Once again I attempted to take my 4 children half way across the country to see their grandparents by myself. Our destinations brought us from Atlanta to Dallas on flight #1315 at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 29th. Where on this flight I as a solo mother of four small children (ages: 10, 5, and 2 year old twins) was discriminated against, and one of my two year old twins was violated by an American Airline flight attendant.
As I sit and write this experience down I am not sure who I want to address it to. Last time I had a similar experience on American Airline’s I tried to privately address my experience to American Airline; however, I was basically ignored. (You can read about that experience here: http://thecobles.blogspot.com/2013/11/american-airlines-compliant-one-mother.html ) American Airlines did send me a pre-scripted apology note and a $100 voucher that I could use on our next flight, but I did not get to talk to anyone and my situation was simply swept under the rug. Therefore, I am writing this letter not because I want an apology but because I feel that action needs to be taken and there needs to be a change in the way that American Airlines treats their customers flying with small children.
First unpleasant American Airline experience on March 29th:
Once again as we checked in we attempted to get my husband a gate pass. He was not flying with us (he was simply dropping us off), but this would have allowed him to help me get through security and to our gate with my small children. He was told by the AA representative that this she was not allowed, by the FAA instruction, to grant him a gate pass to help us get to our gate. However, even though after much begging the last time we flew with AA over Thanksgiving we were given a gate pass for my husband. Nevertheless, a friend of mine also traveling solo with four kids flew on a Delta flight at 12:30 (same day - Saturday March 29) from Atlanta to Huston was allowed a gate pass for her husband with no questions asked.
Second unpleasant American Airline experience on March 29th:
As I was boarding the plane with my 4 small children I was asked to wait while boarding the plane, with my four children while the 1st class stewardess brought orange juice to one of the passengers. I had to wait with my kids for her to get the orange juice to the man’s seat and then I had to wait for her to get back to the stewardess station. All the while I am waiting with my four children (ages 10, 5, and 2 year old TWINS).
Third unpleasant American Airline experience on March 29th:
Half way through the flight after passing out drinks the stewardess leaned over and asked me “if I could get my children to be more quiet.” I tried to process what she was asking and evaluate my children’s behavior, and I agree that I am a little bias towards my children, but my children were being very good on this flight. My 10 year old and 5 year old were 100% zoned into their activities and their electronic devises. My 2 year old son was sitting beside me and was watching a movie being perfectly still and quiet. My 2 year old daughter was sitting in my lap most of the trip because she was wanted to be held, she did talk a little bit on the trip; however, I find it hard to believe that she was being more disruptive than the three grown men loudly sleeping directly behind us. And when I say they were sleeping I could legitimacy confirm this in my head because they were snoring. How I ask you were my children making too much noise if these men were sleeping so soundly that they were snoring?
Fourth unpleasant American Airline experience on March 29th:
Within 5 minutes two AA attendants came back 3 more times to first “shush” my children. Second they asked me “if I had a next flight or if Dallas was my final destination?” Third, asked me again to “get my kids to be quieter.” At this point I truly felt that she was trying to bully me or pick a fight (or get me to get upset), which I was very mad by this point, but I know that passed history has shown me that it has never paid off for a passenger to get upset on a flight, so I tried diligently to hold my tongue and keep my cool.
Fifth unpleasant American Airline experience on March 29th:
Then one of the AA attendants walked over to my two year old son (who was watching his movie), got down in front of him, held his leg down with her hand, put her finger over her mouth, and shushed my 2 year old child. Regardless of any amount of noise that my children were making on a plane this woman (the American Airlines stewardess) should have never violated my child in this manner.
Concluding the flight:
At the end of the flight I did apologize to the people in front of us and let them know that if we were any annoyance to them that we did want to apologize. At the point the passenger woman said “oh my word they were wonderful. They did not bother us a bit.” This was a little bit of confirmation to me that the American Airline employees were treating us unfairly and that I was being discriminated against as a mom with small children flying on their airline.
I am writing this account of events down not because I want anything physical or tangible from American Airlines, but I am writing this because I want to see change in this airlines practice for treating passengers with children and their children. I don’t know if they need to think about having child friendly flight attendants on the weekends, or if they need to have a separate petitioned seating area for people traveling with children, but their customers need to be treated better than the way my children and I were treated. This was unacceptable.