would have picked me up, put me in the seat, and probably pulled a switch out of his carry-on bag.
Did it harm me? Not in the long run. But I knew better than to throw a fit in public for not getting my way.

It's sad when parents can't even discipline their children. Or are afraid to.

Me personally? The airline did the right thing. Tough cookies. Can't control your kid? Get off the plane.

susan said...

Yikes. I hate to think of what the repercussions would have been if any one had seen me holding my son's feet to stop the shiatsu massage he was intent on giving the lady in the seat in front of us on our flight back to Philly. At what point do we get to draw the line between child advocacy and butting in?

Anonymous said...

OK people, coming from a flight attendant... most of the news venues are getting it wrong. This toddler was not kicked off for crying. Just like every other passenger over the age of 3 would be removed for not complying with FAA regulations, unfortunately the parents could not get her to stay in her seat and fasten her seatbelt. Unfortunately, they did not travel with an approved child seat with restraint which in my experience is much more highly effective in controlling unruly toddlers at the appropriate times. Please read FAR 121.311 which every passenger carrying airline must abide by. Any flight crew should have done the same thing because it is federal law:

Sec. 121.311

Seats, safety belts, and shoulder harnesses.

(a) No person may operate an airplane unless there are available during the takeoff, en route flight, and landing--
(1) An approved seat or berth for each person on board the airplane who has reached his second birthday; and
(2) An approved safety belt for separate use by each person on board the airplane who has reached his second birthday, except that two persons occupying a berth may share one approved safety belt and two persons occupying a multiple lounge or divan seat may share one approved safety belt during en route flight only.
(b) Except as provided in this paragraph, each person on board an airplane operated under this part shall occupy an approved seat or berth with a separate safety belt properly secured about him or her during movement on the surface, takeoff, and landing. A safety belt provided for the occupant of a seat may not be used by more than one person who has reached his or her second birthday. Notwithstanding the preceding requirements, a child may:
(1) Be held by an adult who is occupying an approved seat or berth, provided the child has not reached his or her second birthday and the child does not occupy or use any restraining device; or
(2) Notwithstanding any other requirement of this chapter, occupy an approved child restraint system furnished by the certificate holder or one of the persons described in paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section, provided:
(i) The child is accompanied by a parent, guardian, or attendant designated by the child's parent or guardian to attend to the safety of the child during the flight;
(ii) Except as provided in paragraph (b)(2)(ii)(D) of this section, the approved child restraint system bears one or more labels as follows:
(A) Seats manufactured to U.S. standards between January 1, 1981, and February 25, 1985, must bear the label: "This child restraint system conforms to all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards."
(B) Seats manufactured to U.S. standards on or after February 26, 1985, must bear two labels:
(1) "This child restraint system conforms to all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards"; and
red lettering;
(C) Seats that do not qualify under paragraphs (b)(2)(ii)(A) and (b)(2)(ii)(B) of this section must bear either a label showing approval of a foreign government or a label showing that the seat was manufactured under the standards of the United Nations;
(D) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, booster-type child restraint systems (as defined in Federal Motor Vehicle Standard No. 213 (49 CFR 571.213)), vest- and harness-type child restraint systems, and lap held child restraints are not approved for use in aircraft; and
(iii) The certificate holder complies with the following requirements:
(A) The restraint system must be properly secured to an approved forward-facing seat or berth;
(B) The child must be properly secured in the restraint system and must not exceed the specified weight limit for the restraint system; and
(C) The restraint system must bear the appropriate label(s).
(c) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(3) of this section, the following prohibitions apply to certificate holders:
(1) No certificate holder may permit a child, in an aircraft, to occupy a booster-type child restraint system, a vest-type child restraint system, a harness-type child restraint system, or a lap held child restraint system during take off, landing, and movement on the surface.
(2) Except as required in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, no certificate holder may prohibit a child, if requested by the child's parent, guardian, or designated attendant, from occupying a child restraint system furnished by the child's parent, guardian, or designated attendant provided--
(i) The child holds a ticket for an approved seat or berth or such seat or berth is otherwise made available by the certificate holder for the child's use;
(ii) The requirements of paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section are met;
(iii) The requirements of paragraph (b)(2)(iii) of this section are met; and
(iv) The child restraint system has one or more of the labels described in paragraphs (b)(2)(ii)(A) through (b)(2)(ii)(C) of this section.
(3) This section does not prohibit the certificate holder from providing child restraint systems authorized by this section or, consistent with safe operating practices, determining the most appropriate passenger seat location for the child restraint system.
(d) Each sideward facing seat must comply with the applicable requirements of Sec. 25.785(c) of this chapter.
(e) Except as provided in paragraphs (e)(1) through (e)(3) of this section, no certificate holder may take off or land an airplane unless each passenger seat back is in the upright position. Each passenger shall comply with instructions given by a crewmember in compliance with this paragraph.
(1) This paragraph does not apply to seat backs placed in other than the upright position in compliance with Sec. 121.310(f)(3).
(2) This paragraph does not apply to seats on which cargo or persons who are unable to sit erect for a medical reason are carried in accordance with procedures in the certificate holder's manual if the seat back does not obstruct any passenger's access to the aisle or to any emergency exit.
(3) On airplanes with no flight attendant, the certificate holder may take off or land as long as the flightcrew instructs each passenger to place his or her seat back in the upright position for takeoff and landing.
(f) No person may operate a transport category airplane that was type certificated after January 1, 1958, or a nontransport category airplane manufactured after March 20, 1997, unless it is equipped at each flight deck station with a combined safety belt and shoulder harness that meets the applicable requirements specified in Sec. 25.785 of this chapter, effective March 6, 1980, except that--
(1) Shoulder harnesses and combined safety belt and shoulder harnesses that were approved and installed before March 6, 1980, may continue to be used; and
(2) Safety belt and shoulder harness restraint systems may be designed to the inertia load factors established under the certification basis of the airplane.
(g) Each flight attendant must have a seat for takeoff and landing in the passenger compartment that meets the requirements of Sec. 25.785 of this chapter, effective March 6, 1980, except that--
(1) Combined safety belt and shoulder harnesses that were approved and installed before March, 6, 1980, may continue to be used; and
(2) Safety belt and shoulder harness restraint systems may be designed to the inertia load factors established under the certification basis of the airplane.
(3) The requirements of Sec. 25.785(h) do not apply to passenger seats occupied by flight attendants not required by Sec. 121.391.
(h) Each occupant of a seat equipped with a shoulder harness or with a combined safety belt and shoulder harness must have the shoulder harness or combined safety belt and shoulder harness properly secured about that occupant during takeoff and landing, except that a shoulder harness that is not combined with a safety belt may be unfastened if the occupant cannot perform the required duties with the shoulder harness fastened.
(i) At each unoccupied seat, the safety belt and shoulder harness, if installed, must be secured so as not to interfere with crewmembers in the performance of their duties or with the rapid egress of occupants in an emergency.
[(j) After October 27, 2009, no person may operate a transport category airplane type certificated after January 1, 1958 and manufactured on or after October 27, 2009 in passenger-carrying operations under this part unless all passenger and flight attendant seats on the airplane meet the requirements of Sec. 25.562 in effect on or after June 16, 1988.]

Amdt. 121-315, Eff. 10/27/05

susan said...

Er, just to be clear, I think that the folks at AirTran Airways did the right thing. Should of said that in the previous comment. At some point parents have to parent. But it's getting harder and harder to do that what with all the looking over of ones shoulder to make sure that ones attempts to parent aren't being scrutinized and dramatized.

Back to my quiet corner, now... :)

Claire said...

Greetings Bambi and Thumper!!lol! I am amused!
'we are not amused' is correct and that is your right!
Also 'Cheeky' is a term for what i did.
Does this mean legally speaking you have commented on the boobie post?
As for this post i am with E'bee all the way! The airline was right to chuck them off.

Claire aka The Blind Melons!!!
Still amused!

Barb said...

Those parents had nothing to complain about (The ones on the airplane).

Re: your comment about commenting.. Claire did one for you at My Boobies' Names

Claire said...

He has read it and commented! but sneakily on my blog!lol!

still amused!

fat gardner said...

Reading your blog for the
first time today, I wondered where you got the
name curmudgeon. Perhaps
you read The Cat and the
Curmudgeon? If you are as
clever as Cleveland Avery, you
made the right choice

Amazing Gracie said...

I remember having to go pick my own switch! That always hurt more...Anyone who cannot make a three-year old behave is in for a rude awakening when they reach 13!

Heather said...

I think the airline did the right thing too and I would have been too mortified over my child's behavior to complain in the national media!

Anonymous said...

I guess the airline had its hands tied, staying grounded costs a fortune. This is such an interesting story that I shall link up with it tomorrow, thanks for highlighting it.

Mother Jones RN said...

We will be seeing that kid one day on a psych unit with "conduct disorder." (Eye roll). I'm with Miss Bee. Slap the kid, pay the fine, and be done with it. It's clear who is wearing the pants, or should I say, the diapers in that family.


Anonymous said...

The First Immutable Law of Parenting: Just because you are physically able to have children doesn't mean you should.

Anonymous said...

The Kuleszas are clear winners for the Worst Parents of the Year!