Walk Off the Earth singer Sarah Blackwood kicked off U.S. flight over crying son
'My little 2-year-old crying son was a big threat,' says pregnant singer from Burlington, Ont.
Pregnant singer-songwriter Sarah Blackwood from Walk Off the Earth is baffled that she was kicked off a United Airlines flight heading from San Francisco to Vancouver because her toddler wouldn't stop crying.
Now, the Burlington, Ont., singer for the Juno-nominated band is seeking compensation after the incident left her embarrassed.
She tweeted that she had been kicked off United Flight 6223 on Wednesday.
Just got kicked off a <a href="https://twitter.com/united">@united</a> flight because my son was crying really loud. Stayed calm but overall <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Discrimination?src=hash">#Discrimination</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/motherhaters?src=hash">#motherhaters</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/united">@united</a>—@SarahBlackwood1
Blackwood, who is seven months pregnant, was on the flight with her almost two-year-old son, Giorgio, and his nanny. Her son is 23 months old, and is considered an infant by the airline's standards — so he was eligible to sit on her lap free of charge.
Before leaving the gate, her son was tired and "crying really loud and squirming," said Blackwood.
That's when a flight attendant told her: "You have to control your child."
"Apparently my little two-year-old crying son was a big threat," Blackwood said on Twitter.
Apparently my little 2 yr old crying son was a big threat to <a href="https://twitter.com/united">@united</a> UA6223.MY 2 YR OLD!A threat?!?! Kicked us off the plane <a href="https://twitter.com/Discrimination">@discrimination</a>—@SarahBlackwood1
SkyWest Airlines operated the United flight, and said in a statement that the crew made the "difficult decision" based on security concerns.
"Despite numerous requests, the child was not seated, as required by federal regulation to ensure passenger safety, and was repeatedly in the aisle of the aircraft before departure and during taxi," the statement reads.
"While our crews work to make travelling safe and comfortable for all travellers, particularly families, the crew made the appropriate decision to return to the gate in the interest of safety."
Blackwood said her son was not in the aisle, and that she was holding him with her arms and doing what she could to keep him from moving. "I had a window seat, there was a gentleman beside me, there's no way he could have been running around in an aisle, because it was impossible," she said.
"I don't want to cause a scene, ever, it just makes my life harder."
Passenger says crew member 'insensitive'
Blackwood said her son cried for about seven minutes and fell asleep as they were taxiing on the runway. But before takeoff, the plane returned to the gate.
She said the pilot claimed they needed to get more fuel, but when they got to the gate, an airline representative asked her to leave the flight.
"At this point I was in tears, but I just said, 'OK,"' she said.
"I woke my son up, and as I was leaving there were a few passengers that stood up and said, 'This is ridiculous, I can't believe you're doing this to her.'"
"I don't like to make a big deal out of things and I was so embarrassed," she told CBC News. "When I was walking off the plane, I felt like everything was in slow motion."
Many people took to United's Facebook page to denounce the airline's move. Paul William Moore said he was on the flight Wednesday afternoon and was sitting two rows behind Blackwood. He said she was trying her best to keep her son quiet.
"The only person that was not empathetic to the clearly stressful situation was the flight attendant, who warned the mother three times to keep her kid quiet," Moore wrote. "Sure enough, the flight attendant followed through on her warning and had the plane return from taxiing … to the airport."
'Unnecessary and ridiculous'
By that time, Moore wrote, her son was fast asleep.
"We then spent the next 75 minutes while the flight crew escorted the mother and child off the plane and the cargo crew removed all the luggage off the plane in order to find her bags."
"Everyone on that flight was shocked at how unprofessional, unreasonable and insensitive a certain member of your staff acted!"
Blackwood said a United representative arranged for her and her son to get on a later flight, but she would "love compensation of some kind."
"It turned out to be a 12½, 13-hour travel day that should have been a five-hour travel day, and it was totally unnecessary and ridiculous."
With files from The Canadian Press