Friday, October 30, 2009

Flying With An Infant: Or NOT When You Fly Southwest

San Jose mom and 2 year old kicked off Southwest flight

You read the headline correctly.  Southwest kicked a woman and her son off a flight before takeoff due to a little yelling.  Some of you may be cheering the crew, and I'm sure some of the passengers on that flight cheered too, but I am infuriated.  Southwest should give this woman and her child free flights for life.  It's hard enough to fly with a child without getting dirty looks from passengers and feeling horribly guilty.  But to be kicked off a flight for a little yelling is absurd.  The airline industry has its issues, but booting families from flights doesn’t seem to be the answer.

We've flown to San Diego (3 months), New Jersey (5 months) and Baltimore (7 months) with Henry, and had mixed results.  When he was 3 months old it was relatively easy.  I nursed him at take off and landing.  Although it was a long flight, we got through it by passing him back and forth.  He napped intermittently.  He was an angel apart from the mid-flight fussiness that lasted 30 seconds.  Of course, even with his amazing demeanor we still got a dirty look from a middle-aged man sitting behind us.

At 5 months, on our return flight from NJ I flew alone with Henry, which was more difficult.  There was a large man in the seat next to us, and nursing was difficult to do without Henry's toes touching the man.  He was kind and refrained from giving us any dirty looks.  The flight was a success and I was relieved when we landed.

At 7 months, Henry was getting more mobile and antsy.  It was hard to keep him occupied, so I nursed him almost the entire flight.  He fell in and out of sleep, and by landing I was out of milk.  He screamed the entire descent.  Chris wanted to help, but there wasn’t much he could do.  The flight attendant kept asking me to nurse him, and all I could do was tell her I was trying.  The grandmothers and mothers around me were glaring at me as if to say, “If I were you, I’d be doing …”  I avoided eye contact with everyone knowing that I would probably burst into tears.  The second we hit the tarmac the flight attendant sighed on the intercom "We made it."  At first I felt horrible for the passengers, but after some thought, I felt horrible for Henry.  He was in pain and didn’t know why.  It made me angry that people couldn’t understand.  Next time I know to give him water if I run out of milk.

Now that he is crawling, we might have to show him movies on my iPhone or iPod, or bring lots of toys and books on the plane with us.  Although, if our next flight is on Southwest they may not allow us to board.  Perhaps it’s time to start mapping out our next road trip.

1 comment:

  1. The mother and child who got kicked off that flight for "a little yelling" was actually an autistic child who could not be controlled and refused to be put into a seat with a normal airline seatbelt.

    The flight crew tried for over 20 minutes, but were forced by FAA regulations to kick the mother and child off the flight as the child was required to be restrained during takeoff.

    The flight crew did exactly as required by FAA regulations and should not apologize for their actions since they refused to put the child at risk.

    A Mother