A video showing a family of three, including a toddler, being removed from a Southwest Airlines flight has gone viral since being uploaded on Facebook on Wednesday.
The incident was recorded shortly before Southwest Airlines Flight 1683 was about to take off from Midway International Airport in Chicago toward Atlanta.
While the circumstances that led to the family being kicked off the plane was not captured on video, witnesses present at the scene said the 2-year-old was scared of flying due to which she wanted to sit on her father’s lap and not her own seat.
Alexis Armstrong, the woman who recorded the footage, told Inc the child “had a fit for about three minutes… While still boarding and people were seating. Then the flight attendant in red came over and said she needs to calm and sit or she will be escorted off… The man calms the child, gets her popcorn, sets her up.”
However, as the child’s tantrums continued for a few more minutes and plane neared the runway, the captain announced the aircraft was going to return back to the terminal. Then, a flight attendant came up to the family and firmly asked them to disembark. This is the part of the incident caught on video.
In the footage, the toddler is not seen behaving in an unruly manner, as she allegedly was during the time of takeoff, but was calm and composed as she and her parents were escorted out of the flight.
“All I really wanted was it to be seen by [Southwest] and apologize to this family. I am a mom and my heart was hurting for this dad. Southwest owes them an apology,” Armstrong said. “I did not think this would blow up, I am not sure why I even began to film, I just knew from the woman’s attitude and security approaching it wasn’t going to end well.”
Many passengers onboard the flight strongly objected to the crew’s decision to remove the family from the plane.
One of the passengers in the video was seen saying, “With a 2-year-old, you’re not going to give her like two minutes to sit?”
Replying to the passenger, the flight attendant said, “We’re cleared for departure. We all need to understand the operation, unfortunately. This is not helpful guys. Do you want to go to Atlanta? The decision’s been made.”
The video has garnered more than 490,000 views at the time of publishing the story.
Regarding the incident, Southwest Airlines released the following statement: “After pushback Wednesday evening, Flight 1683 to Atlanta returned to the gate at Chicago Midway to allow supervisors to board the aircraft. Our initial reports indicate a conversation escalated onboard between the crew and a customer traveling with a small child. We always aim for a welcoming and hospitable experience and regret the inconvenience to all involved.”
They also added the family was “booked on the next flight to Atlanta after the original flight continued as planned.”