Is a 2-year-old girl really a flight risk? Of course not, unless she's having a temper tantrum.
Colette Vieau and her family were heading home from vacation, when their toddler had a code red melt-down after boarding the plane. Refusing to stay seated and buckled up, and possibly agitating her 3-year-old sister, Vieau's youngest daughter, Natalie, became public enemy number one as the plane crew waited for take off.
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"We were holding them down with all of our might, seat belt on. And I said, 'We have them seated. Can we go now?" Colette, a pediatrician, told Rhode Island's NBC 10. "[The flight attendant] said the pilot's made a decision to turn the plane around."
Things got worse from there, according to the New England-based mom. The plane turned around on the tarmac and promptly booted the family of four from the flight.
A representative for JetBlue backed the pilot's decision, stating the flight had "customers that did not comply with crew-member instructions for a prolonged time period. The captain elected to remove the customers involved for the safety of all customers and crew-members on board."
Scrambling to find four seats on another Turks and Caicos flight bound for Boston, the Vieau family were forced to spent $2000 on overnight accommodations. Needless to say, their vacation ended on a bad note, but rules are rules.
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Federal aviation regulations require all passengers over 2-years-old to be buckled up in their seats, seated upright, with cell phones turned off before take-off. With passenger safety and airline security under more scrutiny than ever, nobody is an exception. Not a 2-year-old, not a 102-year-old. Not even Alec Baldwin.
"I don't know that I could blame JetBlue, to be totally fair," Colette told the local news affiliate. "I just feel like it's airplane travel today in general."
While celebrities and kids alike are subjected to the same federal aviation rules, moms and dads are baring the brunt of the backlash.
Between heightened, kid-startling TSA security, and a growing screaming baby-phobia amongst passengers, parents are in the crosshairs. If kids are more revved up and anxious by the time they get on a flight, childless passengers are less tolerant and more ticked-off. In 2010, a mom claimed her son was assaulted by a passenger because he wouldn't stop kicking the seat in front of him. In 2011, a Virgin Atlantic flight attendant stuck a 1-year old in an overhead storage compartment as a bizarre joke that other passengers found hysterical. The parents weren't laughing.
Airlines, meanwhile, have their own desperate financial and security concerns that don't factor in the unique needs of two-year olds. In 2009, a mom and her 2-year-old son were reportedly removed from a Southwest Airlines flight after the child's relentless screams for the plane to take off became unbearable. Earlier this year, a family of six complained of being kicked off a flight for having too many kids. And last year, babies were banned outright from some first class flights on Malaysia Airlines.
Gone are the days of the Pan Am pins and cockpit visits, and that's just fine. But are the days of kid-friendly skies gone with them?
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