Crying Child and Parents Removed From Flight

ByABC News via via logo

Jan. 23, 2007 — -- Every parent has dealt with a child having a tantrum and causing embarrassment at the worst times -- in a grocery store, in a restaurant, and at weddings.

For a Massachusetts mom and dad, however, their toddler's tantrum cost them their flight home.

On Jan. 14, 3-year-old Elly Kulesza and her parents, Julie and Gerald, were kicked off an AirTran Airways flight from Florida to their Worcester, Mass., home because Elly would not stop crying.

Elly, who had been a model passenger on the flight to Florida four days earlier, began to cry uncontrollably once she got on the plane, throwing a temper tantrum on the floor.

AirTran employees demanded that the Kuleszas calm down their child. When Elly didn't stop crying, the crew banned the Kuleszas from flying for 24 hours. Later, AirTran offered an apology to the family along with a refund on their tickets.

"As we have an obligation to the 112 other passengers onboard the flight to operate the flight on time," AirTran said in a statement, "we had to make an operational decision to ask the Kulesza party to deplane so the flight could depart."

On "Good Morning America," the Kuleszas insisted that their toddler wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary.

"I don't know what happened. No one can tell when something like this is going to happen. She had a great morning, but then she got on the plane and she started to cry," Julie Kulesza said.

"She's like the typical 3-year-old. She has her moments, but overall she's a very, very good child."

The Kuleszas said that unlike the AirTran crew, the passengers on the flight were sympathetic to their situation.

"I jokingly turned around and asked the three gentlemen behind me, 'Aren't you glad you got these seats?" Julie said. "Another passenger offered up a lollipop to try and calm her down."

Despite AirTran's apology and offer of a complimentary flight, the Kuleszas don't plan to fly with the airline anytime soon.

"We'll pass on that," Gerald Kulesza said. "After that, I told them I'd never fly with them again."

While not every toddler tantrum makes headlines, many parents want to know how they can cope with them.

"Good Morning America" parenting contributor Anne Pleshette Murphy offered tips on how to calm a crying child.

When in public, every parent's mantra should be this: "I don't know any of these people, and I'm never going to see them again." Just focus on your child, not on the other people around you who are giving you dirty looks. Your goal is to be your child's advocate, to be there for your child.

Screaming at and threatening your child is a bad idea. Do the opposite. Your child is out of control, and the point is to try to help them physically collect themselves.

This strategy is very simple but can be very effective. Put the child on your lap, hold him or her tightly, and talk very softly. You should say you understand that they're upset and really sound as if you mean it. You can go on talking about almost anything, as long as you're speaking in a soft, soothing voice. If your child is really thrashing about, you're going to have to restrain him or her. Often, however, this technique of holding and talking softly will calm a child down in a few minutes.

Another way to diffuse tantrums is to distract the child. Come armed with a toy they've never seen, a familiar object like a security blanket, or a candy to suck on. But frankly, when a child is out of control, this may not work.

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