x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Please be seated

An airline crew was wrong to make a family de-plane because a three-year-old refused to wear a seat-belt. But what ever happened to parental authority?

Common sense is not very common, goes the old saying. Everywhere you look these days, bureaucracy and stringent regulation trump reason. And nowhere is that more evident than in the hyper-sensitive aviation industry, where even the slightest of mishaps is treated as a security breach. Not even toddlers are exempt from harassment.

Daniel Yanchuck, a restless 3-year-old boy who refused to buckle his seatbelt last Saturday, forced the pilot of a Miami-bound Alaska Airlines flight to return to its gate at Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle.

As the Associated Press reported, the plane had moved a mere 50 feet when it was turned back. Despite the protestations of the unruly child's parents, the family was asked to leave the plane.

The incident raises several questions. For a start, how is it that the child's parents were unable to exert any authority on him in this situation? And considering flight attendants are trained to handle far more serious cases, was grounding the flight really the only solution?

The airlines said the flight was grounded as a matter of safety and that the pilot would rather deal with it on the ground than in mid-flight. But what of the inconvenience that the delay caused to the other passengers?

The officiousness of the aviation authorities, in this case, was counterproductive. As for little Daniel's parents, tougher times lie ahead.