If Jody Clark’s recent United Airlines flight from Houston to Vancouver had been a scene in a movie, it probably would be the one where the protagonist is finally pushed to the brink of a nervous breakdown.
“There was a family with two extremely disruptive toddlers seated in the row behind me in first class,” she says. “In the seat directly behind was a two-year-old who, without any break during the entire five-hour flight, continued to utter high pitched screams, cry and carry on yelling instead of talking, clanged together loud metal toys, and, worst of all, kicked at the back at my chair.”
But Clark’s flight was no disaster movie. It was real life. (Fortunately, minus the breakdown.)
And that’s just the half of it.
Let me hand Clark the mike for a minute:
When the kids were not in their seats they ran up and down the aisle spilling food and water, grabbed onto my armrest or hung off the side of my chair — I was seated on the aisle — and when I tried to ignore them, tapped and pulled my arm until they were given the attention their parents wouldn’t provide them.
The parents treated the first-class cabin as though it was their personal living room and did not respect the personal space of others at all for the duration of the flight.
After two hours of trying to ignore the actions of the children and after having a drink spilled on my clothing, hair and pillow through the middle of the two chairs from behind, I asked the parents to handle their kids and to at least please stop banging my chair.
Nothing changed, as they had no regard for others and merely gave me a dirty look.
I then approached the two flight attendants and they advised that they had never seen anything like this before and had no idea of what could be done. They were very nice and apologized, but nothing at the time could be done to remedy the situation.
Uncontrolled children rampaging through first class? The only thing worse than that, maybe, is uncontrolled adults rampaging through first class. Cue the Gerard Finneran flashback.
Clark wants United to reimburse her for the cleaning costs and to refund the difference between her first class ticket and an economy class ticket. Here’s how United responded to that request:
I sincerely regret that you did not experience the level of service you have come to expect when traveling with United Airlines.
You have my most sincere apology for your trip not being more pleasant. Your frustration with the described level of cabin noise is understandable. Please know United Airlines is a family friendly airlines serving millions of customers traveling with children every year and has earned a reputation for exemplary customer service and safety. Our employees are expected to treat our customers with dignity and respect and to perform duties in a professional manner. Our in-flight crews are trained to handle all situations professionally and with ease and decorum when approaching a disruptive child’s parents.