Singer Sarah Blackwood is currently on tour and travelling with her young son who became restless after boarding. The flight crew reportedly told the young mother to “control your child” while waiting for takeoff on the runway Wednesday.
— Sarah Blackwood (@SarahBlackwood1) May 28, 2015
"I was approached a few times by the two flight attendants on the plane, telling me to 'control my child.' They said I was his parent and I should know how to calm him down, and if I wasn't able to do that they would have to turn the plane around." Blackwood told People Magazine.
As the plane began to make its way to the runway, the pilot suddenly announced that it was returning to the gate to refuel. Upon arrival at the gate, however, another airline staff member approached Blackwood and told her that she needed to take her son and exit the plane. By this point in time, the young child was reportedly asleep in her lap.
"None of the passengers were complaining. They were all very sympathetic," Blackwood told The Hamilton Spectator. "The woman behind me stood up and said, 'That's ridiculous. You can't ask this woman to leave. Her son is sleeping.'"
Embarrassed and in tears, Blackwood exited the flight and was rebooked for a later departure.
"I don't like to make a big deal of anything; I don't like to make a fuss; I don't put up fights," the singer says. "I just said to her, 'Please don't do this.' But she said, 'The staff doesn't feel safe on the plane with your son.' "
The singer is now looking into securing a lawyer against the airline and is demanding an apology, not from the airline, but from the specific flight attendant who demanded she leave the flight.
United’s partner airline, SkyWest Airlines, who was operating the flight, remained unapologetic regarding the incident in a statement to People.
"The crew made the difficult decision to remove Ms. Blackwood and her child from the flight based solely on safety concerns. Despite numerous requests, the child was not seated, as required by federal regulation to ensure passenger safety, and was repeatedly in the aisle of the aircraft before departure and during taxi. While our crews work to make traveling safe and comfortable for all travelers, particularly families, the crew made the appropriate decision to return to the gate in the interest of safety."
Blackwood took to social media to vent her outrage, and even posted a video of her son to YouTube titled “The Child United Felt was Too Dangerous to Fly.”
Several passengers of the flight took to United’s Facebook page to voice their outrage over the way the situation was handled.
"Everyone on that flight was shocked at how unprofessional, unreasonable and insensitive a certain member of your staff acted!" a passenger named Paul William Moore wrote.
"What kind of flight attendants and pilot would do such a thing? Babies cry, definitely not a health or security risk to anyone on the plane. Terrible." Another passenger, Rick Collin, posted.