The Kulesza family had a very rude awakening recently when they were kicked off an AirTran Airways flight from Florida to Massachusetts. AirTran Airways made the Kulesza family leave the plane when their daughter, three-year-old Elly, began to cry.
Gerry Kulesza, Elly’s father and an EMT, said a flight attendant first asked if they had purchased a seat for their daughter, to which they said yes. Moments later, Gerry said he was approached again and told, “You need to get her in control and in her seat.“
The Kulesza family asked if they could hold their daughter instead of putting her in her seat, but were told no. Shortly afterwards, the family was approached by an AirTran Airways flight attendant and asked to leave the plane.
Elly’s mother, Julie Kulesza, was shocked when the flight attendant told her husband that they had to leave the plane. “They were talking to my husband. They said, ‘So, you need to get off the plane now.’ I looked up and I went, ‘Are you serious?’“
The family of three was not allowed to board another flight for twenty-four hours, per AirTran Airways safety rules, and was stranded in Florida without their luggage or diapers.
Gerry Kulesza, embarrassed and forced to miss a day of work, said, “I was outraged and embarrassed. I’m a full time EMT in Boston and if I treated anybody the way they treated me, I would be out of a job.“
Julie Kulesza, explaining why she wanted her story told, said, “I just wanted to make the public aware of what happened and this too can happen to them if their child is crying too much.“
AirTran Airways offered the Kulesza family a full refund of their tickets after the family arrived at home. The Kulesza’s turned down AirTran Airways offer of three round-trip tickets to anywhere the airline flies saying they would never fly AirTran Airways again.
Judy Graham-Weaver, AirTran Airways spokesperson, said the flight was already 15 minutes late and that the toddler was removed because, “she was climbing under the seat and hitting the parents and wouldn’t get in her seat“.
AirTran Officials say they were following Federal Aviation Administration rules that state that children age two and above must have their own seat and must be wearing a seat belt before the plane can take off. Federal Aviation Administration rules say “Except as provided in this paragraph, each person on board a U.S.-registered civil aircraft must occupy an approved seat or berth with a safety belt and, if installed, shoulder harness, properly secured about him or her during movement on the surface, takeoff, and landing. Notwithstanding the preceding requirements of this paragraph, a person may be held by an adult who is occupying an approved seat or berth, provided that the person being held has not reached his or her second birthday and does not occupy or use any restraining device.”
This case has caused quite a bit of controversy and there are people on both sides of the issue. What is your opinion?