There used to be a time when flying the friendly skies was, well, friendly. But now you can barely make eye contact with an airport or airline staffer — whether it be at the ticket counter, customs, gate or with a flight attendant — out of fear that saying or doing or wearing the wrong thing will get you booted from a flight. In fact, an entire family was recently kicked off their flight for a questionable reason.
After Mei Rui, a mother from Houston, boarded a Spirit Airlines flight, she tried to breastfeed her two-year-old son to put him to sleep for the journey. Rui’s hope was that her son would fall asleep by the time the airplane door closed, she told The Washington Post.
A flight attendant quickly approached her, telling her to strap in her baby. Rui asked for a couple more minutes so he could finish because she knew if he woke up, he’d make a fuss. “I promise I’ll finish before you close the plane’s door,'” she recalled saying.
Rui then saw that flight attendants were talking about her at the front of the plane so she stopped breastfeeding, strapped her son in and, as predicted, he started to cry. That’s when she was approached and told that she and her family would have to deboard. She refused so Spirit made the entire plane disembark, then reboard. That was when she was told that she, her son and parents would not be allowed back on the plane.
Another passenger, who saw the ordeal unfold, called it “disgusting.” Rui was also able to get most of the altercation on her phone, including being confronted by a wall of airport security at the gate outside of the plane. She asked for an explanation and the airline representative told her, “Because you were not compliant.” When Rui asked what instruction she didn’t listen to, the rep refused to give more details.
And when Rui said, “If this happened to your family,” the rep cut her off, saying, “It wouldn’t happen to my family, I can assure you.”
And things only got worse. The family waited an hour for their luggage, but it never came. Then, on the ride home, Rui’s father collapsed and had to be rushed to the emergency room.
In case you were wondering, Rui, a concert pianist and cancer researcher, was trying to travel from Houston to New York to participate in a cancer study. Because good people can no longer get to where they need to go.
As for the shadiness and crap treatment she received from Spirit, the airline stood by the decision of the flight crew.
“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,” read a statement to Houston’s KHOU. “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. We apologize for any inconvenience to our guests. As a courtesy, we’ve issued a full refund to the passenger in question.”
Since Rui seemed very compliant, it seems like she really got kicked off for breastfeeding her son. Because, you know, BOOBS. Look, no one likes a crying baby on a flight — especially their parents — but if a breast or a bottle is going to quiet him or her, you bust it out. Let’s call a spade a spade though. We’d hazard a guess that compliance wasn’t the real issue here.