Toddler Gets Kicked off Jet Blue for Tantrum

Has anyone seen the News about the toddler who got kicked off an airplane for having a tantrum? Apparently, the family had a two year old girl who wouldn’t sit in her seat while getting ready for takeoff. She had what all of us parents know as a classic meltdown. However, by the time her parents finally got her settled down and strapped in, the pilot was asking them to leave. They had no choice but to get off the plane. It cost them two thousand dollars. The parents are furious.

I’m willing to bet they are a bit mortified too. At least, I hope they are a little bit embarrassed. I’m always completely red-faced whenever Gus throws one of his. I’ve described them previously as being like demonic possession. He can kick, scream, and froth with the best of them. There have been numerous times when no matter what I did, I wasn’t able to get him to stop. I just had to wait it out until he returned to sanity or throw him kicking and screaming over my shoulder to force him to do what I wanted him to do.

But, you can’t really do this on a plane. I’ve been on numerous flights with Gus and I have complete empathy for the parents. Thank God Gus has never decided to completely go to pieces while we were on board. I know I’d employ all of my best tactics and strategies, but as any of us know, sometimes these are to no avail. How would I feel if something like this happened to us?

Gus has a list of rules. We post them in the dining room. Note the first rule: No throwing fits. It’s number one because he throws them ALL the time. Notice next to the rules that we have a list of consequences. Does this system change his tantrum behavior? Sometimes. Sometimes not.

Sometimes I just have to let natural consequences happen. I’m a huge believer in natural consequences. Both for myself and for my son. Now, I wouldn’t consider getting kicked off the plan a natural consequence for Gus. I’m actually pretty sure Gus would be smiling as we got kicked off because his tantrum had allowed him to be able to get off the plane and not wear his seatbelt.  He’d be chalking up one point on his side of the power struggle. However, I would consider it my own natural consequence for being unable to settle him down and sit appropriately. It’s a pretty expensive consequence and I can guarantee I’d be examining where I needed to change to handle things differently next time.

It turns out this is not the first time kids have been kicked off planes for not being able to behave.  This isn’t an isolated incident. I think it points again in the direction of the troubling parenting practices besetting our generation of parents. I predict we see more and more instances like this one. I spend lots of time talking about that here. I want to make it clear that I am not saying I am immune from this. If you follow me, you know I freely admit my imperfect parenting practices. Also, there was an incident where a child with special needs got asked to leave a flight. This is a completely different scenario.

I could go on and on about this one. I probably will again. It’s a pretty divided camp about the issue. Some parents are jumping in to provide support to the parents of the toddler. Others are placing their support in the hands of the airline.  What do you think? Where do you stand on this?

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23 Responses to Toddler Gets Kicked off Jet Blue for Tantrum

  1. Diane says:

    Any parent of a child who has thrown a tantrum can sympathize with the parents…but from a liability standpoint, I can see the airlines point of view. If something happend to the child in-flight they’d probably get sued! I guess you could physically restrain the kid but if they continued to throw a tantrum and wail the whole time, imagine what a miserable flight that’d be for everyone on the plane. I’m glad I never had to air travel with a very young child!

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      I have to admit that I understand why the airline did it. I have had to air travel and I absolutely hate when Gus is the only kid on the plane. I’m always glad when there are others because I know they will be making noise too.

  2. Rap541 says:

    I stand with the airline on this. I’m troubled by how the story of the parents in this particular situation is “woe is us, we just wanted some *humanity*!” when the origanal story has the parents describing the situation as the two of them strapping the kid in and holding her with all of their might. Now that people aren’t sympathizing with them, suddenly the child was all settled in and the big meanie airline is being unreasonable. Yes, two is a tough age, and I am not unsympathetic to these parents but I keep looking at that description – this is an actual quote – ““We were holding them down with all of our might, seat belt on. And I said, ‘We have them seated. Can we go now?’ ”

    That tells me it took more than five minutes for the two parents to get the child in the seat. It also tells me that if there was any sort of emergency, the parents would have an equally difficult time getting the child back in the seat safely buckled. Likewise when it came time to land. If two people have to hold a toddler down (or toddlers) in order to keep her in her seat, then the pilot made the absolutely right decision.

    And thats all long before I note how miserable a flight from the Turks and Caicos to New York would be with these two parents as seen on the Today show holding their screaming tantrum kids down in their seats for the entire flight.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      I do too. And not because I don’t empathize with the parents. But we have to be accountable for our kids behavior. Also, if you watch the clip and see the kids’ behavior during the interview, it becomes clear why there might have been some difficulties.

  3. Jackie says:

    People are sick and tired of children in our society, getting away with whatever they want. The parents act like children when they are held with the responsibility for their children these days, because they feel they’re entitled to be understood, just because they’ve had a child. So, people have started having to discipline the parents like the children they behave like.

  4. I think it needs to be a case-by-case basis, and I don’t know all the specifics of this particular case. I do remember flying my then 2-year-old back from Orlando to Michigan and she absolutely LOST it when we got ready to land and she had to 1) stay in her seat and 2) wear her seatbelt. She just wanted me to hold her, but that was against the FAA rules. So she cried and screamed my name for the 20 minutes it took to land while sitting in her seat. Which meant I sat there crying for 20 minutes because I could not make her be quiet–she didn’t want a snack, she didn’t want a toy–she was 2 and wanted her mama to hold her. It was awful. Now I’m glad it happened during landing, not take-off, or perhaps we would have gotten tossed off!

    The interesting thing is that I did not give in to her tantrum (well, I couldn’t due to FAA rules) yet I bet every single passenger was not sitting there thinking I was a good mom for not giving in, rather they were sitting there thinking I should make their trip easier and get her to be quiet. How ’bout that?

  5. Rach says:

    Many thoughts come to mind here. First, when I became a parent, I realized I had to put the best interests of my child and those around me BEFORE my desires. Meaning, if my child is throwing a fit in a restaurant, I’m going to remove my child. Does that mean I’ll miss out on my meal? Yup. The same applies to going to fun events and such. I am prepared to sacrifice my fun in order to make sure my child learns they need to find other ways to express their displeasure. I think too may parents aren’t willing to make those sacrifices–not that I think that necessarily is the case here. (Although, I’m siding with the airline on this one.)

    The second thought is this article from NPR. I’ve been blessed to have two children who weren’t much in the way of public tantrum-throwers–thank god. The third one, though, is wide open. They’re embarrassing and humiliating and I try to remove us from the situation as quickly as possible. But, I keep going back to that NPR piece and have found–at home at least–if we follow the advice and don’t interact with Miss Bean, the tantrum works itself out far quicker.

    Parenting is NOT for the faint of heart.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Rach! Love the article. I have found that it is so much easier to control the tantrums when I’m at home, too. I wonder if it is because at home I am a bit calmer and not so hyperfocused on it like I am when we are out in the world. It’s hard to be calm when he’s writhing on the floor in the check-out aisle at Target and all eyes are on me.

  6. Amber says:

    My daughter has thrown some AWFUL fits before. Not on a plane yet, thank goodness. I usually distract her with new toys when we fly. It helps. And if it doesn’t work I have the DVD player.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      I was go glad when Gus was old enough to really be interested in watching a movie. It was an absolute lifesaver on the plane!

  7. Angela says:

    Honestly I don’t know enough about the specifics of this situation to say what was the right call. As a geriatric nurse however I’ve had the many opportunities to discuss generational parenting with my patients and have come to the following conclusions regarding then and now parenting (I apologize in advance for a lengthy response):
    1. The harrumphers who insist that their generation were superior parents with model children may be the most vocal but they are also the minority. Most of my patients freely acknowledge that parenting was difficult for them and that they struggled with many of the same issues. They also report being similarly harassed by previous generations (as were their parents and grandparents) about their new-fangled parenting.
    2. While more was expected from older children in years past babies and young toddlers behave much the same today as they always have. Most of our grandparents however would never have attempted to take a 2 year old out to a restaurant let alone a transcontinental flight so obviously public meltdowns are much more commonplace in our society.
    3. Regulations were much less rigid for families who did travel with youngsters. Seat belts were not mandatory and passengers were not packed into planes like sardines. Children had much more freedom to move around (or be held by their parents) and were not subjected to long security lines, pat downs and other hassles before even boarding the plane. I’m not saying that there aren’t reasons for some of the increased restrictions but it makes it an apples/oranges comparison where young kids are concerned.
    4. Parents weren’t expected to singlehandedly fulfill their obligation. Kids could roam freely because their neighbors helped look out for them. Yesterday’s bystander’s were a lot more likely to jump in and assist a struggling parent.
    5. Spanking. It’s taboo now but it was the go-to source of discipline for nearly every parent in generations past. Whether or not you agree the toddler in question would almost certainly have been spanked (or at least threatened with it) by our parents and grandparents and many of them still swear by its effectiveness.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for your comments, Angela. I think you are right on target identifying the different factors. I especially like how you pointed out that in the past, families didn’t take their toddlers out nearly as much. I am one of three and I know my parents wouldn’t have even attempted it when we were that young. I’d love to address the spanking issue, but I will save that for a separate post. It would be much to lengthy for me to do here.

    • Rap541 says:

      Sorry, but I’ve hadmy head bitten off one too many times to my services with assisting a parent with their child. I’m told I am NOT family and should mind my own business and how dare I suggest they need help etc etc etc. Ysterday’s bystanders weren’t treated like possible molesters and interlopers. The reason so many people are frustrated is because if you’re not a parent, you need to shut your mouth and accept whatever someone’s child is doing. If you offer assistance or advice, you’re wrong. If, god forbid, you complain, you hate children, are a grump, and are selfishly concerned with nothing but your own needs.

      If you don’t suffer in silence, you’re a jerk with no heart who can’t and intentionally won’t be understanding. It’s frustrating, especially when parents like these two put themselves up on the cross. Raise of hands, who wants to sit next to the two toddlers tantruming as their parents hold them down with all their might?

      • Mommy Psychologist says:

        Thanks for your comments! I think this is the first non-parent we’ve had provide their opinion on this situation. I really appreciate your perspective and even though I have a child, I saw the video of the two little girls and I would NOT be signing up to sit next to them either.

        • Rap541 says:

          No problem – and I apologize if I came off heated in my response. It’s just such a catch 22 situation. People get really offended when non parents comment or make suggestions but we non parents are also on the hook for needing to step and assist parents (all the while aquisecing to whatever the parent wants) because it takes a village. That’s frustrating.

          I don’t hate children, but it is frustrating to see the suggestion of “why aren’t people being good neighbors and helping??” when people are so litigious and defensive about their kids. And to be fair, I am sure there are some parents out there that would be grateful for help from a friendly stranger but there’s also the parents who get offended and treat you like trash for interfering.

          The reality is that most of us without children or not traveling or dining out with children are pretty understanding if a parent is *trying*. I get that a plane situation is well, being locked in a box. On the other hand, these days its several hundred bucks to fly now and I shouldn’t have to suffer because some people think their having children trumps everything. These two parents strike me as the permissive sort and thats all well and good for them, but yes, two and three are ages where you might want to reconsider how well your kids will handle a transatlantic flight *without* dosing them with some Nyquil.

  8. Terri says:

    I have had to travel a lot in my work and as someone who is self-employed, that meant traveling with a toddler often but I had the good sense not to choose to put an infant or toddler on a plane. Likewise, no taking infants/toddlers to fine dining places or other places where adults have paid for the peace and quiet. Some of these people don’t understand that you can’t talk a toddler into being quiet and riding on a plane can cause physical discomfort for the child. That is why you should avoid flying with them. Parents of older kids need to get them under control or be booted off a flight and not allowed to bring them on any other flight. If I pay a lot to travel, I do not expect to listen to screaming or put up with someone’s bratty older kid for hours and be trapped there where I can’t get away.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Terri. I really don’t think we are too far away from family sections of planes. Maybe this would help both sides be a bit happier.

      • Erin says:

        I have two children that travel well, I like to think an equal result of temperament and discipline, but I personally would hate the idea of a family section on the plane. I’ve had beautiful experiences watching my kiddos interact with neighbors on flights or watching them captivate the attention of dozens of travelers as we play an active game while waiting at a gate and then cuddling them to read/down to sleep while on the flight. I can imagine so many ways that that would be too different if I needed to sit with other families who do not or are not able to prepare their children for similar experiences while flying.

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