Flying with a toddler is hard enough, but one woman says her family was kicked off their flight for a surprising reason: breastfeeding.
Mom Mei Rui, a Houston cancer researcher, was flying to New York last week to participate in a cancer research study. But before the plane took off, she says her entire family was removed from the Spirit Airlines flight. Their reason? She was breastfeeding her child after flight attendants asked her to put the child in his seat.
Rui says she was willing to put the toddler in his seat; she just requested a few minutes to finish breastfeeding him. When flight attendants refused her request, cellphone footage captured the toddler in his seat crying loudly when they were asked to leave the plane. (Nothing says happy flight like forcing a toddler to interrupt his meal!)
"You just don't have to treat people that way. He was making very loud noises, but that's not criminal," Rui told CBS affiliate KHOU. At the time they were asked to leave, the little boy was seated as the flight attendants had requested.
Spirit Airlines issued a statement supporting its flight attendants' decision to remove the family from the flight. "Our records indicate a passenger was removed from Flight 712 after refusing to comply with crew instructions several times during taxi to runway and safety briefing," the statement said. "To protect the safety of our guests and crew, FAA regulations and airline policies require all passengers to stay seated and buckled during takeoff and landing."
Rui received a full refund but told KHOU that she won't be flying with Spirit Airlines again.
"It was humiliating to be chased off a plane in front of hundreds of people. We had never been through anything close to this," Rui told KHOU. "We're not lawbreakers or trouble seekers. We're the elderly, a baby and his mother, why did they have to treat us this way?"
Of course, safety is important. But it's hard to argue that letting the toddler finish his meal while taxiing presented much of a risk to anyone's safety. Flying with a toddler is stressful enough; a little understanding goes a long way.