United Airlines aren't exactly uniting people lately, are they? First they kicked off a teen with autism and her family. Now they managed to kick off a pregnant mom travelling with a toddler - a Canadian mom who also happens to front an award-winning band, Walk off the Earth.
Initial reports cited that Sarah Blackwood was told to disembark because her 23 month-old son Giorgio was crying and squirming. The attendant was overheard repeatedly telling Blackwood to keep her kid quiet ('cause of course it's that simple).
But what really happened on that fateful flight?
As the saying goes, there are three sides of the story and the truth lies somewhere in between the 'he said, she said.'
For their part, United claims a safety concern was the reason Blackwood and her nanny were removed from the aircraft. Blackwood later recorded a conversation (listen below) with staff claiming she was told - and refused - to fasten the seatbelt around her infant.
In any case, by the time the plane was moving and Blackwood was told to leave, Giorgio was asleep on his mom's lap. A further hour passed as the crew removed her family's luggage.
Someone, somewhere got it very wrong, and a lot of backtracking is now going on. Does United truly not know its own policy? Was the crying a contributing factor in the decision to kick Blackwood off the flight?
The takeaway here: some airlines desperately need to up their game in terms of sensitivity training.
Travellers, do your homework before you travel, and choose your airline wisely. They are not created equal, and they are not all shit-shows. Some actually do give great customer service (hello WestJet).
We often go for the cheapest ticket or the most convenient times when booking, but what about the most child-friendly service? Time to rethink our priorities.
How about a Feel Good Airline Story?