We know that grown-ups can get kicked off planes for being drunk, belligerent, or otherwise offensive. But have you heard the one about the 19-month-old chatty cherub who got booted off a flight for saying "bye-bye"?
While it always makes headlines, getting kicked off a flight is actually extremely rare. There are typically fewer than 150 unruly passengers booted from planes annually, compared to the 850 million passengers that fly each year on domestic airlines. The number of instances involving kids is even more minuscule. Still, nobody flying with kids wants to be that statistic.
Note that all of the situations highlighted below took place before takeoff, when planes were still on the ground. This is the time when the flight crew review safety instructions and make sure all passengers comply with FAA safety recommendations and regulations.
One important takeaway is that airline staff have complete decision-making power about whether to lower the boom. It never pays to argue with a pilot or flight attendant who may be having a bad day. With this in mind, here are four ways a child's behavior can get a family kicked off a plane.
Refusing to Remain Buckled In
This is the biggie. All commercial airlines have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to not wearing a seatbelt. In 2015, a 3-year-old boy refused to wear a seatbelt prior to takeoff. After holding up the flight for a half an hour, the Cathay Pacific flight crew kicked the family off the plane, which was heading from Bangkok to Hong Kong. [via Daily Mail]
In 2012, a 2-year-old girl threw a tantrum before takeoff and wouldn’t settle in order to be seatbelted. After more than five minutes of non-compliance, the JetBlue flight crew decided to remove the girl's family from the plane. When the TODAY Show ran a viewer poll for this story, 71 percent of respondents sided with the airline. [via TODAY Show]
Also in 2012, a 3-year-old boy refused to sit upright and stay buckled in his seatbelt before takeoff on an Alaskan Airlines flight from Seattle to Miami, which was enough to get his family removed from the flight. [via Time Magazine]
Not Staying Seated
In 2015, a family was kicked off a US Airways flight when a 17-month-old toddler seated on his mother's lap wouldn't settle down during pre-flight taxiing and swung his legs into the aisle. [via WSOCTV]
In 2013, a mom was traveling on US Airways with her two sons, ages 3 and 1. After being instructed to move with her sons to a different row, she was busy installing their car seats when her baby started crying. After another passenger picked up the child and he still wouldn't stop crying, the flight crew told the family to exit the plane. [via Consumerist]
Being a Chatterbox
In 2007, a 19-month-old toddler pointed out his window and repeated the phrase "bye-bye plane" before takeoff. Apparently, that was too much for one Continental ExpressJet flight attendant to take.
She told his mother to "shut the baby up" and suggested giving him Baby Benadryl to make him fall asleep. An argument ensued and as they taxied back to the gate, the unmedicated baby fell asleep before he and his mom were removed from the plane. [via ABCNews]
Need further proof that the airline staff has the last word? Check out how one disgruntled dad's pre-flight tweet got his family removed from a Southwest Airline flight.