There was an article in Yahoo news yesterday about how a family was kicked off an Air Tran flight last week because their three-year-old daughter had a major temper tantrum. Apparently the little diva didn't want to sit in her sit and wear her seatbelt during takeoff. She was screaming nonstop, crawling under the seats, hitting her parents, and generally raising a ruckus. The child's antics delayed the flight for 15 minutes and 112 passengers had to sit through this.
According to the article, the parents said "they just needed a little more time to calm their daughter" and then later whined to the press, "We weren't given an opportunity to hold her, console her or anything." [Jen's note: Bullshit. 15 minutes is ample time to have a "come to Jesus" talk with your child and make her understand what is expected of her. Even at age 3.]
Air Tran officials reimbursed the family for their three tickets and also offered them three free roundtrip tickets anywhere the carrier flies. The father has said his family will never fly Air Tran again. I'm so glad, because my family loves to fly Air Tran and it's nice to know we'll never have to witness such poor parenting and such an excellent example of preschool tyranny.
I actually know exactly how those 112 passengers felt, because on that very same weekend, my family flew to Orlando on an Air Tran flight. Sitting behind us was a mother and her three-year-old daughter and, across the aisle from them were the father and two older brothers. I had already noticed this family at the boarding gate, as it was clear to me that this little girl was the princess of the family and one who always got her way. The flight was pretty peaceful until, just before landing, the parents switched seats so that the father was sitting with the girl. The little girl started wailing for "Mama" very loudly, over and over over... Instead of changing seats back to the original way or distracting the child, the parents opted to ignore her. Actually, Mom ignored the child, Dad tried the type of parenting normally seen on Jerry Springer. You know the kind, hissing at the little girl to be quiet. Telling her to stop crying or he'd give her something to cry about. My favorite was when he forcefully shoved her back in her seat, yanked her seatbelt super tight, and told her to shut up. Elegant Daughter was sitting next to me, peeking back between the seats, utterly fascinated by what was going on. This went on for the entire landing process -- so, about 25 minutes. I was ready to smack the shit out of the father and the mother for being such idiots.
Seriously though, what kind of adults can't control a toddler's behavior? Okay, maybe not control, but what about shortening the duration of the tantrum? That's easy enough to do. I have NEVER EVER had one of my children misbehave on a flight, even when they were toddlers, as they knew they'd face the Wrath of Mommy if they ever tried anything like that. Granted, the toddler mentioned in yesterday's article was probably an exhausted three-year-old who had been dragged through hell and all of Disney. (And why in the hell do parents think Disney is a good place to take preschoolers? It's much better with older kidlets.) What the parents should have done is actually put a little thought into their travel plans and then prepared accordingly. Pack some stickers, new little toys, and even a bag of M&Ms. Buy a juice box in the airport terminal. Be prepared to have to actually parent a little bit on the plane, instead of reading the inflight magazine or plugging in your iPod. Distract the child back into a good mood. Be the adult, okay?
Whew, I feel much better now. :-)