Mona Doshi (pictured here with her husband, Prashant, and kids, Riya, 3, and Milin, 2) says her family was removed from a flight even though they did nothing wrong. (Photo: Mona Doshi)
A family who flew JetBlue on Monday says they were unfairly kicked off a flight after being accused of refusing to comply with flight attendants’ instructions to put their 2-year-old in his seat. The family says their son was seated and buckled and that the flight crew threw them off the plane anyway.
Mona Doshi and her husband were flying from Boston to Baltimore at the end of a family vacation. On the earlier flight to Boston, Doshi says the flight attendant allowed her to seat her 2-year-old son, Milin, on her lap. “We did buy him a seat,” she told Yahoo Parenting, citing rules that children over the age of 2 have their own ticket, “but he was squirmy, so I held him for takeoff and didn’t know there was anything wrong with that.” The flight was their first since their son turned 2, she says, and though they have an older daughter, she never had trouble with flying.
On Monday’s flight, as soon as Doshi put her son in her lap before takeoff, a flight attendant approached and told her Milin needed to be in his own seat. “We were fine with that, but I did ask some questions since our instructions were different on our first flight,” Doshi says. “She said, ‘These are the rules. I’ve been flying for nine years and I do know what I’m talking about.’ She got very defensive very quickly, but when she said that I got him in his seat and was buckling him in.”
Doshi says a second flight attendant approached less than a minute later and gave her the same instructions. “I was a bit irritated and I said, ‘OK, I got it. I got the lecture and I’m putting him in his seat,’” Doshi explains. “She said, ‘First of all, it wasn’t a lecture, and I can turn this plane around.’ I explained that I got the message, and I was focusing on settling my son down, who was now in his seat, but crying.’”
Over the next five minutes, while Doshi focused on calming Milin, she says her husband noticed that the plane was heading toward the gate. “The pilot got on the loudspeaker and said, ‘We are going back to the gate because we have some noncompliant passengers,’” she says. Doshi and her husband hit the call button, trying to understand what was going on, but she says no one would respond. “All of a sudden the captain came and ordered us off the plane. We asked questions, but he wouldn’t answer. He just kept repeating, ‘Get your bags, get off the plane.’ We were treated like criminals.”
JetBlue did not respond to Yahoo Parenting’s request for comment, but in a statement to WUSA, the company said, “We want our customers to have a safe and comfortable experience on board. Safety is always our top priority, and if our crew feels there is a situation where a customer is unable to follow safety procedures, those customers may need to be accommodated on a future flight.”
But Doshi says safety wasn’t the issue, as Milin was seated in accordance with the rules. “I don’t think it had anything to do with safety at all. I think they thought we were being noncompliant, but if they looked they would have seen we were complying. He was in his seat and I was holding him down, and that’s why he was crying,” she says. “I think they were annoyed because they thought I was rude, but I never raised my voice. And there are plenty of people on planes who don’t comply with instructions right away — they don’t turn off their phones or they get up when the ‘Fasten Seatbelt’ light is on — and they don’t get kicked off the plane. I thought it was a completely unreasonable action to take. Maybe they didn’t like that Milin was crying, but he wasn’t dangerous, he wasn’t throwing things or running through the aisle.”
Other passengers on the plane who witnessed the incident tweeted about what they considered the inappropriateness of the airline’s actions. Wrote one passenger, “Hey @JetBlue about 20 of us just witnessed your flight attendants power tripping and throw off @doshspy555 and his family for no good reason.” That passenger followed up with, “The only effect it had (aside from boosting the egos of the attendants) was to make us all late and less enthusiastic about flying @JetBlue.” Another passenger wrote, “The nicest family just got kicked off a plane unnecessarily. Disappointed in @JetBlue.” She added, “They told them to put their son in his seat & they did. JB didn’t like that they questioned them.”
Doshi travels frequently for work and says she’s never seen someone thrown off a plane. “I figured that only happens if a passenger is drunk or unruly or hurting someone,” she says. “It was very humiliating to be marched off the plane like that and have the pilot announce we were noncompliant, which was not true. It was terrible for our kids to experience that and for them to see us so upset.”
Doshi says she believes the airline mistreated her family and unfairly targeted them. “They had no patience for what is a normal situation for a family,” she says. “They had no sensitivity to it and made no effort at all to try to resolve a situation with a squirmy toddler, even though I don’t think it was a situation. The total lack of understanding or patience with our questions to me demonstrates unfair treatment of a family, and I would assume other families are treated the same way.”
The family was able to get on another flight later that day, which Doshi says took off without incident. Still, she says, her 3-year-old daughter was confused as to why she was being kicked off a plane, and was left with one question: “She asked me, ‘Why don’t they like kids?”