My experience with almost getting kicked off a plane for slinging my son
Originally Posted by jessjgh1
AND if there is actually policy on this then I'd like to know about it.
Photo - http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v7...e/DSC03056.jpg
See that carrier I'm wearing? I called 1-800-I FLY SWA about a week and a half before we left to check on two things... their breastfeeding policy (Thank you, Barbara Walters) and whether or not I could wear Robert for take-off and landing. In *an LJ community* a few months ago, someone posted about how they were told that they couldn't wear their baby on take off and landing because of some FAA regulation, and a bunch of other responded with they were allowed to. We were advised to check with our particular air carrier before planning to sling or not to sling. The nice woman on the phone had to put me on hold a few times to check with supervisors and guide books, but I was told that wearing him in either this carrier or my sling is allowed. We both talked about how it's much safer than holding him because it is a form of restraint, etc.
We had two take-offs (and, obviously, two landings) from Omaha to Tampa. I wore Robert in my sling for the first take off and then in this carrier for the rest. We had a great group of flight attendants and they said nothing to us. So I didn't think anything of it.
Fast forward to coming home. Now, I HATE this carrier. The only benefit of it is that Robert can look around, but it's not that comfy to me and his head bounces around if I have to do more than stroll. So the only reason I brought it was for the airplane. As we're getting on the plane, Bonnie (the evil stewardess) smiles at Robert in the carrier, even stops and talks to him and tickles his feet. Sweet =) We pre-boarded with an infant, so we were the first people on the plane, and we were on that plane for about 20 minutes before it started pulling back from the gate.
As we're rolling through the airport to get to our taxi-way, another stewardess comes up to me and tells me that I have to remove the carrier. I told her that I called ahead of time and was told that I could wear it and that I wasn't told to remove it on the flights out here. She said okay and walked up to Bonnie and told her. Bonnie came over to me and told me that I had to remove it. I repeated myself. She told me it was against FAA regulations for me to be wearing that on take off and landings. I told her that was specifically what I asked about at their toll-free number. She told me the people who work there "don't know anything." I told her I would not be removing the sling. She started getting a little louder so that others around could hear her, "So you're saying that you're unwilling to comply with FAA regulations?" I said, "No, I'm saying that I'm going to do exactly what your airline told me I could do." She repeated, "So you're saying that you're unwilling to comply with FAA regulations?" I repeated that I wasn't, that this was safer. She said that I can't wear it for take-off or landing but I can wear it once we're in the air, because if we would need to evacuate in an emergency the straps could get caught. I asked what I was supposed to do with my child in that event, let him go so he can fall? She repeated the crap about me not being willing to comply with FAA regulations.
At this time, I'm panicking. I'm picturing myself in prison for terrorism in TAMPA - where only Geof's grandparents can come and taunt me without my child. I started taking it off and told her that I needed her name because I would be complaining to SWA. She said she'd bring back her name and employee ID. I was shaking. I was holding Robert so hard that I was afraid I would break his ribs - but I was more afraid that he would drop if I didn't hold on to him. Geof tried to comfort me and I pushed him away (I apologized later). She brought the paper back to me and I ripped it out of her hands and stuffed it in the diaper bag.
When I calmed down a little, I felt bad for ripping that out of her hand so rudely, so when she came by to get our drink order, I said, "I still don't agree with you, but that was no reason for me to be rude. I'm sorry." She tried to tell me that it's all about safety and we "debated" that back and forth (If you get caught, you'll be stuck on an airplane that most likely, let's face it, about to explode. If I drop him, his skull would smash and he could die. But the slide is inflatable. But the asphalt at the bottom isn't. I wasn't told to remove it on the other flight. I have kids - they didn't - they don't care as much for your child as I do.)
Thankfully, we changed planes in Chicago and had a much more peaceful flight home. I didn't try the carrier again except for when we were taxiing into the Omaha airport and we needed to get him off the plane. But you can believe that I'll be writing to SWA about her behavior and her claims that the CSAs are incompetent and that the other flight attendants don't care for children (She didn't even know who they were - how did she know they didn't have kids?)
I'm also going to make the suggestion that, if they're so worried about the straps of my carrier getting me stuck on the plane, that they make sure no one is allowed to wear suspenders, belts, shoelaces, drawstrings or bras on the plane either - those could all cause a snag hazard on the emergency slide as well. I'm also going to suggest that if they're going to make parents take these carriers off, they might want to say something when we're boarding the plane rather than when the plane is pulling away from the gate.
(I'm ashamed to say that I never got the letter out to Southwest - life with a now-mobile baby when we got home had me putting it off for a better opportunity. It has been almost a year now, so I'm not sure if I should even bother still contacting them about it - but I still have the little paper with her employee number in the end-table drawer next to where I sit right now...)