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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Boycott Continental Airlines; they can't handle children

This is a hot button topic for me, so hold on tight.

First you should watch this story via Breitbart. In summary, the story is out of Atlanta, Georgia about how a two year old was chatting away (as two year olds do) and said, "Bye, bye plane". The airline stewardess apparently didn't like the little boy, or something to that effect. She further insisted that the mother use "Baby Benadryl" to keep her child quiet. When the mother refused to drug her child, the airline stewardess had the captain turn the plane around and they kicked the mother and child off the plane.

Seem ridiculous? It is. But there is more.

My family is planning a little travel vacation that will require some East Coast air travel. So the story is important to me as I begin to evaluate which airlines are "child-friendly" and which are not. The last thing I would want is to be turned around on my vacation, embarrassed, and upset because an airline can't handle the babblings of a two year old.

After reading this story, I decided to do a little digging on my own. After all, there are two sides to most every story. So I scanned for more information and pretty much determined that there wasn't anything out of the ordinary about the child's behavior (meaning he wasn't screaming, or leaving his seat or other types of violations) and I validated as far as I could from news stories, interviews, and the rest to warrant some additional concern about the drastic decision taken by Continental's flight staff.

I actually called Continental Airlines to find out what there policy is. I did so in a polite manner - after all, if I can determine that one airline isn't tolerant of children, then I will simply not include that airline in my price comparison search. Simple enough, right?

First, the customer service representative was apparently unaware of the matter. So its interesting to know that Continental Airline representatives are unaware of National Headline stories involving their airline.

Second, I told him what had happened and he tried to push the story off to something that happened four months ago. I explained the timing of the incident and advised him that I'm trying to understand the policy.

He was actually quite rude about the whole thing. He chalked it up to the notion that if the "airline stewardess felt uncomfortable then she has the right to request the plane be turned around." I tried to get the Continental Airlines customer service rep to comprehend the severity of the action taken simply because a child was talking. He wouldn't budge his position and said its related to homeland security. I don't see that a babbling child is a threat to homeland security but I proceeded on the issue.

He became further rude by trying to tell me that this was a reservation line and asked if I was going to make a reservation. I corrected him by telling him that I navigated to this line as it was an option for customer service - "questions, complaints, etc". Clearly, he wasn't capable of handling himself on behalf of Continental. He further asked, "what guarantees are you looking for?" I said, I wasn't looking for a guarantee, I just wanted to make sure that since I have two small children that Continental Airlines would be tolerant of their behavior and we wouldn't end up in the same situation as the lady from Georgia.

He wouldn't budge. He wouldn't offer any comments assuring me that children are welcome on Continental Airlines' planes. He didn't even encourage me to disregard the story and tell me "not worry about it."

No. Instead he cemented in my mind that Continental Airlines simply isn't tolerant of children. They have extreme expectations of parents and children, and will turn the plane around if anyone is one iota out of compliance.

So, after this wonderful discussion. I thanked the Customer Service rep and decided to write this story. My view is that until Continental Airlines can learn to deal with children as passengers - parents and families should avoid traveling with them.

Moreover, the notion of drugging a child to keep them quiet (and this was pretty much in terms of a threat - since the mom's decision not to, lead Continental to turn the plane around) should result in the immediate termination of not only the stewardess, but the entire flight crew. I'm quite sure the captain was aware of what was going on, and as the chief officer, he is responsible for the behavior of his crew. Furthermore, there have other stories published on the Internet regarding nearly exactly the same story - suggested drugging of a child by Continental staff - perhaps its the same one, or perhaps its a Continental Airlines training policy. I'm not sure which. Whatever it is -- its beyond unacceptable.

I would also like to suggest, that earlier this year, my year and half old daughter flew with us on American Airlines. American Airlines staff were more than accommodating and wonderful, they encircled my daughter, talked to her, and made her feel as comfortable as possible.

Perhaps Continental should take a lesson from the staff of American Airlines, in terms of customer service and how to treat families with children.

Until Continental Airlines gets their act together, I suggest that families avoid them at all costs. Clearly, they have a lot to learn in so many categories.


Anonymous said...

Flight crew of CA are certainly rude! Too bad CA can't hire personnel that is not only qualified for doing their jobs, but that have friendly personalities too. I posted my experience online and was met with many replies that implied the FA did nothing wrong. But she did choose to be rude with me which is why I filed a complaint. Don’t post any airline complaints in the airline section at If you do, you will be met with many replies from CA employees!

Anonymous said...

Rude is correct....even more so online. Found this at YouTube: