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Toddler’s Fit Gets Family Get Kicked Off JetBlue Flight

We’ve all been there.  You know, “there”, that place where your toddler loses their mind and you have no where to run.

The worst of all of the “theres” your child can decide to lose their mind is on an airplane.  Whether it’s an infant screaming all the way up to 40,000 feet, or a toddler who refuses to get in their buckles.  As a parent, you are sweating bullets, apologizing up and down the aisles, and wishing that you had a some sort of sedation magic.

family gets kicked off jetblue flights

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As a parent, I find myself much more understanding of others traveling with children.  I’m happy as long as it’s not my kid losing their mind.  Somehow I find it easy now to tune other people’s children out, with a sigh of relief that I’m not the one who has to manage the madness.

The crew of Flight 850 however, was ready to put little Natalie in time out when she threw her fit.

2-year-old Natalie would not sit down for take off, however her parents did finally get her seatbelt fastened and held her in her seat. The Vieau’s were flying back to Rhode Island from Turks and Caicos with their 2-year-old and 3-year-old. According to her mom:

“We were holding them down with all of our might, seat belt on. And I said, ‘We have them seated. Can we go now?’ She said the pilots made a decision to turn the plane around,” Natalie Vieau. “We did what we were asked to do. We weren’t belligerent, drunk, angry or screaming. We were just having a hard time struggling with our children.”

Jet Blue’s Statement:

“Flight 850 … had customers that did not comply with crewmember instructions for a prolonged time period. The Captain elected to remove the customers involved for the safety of all customers and crewmembers on board,”

The family ended up being stranded without other flight options, and incurred another $2,000 in expenses to get home.

I’ve got to think the screaming was pretty bad for a pilot to decide to ground a plane. However, these are toddlers, not terrorists.  What do you think? Should the toddler get the boot? When should a kid get kicked off a JetBlue flight?

Bonus Question:

What’s your worst toddler travel moment?

Our Adventures in Travel on TodaysMama:

Traveling with an Infant

Traveling with a Toddler

Tips for Traveling with Kids



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Comments (12)

  1. Sherry Sheresh 08/06/2012 at 11:45 am

    I can empathize with the crew and other passengers, but I’m a bit perplexed by the parents. The tone of their comments seems to indicate they felt innocent and victimized. Having been a flight attendant for many years, I’ve seen a lot of “meltdowns” and most of them weren’t by children. However, I’ll never forget Max — it’s been over 20 years!. Max was a toddler who absolutely terrorized other passengers. His behavior included standing up on take-off (which necessitated me getting out of my jumpseat and struggling down the sharply pitched aisle to grab him before he was catapulted into the rear galley), throwing cheerios everywhere, screaming at the top of his lungs, popping the balloons of the 6 year-old twins across the aisle, and a surprising number of other shenanigans. Max and his mom finally hit my last reserve of patience when he bit one of the twins. I finally had to threaten to have her arrested on landing for interfering with a flight crew, if she didn’t take control of her son. Who knows if this case was that bad — or worse, but the Captain did the right thing. If parents want to fail in their jobs to raise productive, self-respecting citizens, they must also accept the inevitable consequences. Unfortunately, it sounds like they just want to find someone else to blame. I feel sorry for the children.

  2. Dee 03/12/2012 at 1:42 pm

    I don’t know the specifics, but I feel for the family. Thankfully, my son has always been a great traveler. It’s amazing because he has ADHD, but put him in a moving vehicle and he is as calm as a cucumber! My only scary moment was once this IMPECCABLY dressed woman sat next to me. I did not have a separate seat for my infant son and was sure he would do something horrible. That was until I found out that she was a mom of SIX kids and had lived through it all. She ended up being the best seat mate!

    I also remember being on a plane with parents of twins who screamed almost the entire flight. I ached for those parents. I think there was something developmentally going on with the kids, who looked about 2 or 3. I almost asked if they wanted me to hold one of the kids just to give them a break, but was afraid of embarrassing them further. I know the other passengers were mad, but I was just sympathetic!

  3. Blue 03/09/2012 at 7:31 pm

    Here’s what the internal email said about it:

    “Customers traveling from Turks & Caicos to Boston were asked to deplane and catch the next flight home, because they were not complying with our Crewmembers’ instructions to fasten their seat belt while on an active taxiway.”

    I’m on vacation and this is all I lnow of it, but they would not have had to purchase new tickets…so this 2K in expenses is ????

  4. gj 03/09/2012 at 7:17 pm

    Parents need to prepare for the worst case behaviors. They know their own children best. Sounds like the parents were unprepared. Paid airline passengers shouldn’t have to wait or listen to unruly children. Thank the airlines for taking action, although returning to an airport is undesirable for everyone. Parents, come prepared when you travel with children otherwise everyone pays the price.

  5. Jeifner 03/09/2012 at 4:33 pm

    Fine, they’re off the plane, airline/pilot’s decision. I think the airline’s biggest mistake was not securing another passage home for the family. If they lose the seats they paid for they should be reimbursed or have another option paid for by Jet Blue.

  6. Reticula 03/09/2012 at 12:05 pm

    Who has to struggle with all their might to hold down a 2-year-old? I’m having trouble imagining that.

    In any case, airlines want to sell tickets. They want to fly people around. Lots of families fly; lots of kids throw temper tantrums. If this is an isolated incident of the pilots deciding evict a family, I have to think whatever was going on with those children was outrageous. I trust they made the right decision.

    • Heather B 03/09/2012 at 1:30 pm

      I agree… it’s insane to be kicked off a plane, but I have had both a strong wiled three and strong willed two at the same time, and flown with them…there’s Got to be extenuating circumstances we’ve not heard about. Barring the serving staff losing their jobs or the pilot being insane, which do not sound like they are the case, I can only assume that something is desperately wrong in this family. There had to be extenuating circumstances. Are we talking about children who have a disability of some kind, like being on the autism spectrum, where being restrained would be a severe problem? I loathe all the stuff we have to do on planes in order to fly peacefully, too, but did the parents come totally unprepared? Was there no option of a movie, or music, or a book to read, or a fun new thing to do while the plane took off, or a lollipop? Did the kids have an ear infection or something? It just sounds like the most bizarre story, to me. From the airline statement it sounds like they wouldn’t sit the kids down for a long time…and we ALL know the airlines don’t exactly do things quickly. Did all the other two hundred passengers have to wait for an hour while the two kids wouldn’t sit down? I really get this…I have a child who screams bloody murder every time we sit down to have family prayer and he needs to be still. Because he’s THREE. So….we don’t have him sit perfectly. perfectly comes later. in this case, sitting belted in any fashion while watching UmiZumi had to have been an option. There had to be an earache or teething or something weird going on.

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  8. Jenny 03/09/2012 at 10:42 am

    My husband and I were flying with an infant and an almost two year old to Florid and the entire descent, the second the fasten seat belts sign came on, my daughter screamed ‘I want to get off’ over and over again at top volume until we touched down. It was so awful.

    But I think the worst was when I flew with my 3 children with an ipad just after the very first one was released and I had a sinus infection and my baby had some stomach bug so he kept throwing up all over me and by the end of the flight he was in a diaper and a blanket and I was a buttoned up cardigan with nothing underneath and there was a line of men about 5 deep with questions about the new ipad. Flying with kids is super fun.

  9. Erica Fehrman 03/09/2012 at 9:27 am

    I can see the safety/liability concern on JetBlue’s part, but as the parent of a kid who had a GIGANTIC meltdown on one of our trips (both ways, there and back), my empathy goes out to the parents. Dealing with the kid is hard enough. Going back to Point A to start over and pay more money would send me into the looney bin.

  10. tivogirl 03/09/2012 at 8:39 am

    Ultimately this is a safety issue. The fact they couldn’t keep them secured in their seatbelts for takeoff means the children and other passengers were potentially in danger of injury (or worse) in case of turbulence or just the forces of takeoff itself. Safety must be the crew’s foremost responsibility. Did the screaming probably add to the stress and the decision to remove them? I’m sure it did. But if something were to happen to those kids or other passengers because the parents weren’t able to properly secure them for at least takeoff and landing, that would have been tragic.

  11. Suebob 03/09/2012 at 8:16 am

    It’s hard to know without being there. But I do know one thing: the captain and crew have responsibility and control over everything that happens on the airplane, and their decision is final. I leave it to them, as the experts, to decide what is safe for the passengers.