Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rebel with a Cause- Best Case Scenario, Can you Help?


After reading all your responses, I realized that this situation with Delta is bigger than my lone experience.
I want to discern my ultimate goal/what would correct everything. Of course, we'd all love to have free flights the rest of our lives and for the delta attendant (whom somebody nicknamed Cruella the Attendant!) to make a public apology for the way she has treated myself and others on the plane.

But this isn't really about just my situation.  It's about much more. 
Women (and men) who are traveling with small children need more positive attention and consideration on Delta's flights (and by all airlines).  At best, we're given sympathy inflight, maybe an extra bottle of water. But let's be honest-mostly we're viewed as a nuisance and maybe a little nutty for attempting to travel with kids (well, the latter part might be true!).

So I need your help. What would make flying on Delta's or any other airline more comfortable for you and your baby/toddler?  How can we make my experience a reason to reduce some stress we carry inflight.  Is this a policy issue?  Is it a training issue?  Do we need to update how to properly hold a baby on the plane?  Do we need to educate them on the benefits wearing a baby on the plane or be educated ourselves? Do attendants have the right to call the police on ANYONE according to their discretion and publicly humiliate/scare young children b/c I was escorted off the plane? 

I really believe I/we have the opportunity for Delta to make things better for us and only have a small window for it to happen.  A Delta Rep called me last night (missed the call) and they're calling me back today.  I'd like to feel prepared using all of our experiences to "make things right."  I believe this is worth it and truly believe we're all in this together!

Your thoughts?


(Photo courtesy of holistickid.com)
Jen Starks, Owner www.ecologicalbabies.com ecologicalbabies@gmail.com 850.284.5887

15 comments:

BParrish said...

Re-education for employees and to produce a booklet for employees on the challenges of traveling with infants and small children--how to make things easier and safer for the families. Even lending a hand with strollers, car seats, tips for taking off, etc. They especially need to understand breastfeeding laws and the physiology of nursing on take-off, demand feeding, attachment/baby wraps, you name it!

Gretchen said...

The biggest thing Airlines can do is bring back the early boarding for parents/guardians traveling with children.

It would be nice to get settled in, get the car seats strapped in(if you're bring them). It might also be beneficial if two parents are traveling if at least one parent can early board to get everything set up - then the other parent can run the kids around and tire them out before the flight.

Allow this early boarding will take the stress off parents, trying to get their kids settled, without holding up other passengers.

Jennifer Conklin said...

I think that parents do need to be informed ofwhat the rules and regs are when flying with small children. Maybe a flyer could be presented with your boarding pass outlining what is required of parents. The flight attendant you encountered was extremely rude and I know from personal experience, you don't want that to happen to other parents. This woman was extremely aggressive and you experienced the highest degree of bullying by being escorted off the plane when it landed. Did you have the opportunity to speak to the captain at all? You were obviously in compliance with the regulations or you would be sitting on top of a big fine or in a jail cell right now. This attendant was clearly in the wrong and not only was her judgement incorrect, her complete lack of compassion and respect was uncalled for. She needs to be reprimanded because this is not the first time she has done this. Hope that helps. If I think of anything else, I'll let you know. ;)

Jennifer Conklin said...

I should clarify...parents should be informed of the rules abd regs so they will be armed with that knowledge in case they encounter an attendant who wants to challenge them. Again, you were in the right on this situation. I've never had an issues with other flight attendants. She needs to go through intensive training or be fired for her actions. .

Ecological Babies said...

Maybe in that safety video, they can address the issue and show moms how to hold their baby, when it is appropriate to take them off their shoulder, etc.

gail said...

All of these suggestions are good and hopefully something positive will come of this traumatic experience. I believe it will. I wanted to bring this to your attention (if you didn't know about it?)I was sent this link by Lisa Fletcher Folmar -
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20091008/NEWS02/91007028/Breast-feeding-mom-sues-Delta
this link to a women who is suing Delta at this time. In light of this and other experiences I would add...do not be rushed into making a decision about your experience just so Delta Airlines can have this behind them. Best Wishes to you and your family.

Ecological Babies said...

Gail-Thanks for sharing this other story! It is very helpful.

Jennifer Conklin said...

That story is amazing. Reminds me of the girl who was kicked off a plane several years ago for being dressed "inappropriately".
I think adding the requirements for younger passengers to the safety video is an excellent idea. That information should be part of the basic safety knowledge for passengers to know (car seat requirements abd carriers can only be in use during specific times). It wouldn't take up very much time on the video. Or, even when you purchase the tickets on Deltas website, have a flier popup with the requirements for younger passengers when you list a passenger under the age of 3-4 (young enough to require a carseat). Similiar to if you were trying to book a seat in an exit row. Sorry....just throwing out suggestions. The bigger issue in your situation is the blantant mistreatment you received from the attendant. Anywho, hope that helps some. :)

Caro said...

I hope you're asking for at least her job. Even my husband said you should ask for free flights for life. I do understand where you are coming from though. I think they do need more training and the rules and regulations should be available for everyone - in a manner that they can keep it and carry it with them - in the terminal.

I was always told that breastfeeding during take off and landing helps the baby with ear popping and such - making baby much more comfortable and quiet.

I haven't flown in a while, but have they seriously stopped the early boaring for children? Really? Because that definitely needs to come back. That's a huge help to parents. I've never traveled with children but I've been on flights with them and I always found the parents to be calm and settled in by the time everyone got on and it seemed to help with the transition a lot, especially for the children.

And no, a flight attendant should not be able to call the police just because she wants to do so. She's just a bully who wanted to feel powerful.

I do understand that you want to help others and that's fabulous, but you need to get this woman's job. She does - along with the airline - need to make a public apology. And you should get free flights for life. Or at least for quite some time. If you really want to get them where it hurts, demand that they not only give special training for this type of "issue" but also demand that they start support LLL or something of the like. And by support, I mean giving them money and having their info packets in the seats on the planes, with all the breastfeeding laws and such. That would certianly help anyone else in your situation (-:

Brandy said...

It seems like the main issue is training. I think they've stopped training their employees to treat travelers like customers, which we are. We are customers who usually scrimp and save so we can buy tickets to use their service. If any other place of business treated their customers the way the airlines (specifically Delta) do, they would no longer be in business.

The second issue is information distribution. After I read your blog, I did some googling, and it appears that it is some sort of regulation that infants can't be in slings, carriers, etc. However, I've never actually seen this information given out. When you look for information on traveling with children, the best you can hope for is reading other people's experiences, but those experiences are all very varied. We would be much better prepared to cooperate if we knew what was expected of us. And if they could ask that of us with some common courtesy.

beckim82 said...

I agree, I think the main issue is to have a clear, reasonable policy regarding slings and carriers. Many, many parents use them now, and they are invaluable when you need your hands free, as you do when getting on and off a plane. The first time I flew with my daughter, I walked up and down the terminal for as long as I could with her in my carrier, trying to get her to fall asleep for the plane ride. I succeeded, only to find out once we were in our seats that I had to take her out of the carrier for take-off. I think that Delta needs to make an effort to find out what mothers feel they need regarding slings, come up with a policy that takes that information into account, and then make that policy widely known. I like the idea of including it in the safety video.

I also agree that while this is a great opportunity to make sure all mothers who fly with infants are treated appropriately, your special situation does need to be addressed by the company. Calling security on you is outrageous. They need to do something to make amends with you.

Jessica said...

The last time I flew Delta with my nursing 18 month old my husband and
I had separate seats and the flight attendant actually moved some other people so that we could sit together. She said she had the authority to move anyone into any seating arrangement. The other passengers were happy to be moved away from "the toddler" and she made sure they had choice of window or aisle for their new seats. We were traveling with her as an "infant in arms" but there were open seats on the flight so the FA went so far as to make sure we got an additional empty seat so we could spread out a bit. I thought this FA did her best to make everyone on the flight happy.

When my baby was 6 months old we flew with her in a baby sling and I noticed on the safety pamphlet at our seat that it suggested an "infant in arms" be held laying on their back across your lap and you leaning forward over the baby in the event of a rough landing. Since our doctor had recommended I nurse her on take off and landing to help relieve pressure on her ears, I thought a cradle hold in a sling would be more than appropriate for both scenarios. I never had anyone say anything about how I was carrying her. In fact, I got compliments on how quiet she was sleeping and nursing in her sling compared to the screaming baby a few rows back!

I think in reality, there is no safe way to hold a baby in a moving vehicle other than in a car seat. If the plane were to crash or have a really rough landing, the unrestrained baby would likely be injured despite any efforts to hold them. We brought our car seat with us when we flew and if there were seats empty on the flight we were allowed to use the car seat.

Casey Yu said...

this is probably a long shot - but I think the upper admin at Delta needs to treat their employees better. If this employee perhaps had either good job security, felt like she mattered, etc., perhaps she wouldn't have felt the urge to exert power in such an abusive way. Granted, I know in every good company there are rotten apples - but man, this type of behavior should have been addressed before. I have a hard time believing this is the first time something like this has happened.

Donielle said...

Thanks so much for all you're doing. I had an issue with Delta in 2007. One leg of our flight was on one of those small planes - somehow we weren't aware of that beforehand. During take-off my 10 month old pooped. As soon as the seat belt sign was off I asked the flight attendant where I could change him. She directed me toward the lavatory. The problem was there was nowhere remotely safe or sanitary to change a baby. There was no floor room, no flat surface, just a toilet and a sink. It was a complete disaster. I know space is tight, but it seems like there should be SOME sort of place to change a baby. A fold-down table? A bench? I exchanged emails with them for awhile and they sounded like they were really going to do something and keep me posted but I guess I was a little too patient and it just fizzled out. So THANK YOU for following through on this for all of us. We'll do what we can to help. Maybe Delta (or some other) airline will realize in a free-market economy it pays off to keep customers happy - maybe someone will decide to be known as the family friendly airline so we don't have to get ourselves so worried about infringing on other passengers with our obnoxious breatfeeding and pretzel-tapping, etc! :)

bdogmama said...

My suggestion...Money talks!

Remind Delta (and I'm sure there's some research out there to back this up...) that a huge segment of their travel consumers are *families*. Not only is there money to be made from not just being nicer to families, but imagine the upside to --(gasp!) catering to them.

I bet little "comfort kits" for families would be too much to ask (But I think it's a cute idea! Imagine...crayons, a coloring book...blanket/pillow...a prize like in cereal boxes, etc.),

but maybe they could make a new internal campaign to target some of the rules and regulations for families and make them more visible to employees...maybe attendants who have taken special training (infant CPR, family travel ,etc. courses) could get special badges to wear on planes to indicate they are family friendly?

Seems like the options for Delta would be endless if they *embraced* this as an opportunity.

In the meantime...it would be nice for TSA and the Airlines to be CLEAR about SPECIFIC rules and guidelines. One of the fallouts of extreme security measures has been the complete lack of knowledge about policies because they differ from airline to airline, and they are purposely vague. I can't tell you how much misunderstanding there is - from the consumers to the employees about things like breastpumping, transporting breast milk, acceptable carriers, etc.

GOOD LUCK!