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Screaming Brat And Parents Thrown Off AirTran
It's tantrum time!


Dianne Williamson writes in the Worcester Telegram of a 3-year-old eating Cheetos at the airport and watching the planes take off and land...

Then came…The Boarding. Suddenly and without warning, angelic little Elly morphed into every parents’ nightmare.

Her mom thinks it may have been because of the ear surgery Elly underwent earlier this month, and perhaps her memory of the discomfort and ear pressure she endured during the plane’s descent into Florida. For whatever reason, when they got on the plane, Elly started to cry and wouldn’t stop. Nor would she sit down — she plopped herself down on the floor in front of her seat and proceeded to throw a temper tantrum.

“I was trying to console her and the stewardess came over and said, ‘Did you buy that seat for her?’ remembers Ms. Kulesza, 31, who is four months pregnant. “I said yes, and she told me my daughter needs to sit in it. I told her I was trying.”

"Ms. Kulesza, who is four months pregnant..."? (Can't handle one? Have another!)

Right, I forgot, it was the earache. Or...insert other plausible excuse here.

Yeah, fuck the other passengers. WE WANNA GO TO FLORIDA, WE CAN'T (OR WON'T) LEAVE THE BRAT WITH A BABYSITTER, AND THAT'S ALL THAT COUNTS! SO THERE! ("Apple doesn't fall far from the tree" theory, anyone?)

I dunno about you, but kids in my family didn't throw tantrums. And no, we weren't beaten or anything. It. Just. Wasn't. Done.

Of course, we never went anywhere on a plane at an age when there was any chance we might disturb anybody. On my first flight (from Michigan to Florida), I was 12, and my youngest sister was 7.

But, back to our heartwarming little tale:

Moments later, an AirTran Airways employee armed with a walkie-talkie addressed Mr. Kulesza.

“Sir, you need to get her under control,” she said.

“We’re trying,” Mr. Kulesza noted.

The passengers, meanwhile, were quite understanding and one of them offered the toddler a lollipop, which she rejected.

Just a guess: The passengers weren't understanding; many simply acted understanding, because, in this, The Age Of Indulgence, it's somehow socially unacceptable to express irritation at the persistent ear-splitting screeches of somebody's little darling.

Then the walkie-talkie woman returned to the Kuleszas’ aisle and displayed the raw tact and diplomacy of Donald Trump.

“Sir, you need to get off the plane,” she announced.

Wow. I'm flying AirTran.

“What?” a stunned Mr. Kulesza asked. “Are you serious?”

“Sir, you need to get off the plane now.”

They got off the plane, while their luggage and car seat flew on to Boston. In the terminal they were directed to an AirTran supervisor, who told the couple that the stewardess was uncomfortable “because you have an unruly child who struck a woman on board.”

Mr. Kulesza was incredulous. “That was her mother,” he explained. “She hit her on the arm. Lady, this is a 3-year-old child we’re talking about.”

Yes, one who doesn't belong on the plane. What of the other passengers peace, quiet, and/or tendency toward migraines? Oh, right...if you brought your 3-year-old on, maybe you don't give a shit?

“Sir, we don’t differentiate between 3 and 33,” the AirTran supervisor replied. Mr. Kulesza said the woman proceeded to lecture him about child discipline, and how she would never tolerate her children behaving in such a manner, at which point Mr. Kulesza said, “You really need to stop talking now.”

No, Mr. Kulesza, you need to shut up and start listening.

The couple were also told that, since they had been ejected from the plane, they were banned from flying with AirTran for 24 hours. So they were forced to return to Bonita Springs for the night, and Mr. Kulesza missed a 16-hour work shift,

Oh, boo frigging hoo...

and the next day they returned to the airport and can surely be forgiven if they fed their daughter enough Children’s Benadryl to fell a stallion. I exaggerate, perhaps, but it’s certainly what I would have done.

And what they should've done to begin with when bringing a tantrum-throwing child on a plane. Surely, it wasn't the first time.

In any case, Elly slept through the return flight home.

The incident has sparked varied responses from those who heard the story. While many people — mostly parents — sympathize with the Kuleszas, others are less inclined. For example, when I related the tale to an unnamed colleague and asked if he had ever heard of an airline bouncing a child from a flight he said, “No, but I’m all for it. Couldn’t they have checked her with the baggage?”

This colleague, as it happens, has no kids.

Yes, and if this colleague and the other people on the plane wanted to spent hours straight amidst screaming children, they'd get jobs in nursery schools.

AirTran, meanwhile, has apparently had a change of heart.

So have I. Now, I'm not flying AirTran.

After the airline received a phone call Thursday from yours truly, an AirTran customer service rep called the Kuleszas, apologized profusely for the incident and refunded them the $595 cost of their tickets.

“We do believe the situation could have been handled differently,” said AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver.

Yes, the parents could've waited until the kid could fly without throwing a tantrum to indulge themselves in a Florida vacation.

Note that the columnist, as is typical to daily newspapers, which seem to prefer voiceless, opinionless writers to opinionated bitches like me, is careful never to actually express a point of view in this column. Note the irony -- a screen shot of the page the column appears on:


Yet...the airline "received a call" from her. Period. Not a call saying, "You go!" or "You meanies!" Just a call. And newspapers wonder why they can't attract "younger readers," or retain the readers of all ages they already have. Hire somebody with an opinion, huh?

Oh, might get angry letters. Well, then you'll know somebody's reading you instead of simply letting you pile up until they remember to call and cancel.

The lady writes like her hair.

thanks, Brian Mann

Posted by aalkon at January 23, 2007 1:04 PM


I remember the first flight I was on, I was 7 yrs old, my little sister was 5. We were quiet as mice, we were respectful to the flight attendants, I mean how hard is it - my parents didnt have half the shit people nowadays have to distract or medicate their kids with, what the hell happened?

Did eveyone grow up and think "my parents were idiots, I'll reason with my kids instead of disiplining them" ?
Do the moronic human factories ever stop to think that the reason they function in society is because of the way their parents raised them? And maybe they shouldnt just dismiss eveything they learned from their parents becuse some two bit shrink mange to get on to Oprah or some other daytime talk show.

Heres a clue you fucking morons - sucsessful people rarely have multiple apperances on montel or dr phil they are to busy with their careers to drop everything, sit in front of a camera, and spout 30 second sound bytes which wonderusly transform 12 yr old meth sluts in to born again virgins.

It is not that fucking hard to raise a kid, all you have to do is pay attention to them and punish them when they do something wrong - half the time the know they are doing something wrong just to see what they can get away with and get your attention.

When did swatting a kid become tantamount to narly beating them to death and taking away the remote control for the fisrt 12 hours of the five day you originally threatened them with become one of the most dire consequences your malfunctioning brain can come up with?

Ya know mabey if a few more kids were smacked around when they acted up you wouldnt see situations like colombine, maybe there wouldnt be a crack house down the block, maybe just maybe if people raise their children to act responsibly the would act like responsible people when they grow up, and not like some fucking new age paris hilton with less money but just as self centered.

I hate to say it but the responsiblity of the majority of these terror children lies with the mother. How many 'accidents' arent that accidental? I cant tell you how many time I have heard "if i get pregnant he'll have to marry me, come back to me, stay with me"

I got news for you if your relationship is circling the crapper adding a kid is only going to make things worse, and its a lot worse on the kid than either of the two self centered assholes who decide to use them as weapons once the inevitable happens.

I just dont understnd what is so fucking hard about teaching kids to act responsibly, a grade school teacher manages to keep 30 under control for 8 hours EVERY day, why cant you keep 1 or 2 or 3 under control for the few hours your out in public during the WEEK?

I cant wait for the male birth contol pill to come out, there will be alot less accidental or unwanted pregnacys once it does.

And that means less unruley children which will eventually lead to fewer idiotic adults as well.

Posted by: lujlp at January 23, 2007 1:50 AM

I think it is the height of lunacy for the parents to expect hundreds of people to endure the misbehavior, however "warranted", of their 3-year-old.

That being said:
If the airlines were less absurd about allowing people to change tickets, it wouldn't have been an issue, I'll bet.
It is completely nuts that I can book a flight NOW for an engagement in March, and then have to pay a monumental fine if plans change next week. You have have a catastrophic illness or death in the family, preferably your own, in order to change a ticket without paying a spctacular penalty, and even then you will have had to buy "insurance."
I say airline rules are a party to this kind of sad travel story.

Posted by: Deirdre B. at January 23, 2007 3:49 AM

A friend with dogs just e-mailed me about this post:

I agree with all. Love the cannon. Nice touch. ;-) If we can't fly with our "kids" in the cabin (and we can't once they're more than 12 inches high) we drive...or we kennel them. People should do the same with kids. Kennel 'em...or drive.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 23, 2007 6:00 AM

I wasn't on the plane, so I'll give Elly and her serfs the benefit of the doubt.

'“We do believe the situation could have been handled differently,” said AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver.' AirTran sucks. They should have trained their attendants to control the situation without embarrassing the passengers and having to hand out refunds.

I can only praise JetBlue. They let us preselect our seats on low-fare flights (AirTran's very rude phone zombie denied us that option) from NY to CA. The crew is exceptionally welcoming. They give you all the snacks and soft drinks you want. And hours of mind-numbing TV beat hours of mind-numbing nothing. Even more impressive was the gate agent who re-opened the door into the boarding tunnel for the late boarder who was delayed at the ticket counter. Yeah, she should have been on time - but the agent chose compassion over bureaucracy and probably won a lifetime customer. Even before we observed this episode while waiting to fly home, my wife and I vowed to always fly JB!

Posted by: Dave at January 23, 2007 6:59 AM

It is not that fucking hard to raise a kid,

And you have how many kids?

Sorry, but it is *damn fucking hard* to raise a kid, and that's why only people who really want kids should do it. I agree that having kids to save a relationship is a bad idea. But I also get really sick of people who have never changed a diaper or cleaned up vomit at 12, 2 and 4am, let alone babysat a niece or nephew for a couple of hours all alone talk about how "fucking easy" it is. Each kid is different and what worked for one may not work for another. No one gives you a manual and a lot of the time you're flying blind.

I grew up in the 50's and 60's when it was still OK to smack kids around and middle-class moms stayed home. Guess what, a lot of kids my age ended up on drugs or in jail or with STD's. And it was blamed on the mothers then too for being too strict and controlling.

That said, we do travel with our son, and our arsenal. We have books, snacks, the portable DVD player with headphones (which saved us last year when we were stuck on the tarmac in Pittsburgh for two hours waiting for a thunderstorm to pass). He likes to fly, and is well-behaved on the plane, but kids do get bored and need distractions. In the situation in the article above, I can understand why the crew might have asked the family to get off the plane, but I think it's unreasonable that they were not allowed to take another flight for 24 hours. I think obnoxious drunks shouldn't be allowed to fly either, and was glad to witness one occasion when a woman who was very drunk was forced to disembark.

Posted by: deja pseu at January 23, 2007 7:29 AM

It isn't just the kids who are brats, either. Gregg flew me back first class from other words, plenty of room in the section. I put my head down on my pillow thingie on the tray table and slept -- until the guy in front of me, in first class bulkhead (more leg room than anybody on the plane), slammed his seat back, cracking me on the head and scaring me awake. Hint, dude: If the airplane isn't empty (and this one was packed, they kept announcing), there might be somebody behind you. I'm just glad he cracked my head instead of my laptop screen...always a worry.

I don't recline my seat on a plane -- I consider it rude, considering the small amount of space people have in coach, and it's gross to have somebody's head essentially three inches from your nose in some of the less roomy planes. I wish, as long as we all have so little room in coach, the airlines would make the seats non-reclinable. And really, is it any more comfortable if you recline your seat, or just a lot more uncomfortable for the person behind you? And how can you not care and not think of yourself as an asshole?

On this flight, though, the guy behind me kept bumping my seat back, probably while thumping on his laptop. I asked him stop. Ridiculous that I had to. But, there's an incident where I was about to put my own seat back...of course, with warning for the person behind me. The asshole. Oh, of course, he was the guy who came and sat next to me, where I'd gone to escape all the cell phone shouters, and began bellowing into his phone.

One of these days, I'm going to track down the mother of one of these curs and ask if they were raised to behave this way.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 23, 2007 7:46 AM

It is not that fucking hard to raise a kid,

I have to agree. My kid was always well-behaved on flights and in restaurants because he knew there were (gasp!) consequences for bad behavior.

Posted by: Darry at January 23, 2007 7:56 AM

I am getting on a flight to New Orleans in 3 weeks with a soon to be 3 year old. Benedryl will be flowing. Deja psue is correct- raising a kid is the hardest thing I have ever done, because it is a 24 hour constant job. And anyone who says they never had a tamtrum as a child doesn't have a memory.

PS- Babysitters out here now ask for $7.50 to $9.00 an hour.

Posted by: eric at January 23, 2007 8:03 AM

We have 3 kids, fairly well-behaved, and we rarely travel by plane. The airline personel are indifferent (I paid money, too), passengers are so used to rude kids that they assume the worst of ours before they have done anything. I know to carry everthing with me, because if your kid gets sick, the flight attendents wouldn't have any paper towels to offer.

At the start of one flight, several people grumbled about sitting near us. We smiled our appologies and kept the kids quiet as we could. As the flight wore on, several people commented on how good they were. And one of my kids has autism. If we can, I still prefer to drive. Even if you have good kids, most people think it is OK to be rude to them and me just for existing.

Posted by: Ruth at January 23, 2007 8:04 AM

PS- Babysitters out here now ask for $7.50 to $9.00 an hour.

If you can't afford the time, don't do the crime!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 23, 2007 8:14 AM

We do just fine, thanks. If you'll remember, we're all (somewhat) innocent over here.

Posted by: eric at January 23, 2007 8:24 AM

"Nor would she sit down — she plopped herself down on the floor in front of her seat and proceeded to throw a temper tantrum."

Then PICK HER UP and PUT HER IN HER SEAT. Or get your husband to do so. The boarding of a plane is not a time to console a tantrum-throwing child. (Yes, I know that this might have meant that the screaming child would stay on the plane. But this part really astounded me. The child threw herself on the floor and neither parent thought to just pick her up?)

This is reminding me, for some reason, of an experience I had on a Newark-to-Miami flight a while back. We were waiting to board and I noticed a woman standing at the airline counter with a little girl seated on the counter, in the 2-3-year-old range. The little girl HIT her mother...and the mother did nothing. Didn't even say, "We don't hit."
So, we board the plane, and they are, of course, sitting right next to me. This hitting scenario is repeated a couple of times. The mother has brought nothing - NOTHING - for her daughter to do. On a Newark-to-Miami flight. I'd be frustrated and cranky too.
Eventually, however, a flight attendant, who may well have been an angel, came to our row and asked if the little girl would like to "help" her serve drinks. The little girl went to her IMMEDIATELY - no protest, no stranger anxiety, which isn't all that common at that age. And for the rest of the trip she was happy as a clam - the only "problem" was that her parents had to decide whether or not to accept the tips that the first-class passengers wanted to give her for "helping." True story. I felt very sorry for the kid; she's got some truly clueless parents.

I have seen a lot of poorly behaved children on planes (I am leaving out small babies, who really can't control their behavior). I have never seen a poorly behaved child on a plane who had lots of stuff to keep him or her occupied. Ever. Kids get BORED, just like adults.
Now, obviously, flat-out meltdowns are another issue...but imagine if the mother had scooped up the kid and asked the flight attendant if she could transfer her tickets to a later flight, with her husband heading back home for his job. If AirTran hadn't helped her out *then*, I'd be pissed at them. That's what my mother would have done had the situation arisen. Of course, when I asked my mother if I had ever kicked anyone's seat on an airplane, my mother looked at me as though I had asked if I had ever spontaneously levitated, and then said, "No. I always had things for you to do. I don't think it ever crossed your mind."

"Babysitters out here now ask for $7.50 to $9.00 an hour."
That's approximately what I was getting when I was babysitting. As a teenager. In the late 80s-early 90s. I consider that a *cheap* price to pay for watching small children. I find it amusing that people complain that their efforts as parents aren't respected or validated by society, and then turn around and complain when third parties value *their* efforts to care for children at anything above minimum wage. Taking care of small children is hard work. It's harder than the white-collar jobs that I've had, for which I got paid MUCH more than $7.50 to $9.

Posted by: marion at January 23, 2007 8:46 AM

You hit so many sour, off notes in your commentary, I hardly know where to start.

I have no magical higher tolerance for other people's brats (parents are often just as judgemental and smug as the childless when it's not their kid).

When the already outrageously punished Mr. Kulesza tells the outrageously lecturing AirTran supervisor on the phone: "“You really need to stop talking now,” I wanted to award him a medal for heroic restraint.

You assume the parents are lying about the kid's ear surgery. Why?

For someone who insists they were were a sunny little, tantrumless model miss as a kid (why? Oh, because your mum says so. Yeah, right:)) - you sure are making it for it as an adult!

Over compensation, maybe?

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at January 23, 2007 9:17 AM

You don't recline your airplane seat???!?? That's not polite, THAT'S INSANE!!!!!*%&#^@

The idea is that everyone inclines their seats the piddly 3 inches allowed, and then noone's head is 3 inches from anyone's nose.

Learn it, live it, love it.

Posted by: Hasan at January 23, 2007 9:31 AM

As a Chronic sufferer of severe ear pain due to plane landings I can relate to the 3 year old in this story. In fact, on multiple occasions I have wanted to throw myself in the aisle and kick and scream. Because that s**T F***ing HURTS, and for me it hurts for DAYS afterwords.

That said, I have found mutiple ways of combating this sever pain. The best of which is called Ear Planes, which comes in both adult and child sizes! It is an earplug which helps balance the pressure in your ear so they do not pop. You put them in about an hour before the plane begins descending. That plus a little chewing gum == no pain.

These are readily available in every airport I've ever been to and pretty much any newsstand. Sometims you have to ask, but they usually have them. The Kuleszas could have done a little research to protect their recently operated on darling from the pain. (Y'know, since they love her so much)

Additionally, I have no doubt that parenting is extremely difficult. Having someone completely dependant on you is stressful and challenging. However the fact that people have been doing it for thousands of years with even less help than we have now somewhat lessens my sympathy. If you had to carry your brood on your back while you fetched water from the well, I might feel a little bad for you. But plumbing really negated any chance for sympathy that most parents might get from me.

The nicest thing I have to say about kids is that someday they wont be kids anymore. I hope that in the intervening years the people who gave life to them will take a little responsibility for their children, and in the process teach those same children to be responsible for themselves.

Posted by: Shinobi at January 23, 2007 9:43 AM

I wasn't saying their services aren't worth $9.00 an hour. It just floored me when I first heard it- my sister used to get something like a dollar and hour.

Posted by: eric at January 23, 2007 9:50 AM

"The Kuleszas could have done a little research to protect their recently operated on darling from the pain. (Y'know, since they love her so much)"

Totally agree, Shinobi.
I was getting so ticked off with Amy's "gas 'em at the gate" attitude, I didn't even consider that excellent point.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at January 23, 2007 9:55 AM

"Outrageously punished"? Jody, you seem to be great at putting yourself in the mother's shoes; how about you put yourself in her fellow passengers shoes? I practice diligent birth control. You wanna know why? Because I don't want kids. I don't want my own kids, even less do I want to deal with anyone else's kids. Since when is disturbing other people not only acceptable, but your right? This wasn't a preschool and please don't pretend that screaming children belong in public or that they are incapable of silence. Public space is just that, public. Shared. That doesn't mean that everyone has the right to do what they might in private, it means that everyone has the duty to consider everyone else sharing that space. If your kid has had recent ear surgery, I feel bad for you. I feel even worse for your kid that you would be stupid enough to take it on an airplane. That is assuming that their "reason" for the screaming was legitimate. Considering that the kid slept through the whole next flight only days later, I sincerely doubt that. Combined with the fact that the child was hitting the mother and that they allowed it to throw itself into an aisle without picking it up and putting it right back into it's seat, this points more to bad parenting than anything else. And yes, if your child disturbs an entire flight, probably delaying 100 other people that for all you know have urgent business elsewhere, you deserve a bit of a lecture. What is it with people acting like fools and then getting inordinately furious when that fact is pointed out to them. Just so YOU know, the proper reaction when your behavior is so appalling that a total stranger must rebuke you is abject apology and profound humiliation. At least pretend you give a flying f*** about anyone but yourself.

Posted by: Christina at January 23, 2007 10:00 AM

"That is assuming that their "reason" for the screaming was legitimate. Considering that the kid slept through the whole next flight only days later, I sincerely doubt that."

Best of luck with your studies in Ear, Nose and Throat (pediatrics), Christina!

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at January 23, 2007 10:14 AM

Checked out the AP story on Story said that the family had been visiting the child's grandparents, so they weren't traveling for a beach vacation or anything. That having been said, here are some choice quotes from the story:

"(They) were removed from the flight when the girl refused to take her seat before takeoff, airline officials said Tuesday. But her parents said they just needed a little more time to calm her down....She was removed because "she was climbing under the seat and hitting the parents and wouldn't get in her seat" during boarding, AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver said.
AirTran officials say they were only following Federal Aviation Administration rules that children age 2 and above must have their own seat and be wearing a seatbelt upon takeoff.
'The flight was already delayed 15 minutes and in fairness to the other 112 passengers on the plane, the crew made an operational decision to remove the family,' Graham-Weaver said.
But Julie Kulesza said: 'We weren't giving an opportunity to hold her, console her or anything.'"

So, they're complaining because everyone else on the flight wasn't willing to wait for them to control their child who was climbing under the seat? GAAAAAAAH.

(Click on my name to go to the full story.)

Posted by: marion at January 23, 2007 10:22 AM

Wow, such great comments here! I just read the account on drudge report and wanted a place to scream. Since you've done it for me, I'll only add that I can just see these parents;they evoke a heady spat of prejudice in me. Kids are a challenge, but so is Life. Now at the same time I'm saying "Figure it out, Folks," to the Plain People, I've got to drag my 17 year old outta bed! So much for good parenting?

Posted by: Robin at January 23, 2007 10:26 AM

"Best of luck with your studies in Ear, Nose and Throat (pediatrics), Christina!"

Not claiming to be an expert, Jody, though I was hospitalized for ear troubles and underwent surgery for the same problem.

Funny that you only responded to that portion.

Posted by: Christina at January 23, 2007 10:36 AM

>>And really, is it any more comfortable if you recline your seat,....

Yes, definitely. Try it some time. It's your perfect right. You've mentioned before your fear that seat-reclining may bust your lappy. I think you need a stronger computer.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at January 23, 2007 10:43 AM

"Not claiming to be an expert, Jody, though I was hospitalized for ear troubles and underwent surgery for the same problem."

Yeah, and I've been in a plane but I know sweet FA about flying one.

Christina - you don't even have the "expertise" of being a mother - which would at least give you proxy expertise in correctly handling an erupting kid yourself in ghastly, public circumstances.

Sure, we are all experts in what pisses us off. But what exactly should I have responded to in your comment- except for your comically daft bit of medical speculation?

You say "Public space is just that, public. Shared." Well, d'oh! The family was thrown off the plane. They got their swift punishment for a public infraction.

The airline handled the aftermath of the "punishment" absurdly. Since the no flying for 24 hours after an infraction is clearly designed as a cool off period for adults.

Is there any suggestion the parents were violent?

Where on earth does your appetite for the "humiliation" of the parents involved come from?

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at January 23, 2007 11:36 AM

On a connecting flight last fall, an infant directly behind me began to scream following lift-off. This kid had the lungs of a healthy adult. I was forced to plug my own ears with my hands to somewhat deafen the noise directly aimed at my head while my husband, in the seat just across the aisle from this distressed baby just looked tortured. Flight attendants exchanged words with the mother, but I could hear nothing over the screaming and nothing changed. The screaming went on for over 20 solid minutes until the baby was so exhausted that he finally fell asleep. Before he stopped one of the flight attendants asked me if I wanted to move. I should move? Confused, I shook my head no.

When the flight ended, mercifully, I expected that mother behind me to say something to me. Perhaps tell me that she was sorry for the misfortunate incident? That is what I would have done if my child had caused distress to others. Even if I was unable to find a solution for a screaming infant, I am responsible to make known to others that I am sorry for the disturbance. This mother said nothing to me. I suspect that I was purposefully invisible to

Now, I am the mother of two, so I am not immune to the vagaries of raising children, but something tells me that the attitude of these parents has much to do with the behavior of their children. After years of observation inside the walls of an elementary school where mothers rule PTA and various other school-related activities, it's not difficult to discern that many mothers (and a few fathers) have defined themselves as the sun around which their little darling children revolve. Excuses are rampant. These parents behave as though kids are mini-deities and so certain are they of this philosophy that to say so is tantamount to heresy.

The Kulesza family was amply rewarded for their daughter's behavior. Yes, children are 100% of our future, but I shudder to consider our future in the hands of adults taught as children to behave as though their feelings and desires are more important than those of anyone else. How about a free round-trip ticket for the other passengers for putting up with this nonsense?

Posted by: Em at January 23, 2007 12:00 PM

I am the mother of six children, now productive, happy adults. My children have given me, so far, five beautiful grandchildren. And I agree with Amy and disagree with the parents here who are excusing the bad behavior - of the parents!

If you have a child it is your duty to know what they can handle and what they can't. It is your duty to medicate them properly, as was obviously not done here. It is your duty to feed them healthy foods, not processed garbage right before a stressful experience such as flying. It is your duty to train them to behave appropriately, given their ages.

Your first obligation, once you choose to have a child, is that child. It remains so until that child is grown. These parents messed up, and badly. I can only imagine what the rest of their lives must be like. Does the little moppet dictator they have created allow them any rest and dignity? I doubt it.

They could have stayed home, left the child with a trusted caretaker, medicated the child, not fed the child junk, taken firm steps to control and subdue her on board, offered to leave the plane gracefully in return for seats on a later flight. Most of all, they could have instilled some discipline in their daughter starting about two and a half years before.

Don't tell me it can't be done, or that it is unfair to the little darlings. The overwhelming majority of people live their entire lives without ever behaving this way; and yes, many of them have serious health issues to deal with. In our family we have faced and continue to deal with some very serious challenges. Never do we consider that an excuse for making the lives of strangers miserable!

Parents, grow up. Manage your life and your children, or you will reap a whirlwind of pain and expense.

Posted by: AskMom at January 23, 2007 12:05 PM

My daughter's been traveling with me since she was 6 weeks old and she knows the rules: no yelling, no crying and, god forbid, no kicking the seat backs. People always comment upon debarking that they had no idea a preschooler was seated so close to them.

Once the little boy behind us kept kicking and kicking and I kept politely asking him to stop and finally I raised my voice a bit. "What's the matter?" his father asked. "Don't you like kids?" I replied, "Yes, I do, I just can't stand yours right now." At that my girl piped up, "She loves me."

I do think the airline was fair in asking this family to get off the plane.

That said, I think you too often paint all young fliers (or cafe diners or, wherever kids may be) with an unfairly harsh brush. I won't go so far as to say you hate kids or to point out that children pick up on adults' feelings toward them and respond accordingly but. . .

I see well-behaved children at least as often as I do well-behaved adults. The last plane I was on had a grown woman using the volume on her computer without headphones, two men laughing so loudly they had to be drunk, and several people eating the stinky fast food they'd brought on board. In comparison, the children were a pleasure.

Posted by: ProudMama at January 23, 2007 12:14 PM

I once dealt with a rambunctious child who would not stop kicking or pulling on the back of my seat. When I confronted the mother who was sitting next to her and told her that her daughter was annoying and should stop, she replied, "What exactly is it that you propose I should do?" Then the mother suggested that I move. On the return flight there was a mentally retarded 10 year old boy, who was screaming and wearing a bell. He thrashed and cried for about 10 minutes before the parents should calm him down. The parents did their best and they were very embarrassed

Posted by: Mary B. at January 23, 2007 12:25 PM

I have flown more than most people can imagine, all over the globe. I have flown with my children to the MiddleEast Europe all the the US... The bottom line is even a very well behaved child can act up in those circumstances, sometimes totally out of character and even takes the parent by surprize. Ear aches are particullarly common with children let alone the waiting around and sitting in one spot for hours on end. It's hard for most adults to have a possitve attitude under those circumstances. My kids are great travellers but it is NO THANKS to much of the airline staff that I have encountered. I have seen such arrogant, condensending treatment of parents (not directed at me) that is really pissed me off. Sorry.. they are children not dogs to be put in a box and put with luggage .. nor drugged as some (idiots have commented) ... they are children for G-ds sake!!! Children are part of life! We were all there.. it's so easy to blame a parent for an outburst... who the Hell are you to judge. That child could have been in pain... the family could be flying to a funeral... You have no idea what their circumstances are! Why not extend a little grace and understanding to the situation! Children are very aware of strangers... I supposed having a lot of nasty faces in uniforms around her did plenty to calm her down.

We wonder why there is so much strife in the world .. all you have to do is read such selfish and self righteous comments as listed above....

Posted by: cate at January 23, 2007 12:40 PM

cate: As a woman who raised her younger brother while still a child herself, I feel impelled to point out a couple of things.

What does a positive attitude have to do with parenting? The parent's duty is to take control of the situation when the child gets out of hand. The Kuleszas seem to have done a less than stellar job of doing just that. How long is it okay for a child to have a tantrum? Two minutes? Five minutes? I would say, ten seconds at the outside, then take it outside! From the article, it sounds like the Kuleszas were waiting for divine intervention, and great luck they had with that.

And as far as grace and understanding, please describe how that differs from indulgence, which is evidently what the Kuleszas felt they had the right to demand.

For my part, I would say that there would be much less strife in the world if people would take more responsibility for themselves and their behavior. I can't say I always enjoyed the discipline I got from my gran, but I'm smart enough to know I'm better off for it.

Posted by: That Julia at January 23, 2007 1:25 PM

Well said, Cate.

Your comment also reminds me that infuriating kids on planes are also a brilliant lightning rod for all the passengers' other impotent gripes.

You CAN'T ask the airline staff to eject stinky fast food adult, or obnoxious, seat-tipping adult, or the fat arsed mouth breathing adult next to you or the adult who has been looking at you funny for the last ten minutes..everyone is trapped, possibly more tetchy than when at home in the bath, wishing they were in first class...and a bloody kid starts bawling!

You know what? You've got something on which to focus every other travel indignity you can do absolutely nothing about and THIS time raise legitimate's a recipe for displaced fury.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at January 23, 2007 1:26 PM

I didn't travel by air with my kids until my youngest was 8. And then I came armed with a backpack full of carefully chosen distractions. And it worked, you just have to have a bit a awareness. I don't know if the airline was right here, but the parents were wrong for certain.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher at January 23, 2007 1:46 PM

Guys-- the earache doesn't start BEFORE and airplane ride.

The tantrum may have been triggeredby the memory of it, as the article suggests, but there's no reason but parental incompetence for its continuation ALL THE WAY INTO THE AIRPLANE.

Posted by: Deirdre B. at January 23, 2007 1:57 PM

Jesus, one of my resolutions this year was to limit the number of opinions to express. Anyone want a martini? I'm having a martini.

Posted by: eric at January 23, 2007 2:05 PM


Finally somebody has the nerve to stand up to parents who are flying with unruly children and make the flying experience better for the majority.

I pay a lot of money to travel on airplanes and I don't pay to hear children scream or to deal with children who are undisciplined.

Keep your children in check or drive!!

thank you Airtran, thank you, thank you, thank you

Posted by: Lee C at January 23, 2007 2:19 PM

Of course you don't know how to fly a plane; you've never done it. I have had ear surgery, but I never claimed to know how to do it. I was just suggesting that such pain does not go away quickly. You are completely right, speculation it was. Much like most of our commentary. This being about opinion and all.

As for your comment about my lack of "expertise" in parenting, you are right. I'm not a parent. Others on this page are, however, and the majority of them seem to believe that they are responsible for the behavior of their child.

They were punished, not "outrageously" as you first said, and perhaps the 24 ban would not have been imposed if they had handled the situation better. Delaying a flight 15 minutes because you can't get control of your child is no one's fault but your own. Someone else suggested that they should have voluntarily left the flight and asked to be put on the next one. I agree.

I have no appetite for the humiliation of the parents. Read it more closely. I was suggesting that the proper response when you have delayed 100+ people is apology and humiliation. That is the proper response in ANY circumstance where your behavior negatively affects others. This, instead of the "What about MEEEEEEE!!" response of many rude people when their inappropriate behavior is pointed out to them.

Posted by: Christina at January 23, 2007 2:28 PM

Nobody sees in this the nation as a whole? One ornery kid, able on account of humanism, feminism, liberalism, "politically correct, factionalism, " "celebrate diversity," and all the rest, able, figuratively, to run roughshod over the crew and passengers of an airliner about to take off?

Maybe that's why we have the country we have - and its Bush League "Administration."

Posted by: Hal von Luebbert at January 23, 2007 3:36 PM

So it was liberals, feminists and humanists that elected Bush? News to me.

Posted by: deja pseu at January 23, 2007 4:07 PM

Deja pseu-

check out his website.

Posted by: eric at January 23, 2007 4:40 PM

The child and her parents weren't put off the flight because she was crying and screaming. They were put off because the child was not in her seat and the parents would not act quickly to keep her there, the plane was full of passengers who needed to leave the airport, and federal law prohibits planes from taking off without having everyone buckled in - and as federal laws go, this strikes me as one of the more defensible.

This is a three-year-old child who had both parents with her. They could have picked her up, buckled her in the seat, and held her there so that the flight could have taken off. Instead, they apparently tried to "console" her. I am perfectly willing to admit that consoling a child having a temper tantrum is a good approach when you're at home, but when you're on a plane that's trying to take off, you need to focus on getting that child buckled in, or you need to get off the flight. The reason, I think, that people here are heaping so much scorn on the parents is that they seem to see no reason why their focus on consoling their child at the expense of an entire planeful of passengers who needed to get where they were going was unacceptable.

Posted by: marion at January 23, 2007 4:43 PM

Since the father in question "is a full-time EMT in Boston who also attends nursing school full time," (from Amy's link) he probably knows more about ear surgery after effects than either of us.

So I would speculate - though with some basis - that his kiddie had seemed fine to him - both in his professional capacity and as a parent - up until Moment Zero of the tantrum. Okay? The parents had no advance warning this was going to happen. I can see no indication that the parents were in any way careless or indifferent to the other passengers. I simply don't get why you consider a that reaction of "humiliation" should be appropriate? (And sorry if I slightly misunderstood you first time).

It also wasn't directly the "fault" of the parents that the flight was delayed 15 minutes. Clearly, the delay decision was made by airline staff and everyone hoped the situation would resolve itself happily. It did not.

You suggest the 24 hour flying ban might not have been imposed if the parents "had handled the situation better."

Great. So it's an selective punishment for verbal conduct unbecoming in the aftermath of a stressful situation - and nothing to do with safety, then? This is fair/smart/wise how - exactly?

You also said roundly of their failure to contain Miss Tiny Tantrum "this points more to bad parenting than anything else".

Jeepers, how do you contain your disapproval on a daily basis? What do you do when you witness real "bad parenting"? Explode?

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at January 23, 2007 4:47 PM

Eric, uh, no thanks.

I agree 100% with what marion said.

Posted by: deja pseu at January 23, 2007 4:52 PM

I want to vote for marion for president.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at January 23, 2007 5:14 PM

I agree with you on this one, if the parents can not control their toddler they deserved to be taken off the airplane.

I do have to tell you though parenting is not that easy!
If you've never been there you can not imagine the difficulties it's a wonder so many children survive their childhood.

Posted by: anaBanana at January 23, 2007 5:32 PM

I remember the time our then two year old daughter plopped herself down on the floor and threw her one and only temper tantrum. I tipped her up, gave her a single swat on the bottom, at which point some woman I had never seen before came running down the isle screaming "Don't you dare strike that child." Completely pissed, I whipped around, stuck my finger in her face, and shouted "Lady, you shut up or you're next." Her face turned white as a sheet and she hustled off as fast as her legs would carry her. My kids thought it was hilarious and couldn't wait to tell everyone they saw that daddy told some lady he was going to give her a spanking.

Posted by: Dave at January 23, 2007 8:20 PM

I disagree with Cate and agree with Marion, and as usual feel that Amy hit all the nails on the head.
I read the news story before I read Amy's blog, and reading the news story my reaction was "good." I have no problem with the airline refunding the money, since the family did not actually take the flight. I think that should be done as a matter of course.
An interesting point, though, which supports those who criticize the parents: in the news story I read, the father said he would never fly AirTran again. ????? He won't? So AirTran is the wrongdoer here? This guy and his wife thought that holding up an entire plane for 15 minutes and counting was OK. Even giving them the benefit of the doubt, that they wanted to calm their child before strapping her in her seat to minimize her trauma, they should have acknowledged that they were inconveniencing many other people, and not just by making everyone wait and listen to screaming. How about all the people that were going to miss connecting flights the longer the tantrum went on? I think the suggestion made before that the parents should have been conscious of this and offered to debark and take a later flight was an excellent one. The fact that they didn't shows that they put their own convenience over everyone else's. Also, with regards to the ear surgery: if the ear surgery was a problem, why did the parents choose that point in time to take their kid on an airplane trip? Why not wait until the kid is completely healed before flying to Miami? Yes, it might have meant putting off a trip for a few weeks, but then, these parents clearly don't believe they should ever be inconvenienced for anyone else's sake.
The fact is the airline offered these people the chance to take a later flight, because they weren't near prepared to be on the scheduled flight. The airline balanced the interests of all the passengers, and the airline refunded the money to the parents who didn't travel. I don't see anything the airline did wrong here, and believe me I have dealt with some real doozies in the airline industry.

Posted by: Donna at January 24, 2007 6:54 AM

I recounted this story to my boyfriend, who said "When they were asked to leave the plane, was there a round of applause?" I would have clapped.

Posted by: meshaliu at January 24, 2007 7:43 AM

That makes at least two of us.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 24, 2007 7:47 AM

Donna- I totally agree. Whether or not the parents cpuld have anticipated the tantrum, it happened, they chose to let it go on for 15 minutes at least, and they are the ones who should have made the decision to step off the plane. The staff gave them the opportunity to do something about, and they failed. They didn't have to give them any such chance; they could have booted them 2 minutes into it, or 5, or 10. They made bad choices, there were crappy consequences. What is so unfair here? The other passengers were forced to listen to a screaming kid for 15 minutes in a confined space, wasting their time, even if they weren't becoming late for anything else. How is this not carelessness and indifference. If I hold up other people when I could have prevented it by taking some action I am certainly very apologetic. I guess to some people this isn't a cause to apologize. Perhaps that's where the real problem lies.

Posted by: christina at January 24, 2007 9:16 AM

I sympathize with the airline and with the little girl.

The child recently had ear surgery. The parents should not have inflicted air travel on her.

The airline waited 15 minutes for these "adults" to take control of their small child's wanderings.

Too bad we can't license parents. Those two would have flunked the licensing tests.

Posted by: NoKnuckleheadsOnBoard at January 24, 2007 9:56 AM

The article said that the flight was already delayed 15 minutes, not that the child delayed the flight 15 minutes. It's called reading comprehension. Unless there is some further information that I don't know about, it's not fair to blame this family for the initial delay.

Posted by: Maria at January 24, 2007 10:50 AM

To be fair to the child haters (my shorthand!), Maria, the reason for the 15 minute delay can be read both ways. It remains unclear from the context.

However, it just added to the general outrage perpetrated on all the other long-suffering passengers because, as Christina kindly pointed out they "probably...for all you know have urgent business elsewhere."

(Maybe they were all ferrying organs for transplant, or something fearfully important like that?)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at January 24, 2007 11:56 AM

As a frequent buisness flyer, I applaud Airtran for there decision.

Posted by: Newt at January 24, 2007 12:27 PM

Maria: the quote from the airline representative was, '"The flight was already delayed 15 minutes and in fairness to the other 112 passengers on the plane, the crew made an operational decision to remove the family," Graham-Weaver said.' How can you be sure the tantrum had nothing to do with the delay?

Jody: Labeling everyone who thinks the parents were in the wrong as "child-haters" is over the top and unfair to the other commenters. And your remark about ferrying organs for transplant suggests that you think the other passengers' time was free for the parents to waste, and that among those 112 people, no one else had anything more important to do than the parents did, and nothing more important to do than watch the tail wag the dog. I disagree, and I suspect those 112 other passengers would too.

Can you explain what the child was doing sitting on the floor of the airplane and climbing under the seat? If the parents wanted to calm and console her, why did they not already have her in their arms/on their lap? Maybe you will be as understanding next time when it is your time that is being wasted for no good reason.

Posted by: Donna at January 24, 2007 12:47 PM

My point was that it did not give a reason for the delay, so it is not fair to assume it was the due to the tantrum. There was several comments that assumed it was the fault of the child, I was just pointing out that you can't make that assumption, not that it had to be incorrect.

In my experience, airlines have wasted my time with delays for worse reasons than unruly children. If only they would hold themselves accountable they way they held this family.

Posted by: Maria at January 24, 2007 1:35 PM

sounds like you need help from your mom here
maybe i should call her and ask her to tell you

You live in a trailer park

but she's probably too classy to do something like that

Maybe she could lay on the guilt...

Amy, this is your mother, we wanted you to have kids but know that with your underdeveloped logic, your nurturing abilities are lacking and you couldn't emotionally afford to have one, so rather than having kids, you've chosen to baby that mechanical nightmare on wheels and paint it pink as if it's a little girl. Then, you do the unforgiveable and allow someone to steal your car, which is a terrible thing, but seeing how irresponsible you are in letting your car get stolen in the first place illustrates once more what a blessing it is you don't have a child. And thank goodness you don't have a child who can lose the pillow your grandmother for you. She would simply turn over in her grave if that were to happen. So please do yourself and the world a favor, don't have a child. It's the least you can do! That is all!

your post smacks if ignorance
simply your lack of knowledge

take a moment to learn something about the subject your are going to opine on

Posted by: Carolina at January 24, 2007 1:46 PM

and if you couldn't detect the sarcasm there
i was referring to the unfortunate event of your car being stolen


stick to discussing your personal quandaries which are quite amusing and a relief to read about as these situations are happening to you and not to a life you know nothing about

then you can freely advise on your own circumstances
if you learned something from it - you might actually be able to provide a valuable service

Posted by: Carolina at January 24, 2007 1:52 PM

A) Dave for president; that spanking story was parenting at its' best
B) Can I have their AirTran tickets since they aren't going to use them? I have a 5 year old that has been on flights since birth and he's never once cried, fussed, etc. Most people never know he's there. It's all about the parents, what we do to prepare, and not being afraid to be the ADULT in the situation! How does a 3 year old hold her two parents hostage?!

Posted by: Brenda at January 24, 2007 4:24 PM

BRAVO Air Tran! It's a sad day in America when parents actually get REWARDED for their children's horrific behavior. What happened to the days when "a look" made you shudder in your shoes and you'd best not say a word? Hey! I was not beaten as a kid - I had a great upbringing and my parents were awesome - but I knew the limits. Parents today are not allowed to be parents and I praise Air Tran for trying to let this world know that Mr. & Mrs. Kulesza should have either had an abortion or practiced VERY safe sex 3 years and 9 months ago - they are not eligible for the privilege of being call mommy and daddy!

Perhaps they will think twice before bringing their brats into public again....OR they will actually get some parent training to learn how to control their children and eventually functioning members of society!

Posted by: wendy at January 24, 2007 5:39 PM

I ran this by a friend with a small child today. He was 100% on the side of the airline. He had the same argument I did - basically, that when a 3-year-old is refusing to get into his/her seat for whatever reason, his/her parents should pick up the child and put said child in his/her seat. If this had been, say, a 10-year-old developmentally disabled child who the parents hadn't been able to subdue, that would have been something else. But 3-year-olds are small enough to be picked up and put somewhere by two ablebodied adults (or one ablebodied adult and a four-months-pregnant woman not actively puking her guts out). Neither one of these parents even seems to have thought about that option, if their comments about how they didn't get a chance to "console" their daughter are anything to go by.

Posted by: marion at January 24, 2007 6:14 PM

Maria: Your initial comment was "The article said that the flight was already delayed 15 minutes, not that the child delayed the flight 15 minutes. It's called reading comprehension."
That sounds a little combative, as if you were saying that the rest of us don't know how to read.

Then you said, "My point was that it did not give a reason for the delay, so it is not fair to assume it was the due to the tantrum." Perhaps, but it is more reasonable than assuming that the plane was delayed for other reasons, and then all of a sudden the flight crew noticed a crying child and immediately and unceremoniously chucked the family off the plane.

Do you ever watch the show "Airline?" It is very instructive in many ways (not the least of which is to make me not want to fly Southwest), but if that show is any indication, most of the time people are not prevented from boarding/removed from a plane willy nilly... in fact, the opposite seems to be true. The flight crew aren't stupid and I doubt the decision to make this family take a later flight was made lightly.

>>>In my experience, airlines have wasted my time with delays for worse reasons than unruly children. If only they would hold themselves accountable they way they held this family.

My experience has been different. This is not to say that my time isn't wasted, or that I haven't endured much, much longer delays. But the reasons given (weather, something wrong with the plane, etc.) are more than valid for me. Better safe than sorry, especially when flying on an airplane.

Posted by: Donna at January 24, 2007 7:53 PM

Check w/ the FAA. ALL passengers must be seated for pushback and take off. A 3 year old is a passenger. NO SPECIAL TREATMENT just b/c you gave birth to another human being. The kid sounds like a brat anyway.

Posted by: Paige at January 24, 2007 11:14 PM

Carolina, in the future, try to avoid drinking and posting.

I'd guess you're one of those "parents" with the underparented, over-indulged brats, and you find it hard or impossible to believe that parents could actually raise a child to behave, or keep the child out of situations where it cannot.

PS I once looked at a beautiful house in a trailer park overlooking the ocean, but it was a million five, and that doesn't include the land.

I realize you must have read my Rambler story, remembered you had a PC, decided anyone can write as long as they can type, and thought you'd try your hand at being clever.

You failed.


Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 25, 2007 12:07 AM

The media spin on this story is puke-inducing: "Crying child gets family booted off airplane" is the main (and often only) idea mentioned in both headlines and stories.

But the point is that the plane would have taken off if the kid had been buckled into her seat. FAA regulations prohibit takeoff until everybody over 2 years old is seated and buckled in. (The insane exception allowing kids 2 and younger to sit on an adult's lap if the adult is buckled in, is a whole nother subject.)

As many of the commenters here - and elsewhere in cyberspace - have noted, planes take off every day with crying or screaming kids onboard. But not with them rolling around on the floor.

Thanks, marion, for pointing out that a three year old is small enough to pick up and buckle into a seat. The parents have no excuse for not doing so. Their feeble mumble that "we didn't want to further traumatize her" by either putting her into the seat in the first place or buckling her in in the second,is such crap. And exactly how happy was the kid while she was screaming, hitting, kicking, and rolling around on the floor? For at least 15 minutes, from the sound of it.

I'm not second-guessing whether the kid was traumatized by a "referred memory" of ear pain or any of the other nonsense that's been posted all over the web. It's not relevant to the AirTran crew's actions.

What IS relevant is that they had to get a plane full of passengers into the air, and by law they couldn't do it with little Elly not buckled into her seat.

And now her incompetent parents get to bask in their status as the media's "victims of the week." Plus they got their money back. It's all good for them.

Posted by: Suz at January 25, 2007 4:51 AM

Donna, you are my hero. Rational and calm in the face of idiocy.

I was wasting some more time thinking about this and then it occured to me. It was a revelation or maybe it was an epiphany. It is utterly impossible to impress the oh-so-subtle nuances of basic courtesy and appropriate public behavior upon people who have not yet grasped the concept of personal responsibility. Here we are, trying to discuss algebra when the other party doesn't know addition. Who is more the fool? Ah, what a giggle I had over that.

Amy- Ha! I think I burned off a whole cheeseburger laughing over carolina and your response. But please, don't discourage her. I could stand to lose a few pounds and that is so much easier than crunches.

Posted by: christina at January 25, 2007 10:17 PM

People who equate spanking with beating astound me. There's definitely a difference. Kids who occasionally receive the well-deserved slap on the fanny aren't warped for life, but frequently do straighten up and behave. And the loving pat also serves to reinforce the concept of who is in control of the situation, ragardless of who the child believes is right. There's no time like childhood to begin to associate negative consequences with bad behavior, once the child has been introduced to the concept of what constitutes bad behavior. Unfortunately, that's where some of these "progressive" parents seem to fall short.

I think those parents who "can't control" their infant and small children are pathetic and don't deserve to have kids. I agree with the blogger who suggested that one of the parents should have picked the child up, plunked her little behind down in the seat and fastened her belt. Oh, and if her parents were so sympathetic towards her fears about her ear, why were they making her fly at all after her alleged earlier painful experience? Why not just cash in the tickets and accompany her home on the bus or a rental car? Or keep her home until she's capable of being among people. Or anything else that would spare the general public from having to indulge the brat.

Thanks, Air Tran, for kicking them off. But you shouldn't have caved with the offer of refunds or complimentary tickets.

Posted by: Jake at January 26, 2007 11:03 AM

A few, random comments from the peanut gallery:
On the "They should apologize/be embarrassed" versus "Why should anyone feel bad about something they can't control" debate: Umm... common courtesy? Common sense, perhaps? If I inflict something unpleasant (either by my own standards or those I believe may be held by those around me) on others, it behooves me to apologize. It doesn't matter if it was an accident/unintended/not under my control. Whether it's a screaming baby or loud, public flatulence, it's not something those around me requested or signed up for. Last time I put myself through flying, I was aware that I was very likely going to be sick at least once. I spoke to the flight attendants beforehand. I apologized and requested extra bags and other little supplies to try to limit the inconvenience. I apologized to the person sitting next to me. I asked beforehand if it would be possible to move if there was an empty row or aisle once everyone was onboard. When I got sick, I apologized to those being held hostage by a seating arrangement to my unpleasantness. Why? Because it's my responsibility to be the least unpleasant I can possibly be.
Responsibility, people. Assume it or don't, but if you opt for "don't" then you have no reason thinking you should breed.
For those who will say, "You must not have kids to think that way," my response is: Actually, I do. You do the crime, you do the time. I'm aware what a huge, scary, giant, man-eating responsibility I set myself up for. I'm responsible for everything done by and done to another human being until such time as said person goes out to live an independent life. Whether my spawn grows up to knock over convenience stores or graduates Yale with honors, it's my blessed problem. When I decided that, one day, I would breed, it was with a strong awareness of how thankless and hellish the whole process can be. There are way too many people who do it by accident, or think it's going to be such fun. I just wanted to do my part to balance out the percentage of idiots who are breeding. I've heard way too many grocery store conversations in which some random woman complains that she wants to be pregnant again, now that her baby is now two or three or four, and so not as precious and cute anymore. So very frustrating.
For the "Parenting is hard" versus "parenting can't be that difficult" argument:
It's hard. You start off with someone completely helpless who can't function without you. You upgrade to someone with no morals who thinks the world revolves solely around them. If you're lucky/do the job well, you upgrade to someone with no worldly experience who possesses a highly naive sense of how things should work. Until a child is approx. thirteen, they really have no grasp of the abstract, so you have someone with a very black and white view of life. You then upgrade to someone who should have a grasp of morality and compromise, but who believes they know everything better than you do.
Raising children is hard. You spend (if you're luck) the better part of two decades with a self-centered, arrogant little know-it-all, and you try to turn them into someone you'd want to have a conversation with. There are days I believe parenting to be a biologically driven form of masochism, if done well.
...and that's about it from the peanut gallery.

Posted by: Bella at January 26, 2007 1:35 PM

Hi Christina: that's an awfully nice thing for you to say. Now, when can we get started on the next tempest in a teapot? I think we've done this one every way it can be done.

Posted by: Donna at January 27, 2007 8:58 PM

As someone who discovered Benadryl too late in life, I assert that children would appreciate being drugged more often. Before a certain age, a two hour car trip or a five hour flight are equal eternities, and airplanes don’t put kids to sleep the way car trips can. Why it’s considered inhumane to spare young children this tedium is beyond me.

Posted by: Michelle at January 28, 2007 10:27 PM

This is one of those weird cultural things I just do not 'get' about America. I have spend about 1/3rd of my life on your side of the puddle but I just cannot understand why so many folks in the USA act as if their child will turn into an axe murderer later in life if they refuse to tolerate temper tantrums.

As for the idea that confronting a child's nastiness with some measured parental nastiness is unthinkable, why do people think conditioning their child to think the only one capable of acting unreasonably with impunity is them, leads to a well adjusted adult?

Posted by: Perry de Havilland at February 3, 2007 5:11 AM

It's quite amazing, and very much to the contrary. I see it with my dog.

I would never have children because I'm impatient and self-absorbed -- a pity more parents don't feel the same way. But, I see it with my dog. I'm like a fascist with her. I took two months when I got her to teach her to behave. She will do whatever I tell her: Sit, lie down, be quiet. If she's naughty, she gets sent to my bedroom with the door shut to be alone. Attention whore that she is, when she comes out, she's very well-behaved. Oh yeah, and she'll go in a litterbox if there's a time she isn't let outside.

What this means is I can take my dog ANYWHERE. She doesn't need to be left home. If I have her in my lap (yes, she's tiny -- but she's 8.5 years old -- not part of the trend) in a restaurant, the movies, or a plane, you'll only know if I let you know. Oh, and she's one of a few breeds that has hair, not fur, so she doesn't affect people with allergies.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 3, 2007 8:10 AM

Actually, it ISN'T that hard to raise a kid to behave in public. I have three.

Bottom line--the parents are raising their daughter to be self-absorbed, to blame others when things don't go her way, and to expect the world to stop so she can be "consoled" when she decides to throw a fit.

Posted by: Mel at February 5, 2007 3:32 PM

This was the most ridiculous shit I have ever heard of! I have two children, now grown, who have been flying (and interacting with the public) since the day they left the hospital.

When I had my first child and wanted to take her from California to Washington, DC, she was only 6 weeks old. As a new mother, I didn't know what to expect, other than I expected my new baby to act up the entire 3000 miles. I paid for a first class ticket so that we wouldn't be jammed in coach if she started to cry. I booked a non-stop flight to cut down on the amount of time that she would be in the air. I made sure she had a pacifier (she never needed one) just in case her ears got plugged. When we I got my boarding pass, I insisted that the seat next to me be empty since the plane wasn't full. Well, my brand new baby slept from SFO to DCA - never woke up the entire 5-1/2 hour flight! The only this she did do, just as we made a rough landing in DC, was to have the messiest, smelliest bowel movement that she could muster, making the whole cabin stink! Fortunately (or because of it) the flight attendants had us leave the plane first.

That said, I had another child three years later. My late husband was in entertainment so the kids and I regularly flew to spend time with him on the road. We also made numerous trips a year home to DC. My children NEVER, EVER, EVER had a tantrum or acted inappropriately. Why? Because we didn't allow that kind of behavior at home. Or at the mall. Or at the homes of friends. I had been married four years before I had my first child and we had amassed a nice cache of crystal and porcelain collectibles. When my daughter crawling, everyone asked me if I was going to put my nice things up where she couldn't reach them. I said that I couldn't put THEIR things up when we came to visit. No, I was going to teach her NOT to touch things, if I had to wear the back of her little hands out. If she (or, later, her brother) even LOOKED like they were going to "stretch out" (throw a tantrum) either in private or public, those Huggies were heated up. By the time they were two years-old, we had them under control. All we had to do is raise an eyebrow and they knew not to act a fool.

My daughter was told at age 7 that she couldn't wear make-up of any kind before age 16. When she got to the age where young girls start wanting to put on a bit of colored lip gloss or blush, it was not even an issue in my home. When she began middle school, she would look up at any time and see me looking through the little window in her classroom door. I only had to do this a few times and she got the impression that Mom was EVERYWHERE, watching her and her brother at every moment.

My son could use the car to take his little girlfriend home when he was 16, but he'd better get that kiss and petting in at the 3 minute red light because I expected my car back in the driveway in exactly 35 minutes.

These parents were actually shocked to learn that the public did not rise up against AirTran. Apparently they believe that all children are entitled to act a fool every now and then. Anyone with an ounce of good sense could see that this was not the first time that this spoiled child "stretched out", either at home or in public. She has been allowed to control her parents by using bad behavior as a bargaining chip. And her actions are only going to get worse. She will not listen to them when she's 15 and decides that she wants to have a baby. Then at age 18, she'll be getting out of cars with her legs wide open and no panties. The next week, her parents will discover (a) she's stripping and/or hooking, (b) strung out on heroin, (c) already 4 months pregnant, (d) suffering from about three different STDs, or (e) all of the above!

You have to start disciplining children BEFORE they get so that they can out-think their parents (at about age 5). And parents have to be consistent and proactive with the discipline.

Now you may think that I have ended up with children who went out of control when they went off to college or hate their parents. NOPE!!! Both of my children are successful, confident, and well-adjusted. My husband was killed in a home-invasion robbery when they were teens and I told them that was not the time for them to act up - that their father had loved them and had taught them how to be good human beings - he would be dissappointed if they derailed just because he was no longer with us.

If those people don't teach that little girl how to act, she is going to be miserable and so are they. Fair and unabusive discipline shows children that they are loved. Children who are allowed to run (ruin?) their parents will never have any respect for themselves or others. I don't like to be around ill-mannered children and I sure wouldn't want to be 30,000 feet up when some bad ass kid decides to take off running down the aisle and grabbing the emergency exit or hitting the pilot with a GameBoy!!


Posted by: OhMyGoddess at February 8, 2007 8:08 PM

Why? Because we didn't allow that kind of behavior at home. Or at the mall. Or at the homes of friends.

Exactly. Exactly. That was how I was raised. I loved your example of not putting china up where kids couldn't reach it, but expecting that they would be careful of it.

My parents aren't perfect, but they gave all of us a great gift by giving us boundaries.

I commented on another entry: When I was eight, I was convinced I could fly, but the idea that I would EVER be loud in a public place or kick somebody's chair in the movies did not exist in my idea of what was possible in the known universe.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 8, 2007 8:28 PM

Do Airtran charge money for children's tickets, or is it a free service? If it's not free, in what way is their staff's inability to handle a child excusable?

Posted by: Squander Two at February 21, 2007 4:06 PM

Why is it the staff's job to "handle" a child? Imagine if every passenger needed "handling" just to get them in their seats.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 21, 2007 5:25 PM

I was using "handle" in the sense of "cope with". They clearly hadn't the faintest clue what to do. You're keen to criticise the parents for not knowing how to handle the situation, but you refuse to consider criticising the airline staff for not knowing how to handle the situation.

What if the child had thrown a tantrum after take-off? Since the airline staff's only response to what is, frankly, quite an everyday situation involves chucking the child off the plane, what would on Earth they do? Answer: they'd do absolutely nothing to calm the child down, a lot to aggravate the child and its parents, all leading to more noise and aggro for the other passengers.

>“Sir, we don’t differentiate between 3 and 33,” the AirTran supervisor replied.

This is plain stupid. Children are not adults. That doesn't necessarily excuse bad behaviour, but still, anyone who doesn't know that shouldn't be selling tickets to children.

How about disabled passengers? Someone falls out of their wheelchair, causing an obstruction. Should the staff (a) tell him to get back in his chair and chuck him off the plane if he doesn't comply, or (b) help him? Would “Sir, we don’t differentiate between disabled and able-bodied,” sound reasonable? I personally believe that airlines should be free to refuse to accept disabled passengers, or children, or any other class of passengers they wish. If they want to charge more for children, fine by me. But selling tickets to children and then panicking when one of them acts like a child is simply unprofessional.

Posted by: Squander Two at February 27, 2007 10:11 AM

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