Kids' airplane behavior under more scrutiny

When can a 2-year-old girl stop an airplane? When she throws such a huge tantrum before takeoff the pilot and his crew are forced to turn the plane around and boot the family from the flight. Was the airline in the right, or did they encroach on this family's right to fly?

Natalie Vieau, all of 2 years old, single-handedly got her family kicked off a JetBlue flight when she threw a huge tantrum and refused to stay seated and buckled, despite her parents' best efforts. Flying with children is always a touchy subject, particularly if other passengers aren't parents themselves, but when does a little one actually become a flight risk?

Failure to comply

All airlines have rules. Before an airplane takes off, the flight crew will often stand at various points throughout the cabin and either recite the rules and demonstrate safety equipment or play a recording with the same information. Universally, however, all passengers must be seated with their chair backs in an upright position and their belts fastened. Planes will usually not take off until everyone complies, and if they do not, they are removed from the flight.

Parents are in the unique position of taking care of not only themselves but the little ones in their charge. Rules are rules, and in the wake of heightened airline security for the last decade or so, they are even more stringently applied. Any failure to comply will have you in the unenviable position of being removed from the plane and scrambling to find another flight to fit your needs.

Toddlers do tantrum

Parents who board a plane with a baby or small child are often frowned upon, and if those negative expectations are met, they are then demonized, silently or not. Parents and families do have a right to fly on a plane, just as much as business travelers, but the cozy confines of an airplane can make even the most easygoing passenger a bit on edge. Couple that with a crying infant or a screaming toddler and the skies aren't too friendly any more, for anyone involved.

"I wonder how much time the crew really gave the parents to get their child settled down," said Julie from New Mexico. "The airline may have been in the right but it seems that flying in general has become less kid-friendly than it has been in the past."

Take a hike

Other moms we asked felt JetBlue made the right decision. "I agree with the pilot's decision 100 percent," said Brittney, mom of one. "If you can't control your child, that isn't everyone else's problem. Everyone knows that toddlers are bound to have tantrums in high-stress situations, but in this case, that tantrum was affecting her safety and breaking the airline's rules. If you can't trust that your kid will stay buckled, bring a car seat."

Jo, mom of two, agreed. "This is exactly why I always brought a car seat until they were 4," she told us.

JetBlue backed the pilot's decision, but parents take note -- obey the rules and ensure your children do too, and if not, you may lose your seats.

Tell Us

Do you agree with the pilot's decision? Was JetBlue right to stand behind this?

More on toddlers and tantrums

How to deal with toddler tantrums
5 Fast ways to stop a tantrum
7 Tips to stop temper tantrums in public

Tags: airplane

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Comments on "Toddler tantrum forces airplane turnaround"

Anne March 11, 2012 | 5:18 PM

I think there's a difference between "judging" and "evaluating" when it comes to looking at situations. A judgmental attitude toward this would sound something like, "I can't believe how ridiculous the parents are here that they'd be held hostage by a screaming 2 year old..." An evaluative attitude, on the other hand says, "Airlines are held responsible for the safety of all passengers and have federal rules they simply must abide by. This family failed to comply-- 2 year old or not-- and the airline was correct in removing them so the hundreds of other passengers could continue with a flight that they paid for." My heart does go out to the family, as this has to be terribly embarrassing. But they do a disservice to their daughter by playing the victim role. This could be turned into a huge teaching moment, and I hope they won't miss that.

Lisa March 11, 2012 | 1:36 PM

1st off to the writer of this story. ""Was the airline in the right, or did they encroach on this family's right to fly?"" Flying is not a right. It is a privilege. That's like saying everyone has a right to drive. I am a mother of 4 all between 2 and 12. The problem with parents these days are they are afraid of there children and don't make them behave. I have NEVER had issues with any of my children on flights. Why you may ask? I make them behave. My children know what they are aloud and not aloud to do. Having a hissy fit on a flight is NOT a option. If more parents would take control and be a parent 1st and not try to be there friend. I grew up knowing my limits and boundaries and was glad to have them.

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