Crying Child Forces Family From Plane

Jan. 23, 2007 Every parent has dealt with a child having a tantrum and causing embarrassment at the worst times — in a grocery store, in a restaurant, and at weddings.

For a Massachusetts mom and dad, however, their toddler's tantrum cost them their flight home.

On Jan. 14, 3-year-old Elly Kulesza and her parents, Julie and Gerald, were kicked off an AirTran Airways flight from Florida to their Worcester, Mass., home because Elly would not stop crying.

Elly, who had been a model passenger on the flight to Florida four days earlier, began to cry uncontrollably once she got on the plane, throwing a temper tantrum on the floor.

AirTran employees demanded that the Kuleszas calm down their child. When Elly didn't stop crying, the crew banned the Kuleszas from flying for 24 hours. Later, AirTran offered an apology to the family along with a refund on their tickets.

"As we have an obligation to the 112 other passengers onboard the flight to operate the flight on time," AirTran said in a statement, "we had to make an operational decision to ask the Kulesza party to deplane so the flight could depart."

I wouldn't ever fly them again.


Soccer Dad said...

I don't know if it's true but I heard that a family was saved from 9/11 due to a similar incident. A child wouldn't stop crying so they weren't allowed onto the plane. And it was one of the 4 planes that was hijacked.

But I also suspect that Airtran is not the only airline that takes a dim view of hysterical children

Anonymous said...

It's sad, but what else can the airline do? You can't have someone screaming for hours in the middle of a crowd with no way to escape. Our baby cried off and on during a flight to NY way back when and I felt terrible about it. The people next to us were nice though and didn't seem to mind that much. (She wasn't continually screaming however.) People underestimate how serious ear and nose assaults can be while focusing on visual baddies. I'd rather be forced to watch moms blatantly breastfeeding than have to smell some well-dressed lady's awful perfume.

Anonymous said...

I support the airline. Maybe the child is sick or something? It's not fair to anyone to keep the child on the plane--not to the child, the parents, nor the other passengers. They need to figure out what is bothering him, unless there is a very compelling reason for the entire family to be on that particular flight.

But I do support the right of mothers to "blatantly breastfeed" on planes. As Paula points out, you don't have to watch. And breastfeeding generally keeps babies (and toddlers) quiet and content. I find it much less offensive than bad language, say.

JJ said...

I'm a parent, but I, too, have to side with the airline on this one. Really, what else could they have done? This was obviously an extreme case that called for the extreme measure they were forced to take.

Jack Steiner said...


Haven't heard that story before, so I cannot confirm nor deny.


I once flew from New York to Israel with a plane full of screaming kids. It was exceptionally loud.

Anyway, as long as the parents are doing what they can to sooth the child I am usually happy.

Based on what little I know I just don't like how ATA handled it.


Forgive me for the group answer. This should be the biggest problem any of us have.

I have never seen ATA leave on time, so it is hard for me to take their comments seriously. But I wonder how much time they gave the parents to calm the child.

I don't think that they should be given unlimited time to do so, but I still wonder.

In any case there are bigger issues to be concerned about.

Anonymous said...

I see your point.

Anonymous said...

This supports your take on the incident.

Anonymous said...

The airline didn't order them off the plane because the kid was crying or screaming. It was because she was not in her seat, and apparently the parents could or would not pick her up off the floor, put her in the seat and buckle her in.

FAA regulations prohibit a pilot from taking off unless all passengers are seated and belted in. Planes take off all the time with crying or even screaming kids and babies on board - but not with 'em rolling around on the floor. Which Elly was doing. But now her parents get to be the media's "victims of the week" so I guess it's all good for them.

It's amazing the spin the media's put on this story: "crying child ordered off plane." She coulda wailed all day if she'd just been seated and buckled in.

Jack Steiner said...


I see yours as well.

The airline didn't order them off the plane because the kid was crying or screaming. It was because she was not in her seat, and apparently the parents could or would not pick her up off the floor, put her in the seat and buckle her in.

This is a disputed point, at least based on the reports I have read.

But if the child refused to sit in her seat and was too big to sit on a parents lap then I can see why the airline might have asked them to leave.

Since neither of us was on the plane it is impossible to say for certain what happened.

Ultimately safety should take precedence.

One more comment. I spent six hours on a plane with a guy who had the worst gas you could imagine.

After a while I was begging for someone to give me some Vicks Vapor rub or cheap perfume to smear beneath my nose.

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