United Airlines is a hot mess — literally.
The latest nightmare in the string of public-relations nightmares for the company came when an infant overheated on a sweltering United plane during a delay and required hospitalization.
Emily France, the baby’s mom, wants other parents to know what happened on her flight because she was certain her child was going to die.
France and her 4-month-old, Owen, were headed to El Paso from Denver. Passengers had already boarded the plane when the flight was announced as delayed. They were detained on the tarmac for almost two hours as the temperature spiked because of a heat wave.
“They were not equipped to handle it,” France said to the Denver Post. “They couldn’t evacuate us. It was chaos. I really thought my son was going to die in my arms.”
France and Owen were seated in the back of the plane, where hot air was blasting from the vents.
Baby Owen began to show signs of heat distress. Flight attendants hauled garbage bags full of ice to Owen and his mom, who was trying frantically to cool him off with wet wipes.
“We just sat and sat and sat. I hit my call button and said, ‘I think it’s getting dangerously hot back here,'” France said.
The flight attendants allowed France and Owen to leave the aircraft for 20 minutes, but when they re-boarded, France was appalled to find out the flight was delayed once again. She took her baby to the front of the plane, by the open door, and stood there with another mom and her distressed infant. Then Owen took a turn for the worse. “His whole body flashed red and his eyes rolled back in his head and he was screaming,” France said. “And then he went limp in my arms. It was the worst moment of my life.”
We can’t even imagine. And once again we are left wondering why the “friendly skies” have become so unfriendly.
France stated that passengers had to plead for an ambulance on her son’s behalf while the United flight attendants disagreed on whether or not this was a medical emergency. Meanwhile Owen went in and out of consciousness during the 30 minutes it took for the plane to make its way back to the gate.
“They seemed completely unprepared for a medical emergency,” France said. That seems like an understatement considering a baby was losing consciousness on and off for a full half hour with no action.
The current policy of airlines is that a wait of two hours on the tarmac with passengers on board is acceptable. But France thinks the airlines need to assess the weather before applying that rule.
“If the temperature in the plane gets above a certain level, passengers should be taken off immediately,” France said.
We couldn’t agree more — especially when there are kids involved. Airlines, are you listening?
As for Owen? He was treated at a hospital, then released to recover at home. But what happened to him is simply inexcusable.