One Question I Have About Family Booted off JetBlue Flight for Squirmy Toddler

There’s been a story going around (especially on Twitter) about a family that was kicked off a JetBlue flight because the mother was holding their squirmy toddler.

From the Consumerist:

A family that purchased a separate seat for their 2-year-old son on a JetBlue flight say they were just trying to comfort the youngster by having him sit on his mom’s lap during takeoff, but that the flight attendants treated them like a safety risk and had them kicked off the plane.

Jet Blue responded, according to WTOP, that they must follow all federally-mandated law and keep the safety of customers in mind.

But thinking about this, I have a a question.

So, the passenger’s concern is whether or not the flight attendant overreacted to a squirmy toddler.  And JetBlue basically said they must do what is in the interest of the other passengers (which makes sense).

But the woman’s child was 2 years old.  Technically, she could have flown with him on her lap as a lap child instead of purchasing him a seat.

Given she could have legally had him as a lap child, what made having him on her lap more inherently dangerous in this situation than in the typical lap child situation?

I’m honestly asking because that specific detail has had me puzzled for this whole case.

child on plane

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. A lap child would be under 2… Nice try!

  2. Infant in arms rules are “under 2 years old” not “2 years old and under”

    Specifically I think the DOT verbiage is “up to the date of their second birthday.”

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      aha, that makes sense then. I’ve definitely seen lap children who had to be past 2 (got kicked in the face by one in fact!) but that must be skirting the rules.

      • While lap children are supposed to be under 2, it’s up to the airlines to enforce that, since obviously TSA can’t verify ID on a 2 year old’s birthdate. Basically if a child appears to the airline staff to be 2+, then they’re supposed to ask for age verification, whether it be a copy of the birth certificate or otherwise.

        “Supposed to” doesn’t always translate to “does” though, because demanding birth certificates from traveling families in the airport is a quick way to generate news stories like this one.

        • We have 3 kids 5 and under, each of them has had a few flights during the “free under 2” age period, we’ve boarded with one of our kids as a lap child numerous times (at least 20 segments).

          Southwest checked the paperwork on each trip at check in, US Airways at my home airport did not check but are so familiar with me and my family, it’d be kinda weird to be carded. US Airways and American in Canada and Mexico checked (passport of course), but domestically it was not consistent. We always had an electronic version accessible and a photocopy in our carry on. I believe Southwest may have denied us check in with a lap baby if we didn’t have the form, the rest of the trips we were pretty much set.

          BTW: We did all of the lap child flying in First except for Southwest. Our only issue with a lap child was in Southwest, we had our first baby reclined into, since then they sleep peacefully with more room space and no head bumps from a recliner.

  3. I come to Boarding Area blogs to get information, not to correct you bloggers.

    • Sam, that is quite fortunate as we don’t have additional budget for this current fiscal year to compensate you for your services in correcting bloggers on the Internet, I do hope you are available in the coming fiscal year as our budget for content control is set to increase. I hope that you are able to focus your energies on only things that are worth your time until then.

      You should rest assured that the remainder of the Internet continues to be monitored to ensure that it is error free, without bias, and contains no questions or admissions of curiosity on a particular subject. As an Internet Editor since 1992, I can attest to the strides we’ve made in providing filters to suppress humor, wit and sarcasm – these improvements should be visible in the coming months. Soon you will find only pre-approved pictures of kittens, one-direction tribute sites, and credit card offers online.

    • Correction – This is Prior2Boarding, not Boarding Area.

    • I come to the comments section to read lively discussion, not Sam’s ridiculous remarks. Move in or move on.

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