Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Does This Apply...

...When Flying to Israel?

Child's tantrum gets family tossed off plane

ORLANDO - (AP) -- Flight attendants often deal with obnoxious passengers who won't listen to instructions by kicking them off the plane. But a Massachusetts couple think AirTran Airways went overboard by treating their crying 3-year-old daughter in much the same way.

Julie and Gerry Kulesza and daughter Elly were removed from the flight when the girl refused to take her seat before takeoff, airline officials said today. But her parents said they just needed a little more time to calm her down.

The Kuleszas planned to fly home to Boston on Jan. 14 from Fort Myers after a four-day visit with the girl's paternal grandparents. She was removed because ''she was climbing under the seat and hitting the parents and wouldn't get in her seat'' during boarding, AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver said.

AirTran officials say they were only following Federal Aviation Administration rules that children age 2 and above must have their own seat and be wearing a seatbelt upon takeoff.

''The flight was already delayed 15 minutes and in fairness to the other 112 passengers on the plane, the crew made an operational decision to remove the family,'' Graham-Weaver said.

But Julie Kulesza said: ``We weren't given an opportunity to hold her, console her or anything.''

''Elly was sitting in front of our seat crying,'' she said in a phone interview. ``The attendant motioned to a seat and asked if we purchased it for her.''

They had paid for the seat. Gerry Kulesza said another attendant then approached the family and told him: ``You need to get her in control and in her seat.''

The couple told the attendants they were trying. Julie Kulesza said she asked the attendants if Elly could sit on her lap, but they said no.

The family flew home the next day.

The Orlando-based carrier reimbursed the family $595.80, the cost of the three tickets, and offered them three roundtrip tickets anywhere the airline flies, Graham-Weaver said.

But that's too little, too late for the Kuleszas. The father said they would never fly AirTran again.

The one time I traveled to Israel, I flew via KLM, and I don't remember crying/yelling children on board. But the stories I've heard re. El Al and other U.S. airlines flying to Israel...probably ought to get more than one family kicked off a plane -- and not necessarily reimbursed for their troubles, either!