Pregnant singer-songwriter Sarah Blackwood of Walk Off the Earth says she was thrown off a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Vancouver because of her crying young son.
"When everyone was boarded, my son got very fussy," Blackwood, 34, told ABC News today of the Wednesday afternoon incident. "He started to cry really loud, he was squirming in my arms and I was doing everything I could to hold onto him."
Next, Blackwood said, she was approached by a flight attendant who told her she needed to "control your child," who is not yet 2 years old, and "learn how to calm him down as the parent" or she would be asked to leave the plane.
"Then we were taxiing and my son had fallen asleep, as I'd predicted. But then the pilot went over the intercom and said he was turning around to go refuel, which I thought was so strange," Blackwood said. "When we got back to the gate, a lady from the airport came inside and told me to I had to leave the plane."
The 7-months-pregnant singer said she welled up with tears because she felt embarrassed "that it was actually because of us the plane turned around." Other passengers came to her defense, saying that it was ridiculous she was being asked to leave, she added.
The flight was operated by United Airlines regional partner SkyWest Airlines, which told ABC News in a statement that the crew made the "difficult decision" to remove Blackwood and her child 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," the airline said.
Blackwood said her son was never in the aisle.
"I was in a window seat, 11-A, and I had my baby in my lap because he's technically not 2 yet, so he has to sit there," she said. "There was also a gentleman sitting next to me. My son would have literally had to crawl over that man to get to the aisle, which he wouldn't do because he's pretty shy."
After hours of going back and forth with customer service people, Blackwood said she was finally able to get onto a later flight. A video Blackwood recorded of a United Airlines representative saying she'd “never heard anything like this” happening is gaining traction on YouTube, with more than 30,000 views as of Thursday night.
"What was supposed to be a five-and-a-half-hour travel day turned in a 13-hour travel day, and we got home pretty late," she said.
Since then, Blackwood has gotten online support from other parents via social media.
"I just want to thank everyone for being so kind and aware and, most of all, I just want to get the story out there that may put something on the map that hadn't been there before for many other travelling families," Blackwood said. "I'm sure people have been through much worse, but at least it's out there now."