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Tantrum cuts trip short

The Boston Globe covered an interesting story. Apparently, AirTran booted a family after their 3-year old threw a temper tantrum and refused to sit in her seat before the flight took off. The parents asked if the child could sit in a lap, but the flight attendants wouldn’t allow it. Instead, they removed them from the plane.

I can actually see this from both sides — sort of. I have an almost-3-year-old who has occasionally been known to pitch massive temper tantrums at disadvantageous times. My husband read the story and said, “I think we’re lucky that wasn’t us.”  But, if a child is totally out of control, is it fair to hold up a whole plane full of people? In this situation, though, the child’s mother said the flight attendants really didn’t give them an opportunity to soothe their daughter.

According to the article, AirTran did compensate the family for the whole situation, which seems to be an admission of wrongdoing. If an airline is going to accommodate families, they need to train their flight crews to handle the challenges of traveling toddlers. It is really annoying to listen to a child screaming for hours during a flight. You’re in close quarters and there isn’t much you can do to get away from the sound. But having been on both sides of the situation, I can say with absolute certainty that it is exponentially worse to be the parent, mortified, sweaty, cramped and exhausted from trying to comfort an inconsolable and irrational toddler.

As an aside, from personal experience, I know that takeoff and landing are the hardest parts of a flight, especially because the DVD player needs to be off. So if you’re traveling with a tantrum-prone toddler, I’d recommend having something special in your carry-on bag that you can pull out once the plane leaves the gate. A couple of packages of stickers, some finger puppets, a book, it doesn’t really matter, especially if you have it gift wrapped. Everyone loves unwrapping a present.

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