The skies haven’t been so friendly to 39-year-old Melissa Bradley lately. Last month, the mother of four was nearly booted off a Sky West flight from Aspen after a flight attendant told her she couldn’t use a rear-facing car seat for her baby during takeoff. Bradley argued that the car seat was Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved precisely to be rear-facing, but the flight attendant was unsympathetic and, apparently, misinformed and told her the choice was to either hold her baby during takeoff or exit the plane before departure. Ultimately, United, who partners with Sky West, apologized to Bradley and said the flight attendant in question operated improperly and was spoken to about the incident.
The FAA has long maintained that children under two-years-old are safer being buckled into a seat rather than held in a lap, but they have thus far declined to make it mandatory for seats to be purchased for infants. Bradley, however, claims that she’s worried about what will happen to her kids if there’s turbulence and she’s not able to hold them properly in her lap, which is why she’s voluntarily chosen to purchase seats for them at every age.
Well, as luck would have it, Bradley says she encountered another child seat problem, and this time she was actually forced off the plane. On a United flight from San Francisco to Honolulu on Wednesday, Bradley and her travel companions were taken off their flight because the airline crew said she was causing a disruption by taking pictures. The row of seats to which Bradley was assigned was too narrow to accommodate a car seat for her 1-year-old, Bradley said, and she wanted to document the airline seats in question for an FAA inspector to whom she had spoken after the Aspen incident. Bradley denied being disruptive.
While United agrees the row was too narrow for the car seat, the wider rows on the plane were already occupied. Bradley and her family were escorted from the plane and re-booked on a later flight with rows wide enough to accommodate everyone and everything.
As a mom who waited until her daughter was exactly two to purchase an airline seat for her (out of economic necessity), I appreciate that Bradley has the means to ensure her children’s safety, and I would have been livid if I encountered any resistance from airline crews about doing whatever is necessary to protect my children, particularly if their arguments were born out of ignorance of their own regulations.
On the other hand, after two incidents in less than a month, I might also think about some places to vacation that didn’t necessitate flying. At least for a little while, or until my kid turned two.
Image: Morgue File
Source: The Associated Press