Erin Gatling and her family were flying Southwest yesterday. Southwest has an unusual procedure where they sell many ‘direct’ flights with a connection. The plane stops and if you’re continuing to the next city you stay on the aircraft while everyone else gets off. Flight attendants take a count, and then you can either stay onboard or get off if you wish.
Ms. Gatling says that during their connection her family was kicked off, and told they wouldn’t be able to continue on the next segment of the flight.
Southwest flight attendants apparently explained that her kids ‘were being a disturbance’ but she doesn’t see it that way. These are not inexperienced travelers. She reports that,
- Her 3.5 year old child has taken 70 flights.
- Her 16 month old has taken 30 flights.
- They fly mostly on Southwest, so they know the drill.
She says her kids “did not cry or scream at all during the flight” and that no one would explain what “being a disturbance” — the reason given for being kicked off the flight — even means.
The airline did tell her that her kids were “running up and down the isle and jumping on tray tables.” So that could be it, right?
In her version their tray tables were never open so her kids couldn’t have jumped on them. And the only time they were up in the aisle is when she took her 3.5 year old to the lavatory. They were sitting in the back of the plane, just a few rows from the lav. And when they finished up, her 16 month old walked the 3-5 rows back to meet her.
I went to grab her and an attendant stepped between me and her, literally stepping on my foot. I said ‘excuse me mam, you just stepped on my foot’ and then shrugged it off as I reached around the attendant and picked her up and went to our seats. We never got up again. What the heck is happening?
Here they are broadcasting last night on Facebook live:
Southwest is usually considered a pretty family-friendly airline. I reached out to Southwest to see if they would share their version of the story. Here’s their response,
In addition to providing Legendary Customer Service to each Customer onboard, our Flight Attendants are responsible for enforcing regulations as well as our policies to ensure the Safety of those traveling with us.
Our reports indicate Customers traveling onboard flight 102 were not following inflight instructions. A Southwest Supervisor met the Customers upon arrival at their connecting city, Chicago, to discuss the events that occurred onboard. The Customers were unwilling to be approached by our Employees in the airport and when the situation escalated, local authorities became involved.
We made the decision to issue a refund to the Customers based on the reaction to our attempts to discuss safe travel to their final destination. The safety and wellbeing of our Customers and Employees is of the utmost importance to all of us at Southwest Airlines, and we are disheartened by the way this situation unfolded.
(HT: Scott T.)