Southwest Removes Family and Toddler From Flight
A family and their small child were removed from a Southwest flight Wednesday after the child was agitated due to her fear of flying.
According to Facebook user Alexis Armstrong, the incident occurred before Southwest flight 1683 departed from Chicago (MDW) to Atlanta (ATL). She shared this video of the event on Facebook:
The caption of the video described the incident as follows:
#southwest #shame #on #you #southwest #airlines kicked a man off the plane with his two year old daughter because she was afraid and not sitting in her own seat.. he asked the lady for a minute to calm her down she walked away and called people to remove him. The baby was already calm by now and sitting in her own seat. Captain then came over intercom to say we will be going back to the gate to handle a customer service issue. They then told me stop filming and this issue did not involve me, and that me and another woman who spoke up will be the next off he plane. The flight attendant then came to tell me be quiet stop talking ( to the person next to me ) no one around me wants to hear about the situation. #Flight1683 #MDW to #ATL ABC 7 Chicago NBC Chicago Southwest Airlines #Michelle was the flight attendant
It appears that the child was afraid of flying and became agitated while the plane was getting ready to depart. A flight attendant approached the family and asked the father to put his daughter back in her seat. The father then asked the FA to give him two minutes to calm his daughter down so he could put her back in her seat.
"Then the flight attendant in red came over and said she needs to calm and sit or will be escorted off. The man calms the child, gets her popcorn, sets her up," Armstrong told Inc.
The FA then contacted the captain about the ordeal, with the captain coming over the intercom shortly after saying the aircraft would be returning to the gate.
The video shows that aircraft back at the gate, with two Southwest employees telling the family they need to leave the aircraft even though the two-year-old was no longer agitated. You can hear the father say that he was just trying to calm his child down, and other passengers seem to corroborate his story.
"[The child] had a fit for about three minutes while still boarding and people seating," Armstrong said to Inc.
The flight attendant says something along the lines of: "I explained the FAA regulations. There's no more discussion. We are back at the gate. You knew that was going to be the option." She's most likely referring to FAA rules requiring everyone to be seated when taxing to the runway.
"We are cleared for departure," the flight attendant added. "We all need to understand the operation unfortunately."
"All I really wanted was it to be seen by [Southwest] and apologize to this family," Armstrong told Inc. "I am a mom, and my heart was hurting for this dad. Southwest owes them an apology. I did not think this would blow up. I am not sure why I even began to film. I just knew from the woman's attitude and security approaching it wasn't going to end well."
A Southwest spokesperson provided this statement to TPG regarding the incident:
After pushback Wednesday evening, Flight 1683 to Atlanta returned to the gate at Chicago Midway to allow supervisors to board the aircraft. Our initial reports indicate a conversation escalated onboard between the crew and a customer traveling with a small child. We always aim for a welcoming and hospitable experience and regret the inconvenience to all involved. The traveling party was booked on the next flight to Atlanta after the original flight continued as planned. We will reach out to the customer to listen to any concerns they have about their experience and look forward to welcoming them onboard again soon.
The story was updated at 1:18pm EST with Southwest's statement.