Posts Tagged ‘air travel security’

throw mama (and junior) from the plane!

June 29, 2008

So have you  heard about the two year old and his Mother that was put off an airplane because the kid was unruly?  Turns out the child suffers from autism and now the media is having a field day exposing the “big, bad airline” as being insensitive towards the mentally handicapped.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think the intention of the pilot was to discriminate against anyone and to suggest such an idea to me is bunk.

The media is a monster.  Somewhere, somehow a long time ago the people behind our news and entertainment realized the public has this insatiable appetite for news, and not necessarily good news.  In fact, most good news is boring.

So they put this spin on things in order to: 1) grab your attention  2) bombard you with their slant on the “story” and 3) assure you that for the most “update and concise” news always look to them first.  It is a jungle out there, folks.  ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, CBC, QRS… TUV  all of these stations plus radio, newspapers, magazines, books and online sources… ALL of them vying for your attention!  So everything has to be sensationalized day after day, 365 days a year. 

I have flown dozens of times over many years, each time it is a little nerve racking.  Though I have gotten to the point of not following along with my safety instructions when the flight attendants go through their review, I am still very much aware of where the exits are and my proximity to them.  Each take off I am silently encouraging the plane that it has “one more trip left in it” even though it is nearly 50 years old and every time we land I want to breath a sigh of relief and shake the pilots hand.

It is stressful to say the least, being couped up in a cylinder that is hurling through the atmosphere at 660 miles per hour with a diversified group of individuals that I will probably never see again though I share the same trepidation that they do.  Always wondering in the back of our minds… “Will we make it?” and imagining the headlines if we don’t.  Did I tell that certain someone that I loved him/her?  Are my dental records up to date if they have to identify me?  Will I scream all the way down?  (I’d hate to face my impending death that way, it’d be so girly)

Anyway, I have experienced crying babies on airplanes numerous times.  Sometimes my ears popping because of the shift in altitude makes me feel like crying, too.  I have sat next to the little closets they call restrooms and had people come out smelling like anything but a rose causing the flavor of my little bag of salted peanuts to change dramatically.  It seems every time I fly there is a problem with the air conditioning or worse, some navigational instrument needs replaced and I thank the powers that be they caught it on the ground rather than in mid-flight. 

I’ve always imagined I was going to get to sit next to some knock out, buxom redhead that had never flown before and needed my strong arm as a life support.  We would pass through the clouds into the sunset and tell each other our life’s story just in case we didn’t get out of this ordeal alive.  We might even steal a kiss or two and promise to keep in touch no matter what the outcome of our (potentially) doomed flight.  I even met a stewardess once that I asked out.  Sadly, I was turned down because she was leaving immediately on a returning flight.  Anyway, what I’ve usually enjoyed is being crammed into the inside seat with an overweight person that smells of too much cologne and bleeds over into my space.  Usually that person reads the latest choice from the Oprah book club, complains about the “snack” offered by the attendant, falls asleep on my shoulder and snores. 

I’ve sat on the tarmac for hours before take off and had people get irritated to the point of having to be calmed down by the pilot.  I have sat and been de-iced then sat so long prior to take off that we had to be de-iced again.   I landed once in Salt Lake City during a snow storm after we circled the airport for nearly an hour and had the pilot come on the intercom and announce, “We’re gonna try it!” and landed to a round of applause from the passengers. 

I’ve flown in those little puddle jumpers and had to sing to my claustrophobic travel partner to keep her from having a panic attack.  I did this so she could laugh at my silliness rather than claw her way out of the hatchway.  Songs like, “Big ol’ jet airliner… don’t take me too far away…” and “Give me a ticket for an airplane… ain’t got time to take a fast train…” loudly enough to be heard over the swirling propellers and groaning engines.  (true story)  I have flown through thunderstorms that could rival a Steven Spielberg movie.

So… adding to the stress level there is a child that is unruly, running up and down the isle screaming at the top of his lungs that is causing the Captain to announce his intention to remove the mother and child so the remainder of us, say 125-150 passengers can ride white knuckled and nauseously care free.  Is this what I signed up for?  No.  Do I want to spend the next 2-3 hours with this kind of behaviour 7 miles above the ground?  No.  Was the airline at fault because the child was autistic and the mother couldn’t control him?  No.  Does this make them insensitive?  Far from it.  They were sensitive to the remaining passengers just as they would have been with an unruly drunk, an overly aggressive leach or a scantily clad female (that one outraged me, I doubt anyone’s safety and/or comfort were in jeopardy because of exposed cleavage and/or a short skirt… see paragraph eight above)  on board.

Not to say I don’t have empathy for the Mother.  No doubt it embarrassed her to be singled out the way she was.  Could the child have been medicated?  Had he ever flown before?  Was there an alternative method of travel?  All these questions come to mind but the real rub is this…

When it comes to being in public; whether in restaurants, or parks, or theatres, or the beach, or on airplanes… sensitivity should be measured with common sense.  The public in general should not have to be subjected to the “right” of an individual if it creates discord amongst the masses.  The comfort and security of the flight depended on the care, custody and control of the flight personnel. 

They did the right thing.