Mum told on flight: Babies can't cry for more than 5 minutes
ALL parents know flying with a baby is challenging, but one new mum says her experience on a flight from Sydney to San Francisco was especially difficult when she was yelled at by a flight attendant because her bub was crying.
Krupa Patel Bala was travelling in business class with her husband and their eight-month old son on the United Airlines flight when the incident unfolded.
In a detailed Facebook account, which she posted as it happened using in-flight Wi-Fi, a "beyond infuriated" Ms Bala said her son had been crying for about five minutes when she was approached by the chief flight attendant.
"Now, I don't really know what's wrong with my baby, but he tends to cry from time to time. I hear that's common with newborns but this is my only child, so I could be mistaken," she wrote.
"After about 5 minutes of the baby crying in the bassinet, (the flight attendant manager) came over and yelled at my husband it was 'absolutely unacceptable' for the baby to cry."
Ms Bala said she and her husband picked up their son and tried to calm him down. When the flight attendant returned, she called Ms Bala to economy class to address the situation.
Ms Bala then said the flight attendant "dropped some knowledge on me", including that she should have given her baby's bottle back sooner, even though it was empty, she shouldn't have tried to put him to sleep, and some babies weren't even allowed in business class. (United later clarified in a statement young families were welcome in business class.)
According to Ms Bala, the flight attendant also told her "babies are not allowed to cry for more than five minutes and (this part was yelled) it really stressed the crew out."
"Funny; it also really stresses me out when the baby cries - I don't actually enjoy it, go figure," Ms Bala said.
"Oh, and we asked a few other crew members if we disturbed them and they had zero idea what we were talking about."
Ms Bala said the flight attendant insisted it was "part of the rule book that the babies are not allowed to cry for more than five minutes".
"When I asked to see the rule book, I was laughed at and told I could see it when we landed because there's no internet," she said, adding there was indeed Wi-Fi on board because she was using it to post on Facebook at the time.
Ms Bala said she tried to explain to the flight attendant that while crying babies could be frustrating, there was a more constructive way of managing the situation.
"Her response to that was to tell me that it didn't matter because it was just unacceptable for the baby to cry and as the parent, I need to control him," she said.
She said the situation left her infuriated.
"Parents of newborns have it hard enough already travelling with a baby and we certainly don't need CREW MANAGERS piling on when we are doing our best to ensure we're containing our children and their cries," she said.
Ms Bala said the pilot ended up approaching the couple and apologising for the flight attendant's behaviour.
When the family arrived in San Francisco they were greeted by United representatives who apologised and offered them a refund.
In an update, Ms Bala said her experience with other "wonderful" United staff had been positive, but the flight attendant who confronted her had refused to apologise.
"From what I understand, United is handling the situation and ensuring that no one else ever has an experience like ours where a flight attendant makes up her own rules," she said.
In a statement to California broadcaster KTVU, United Airlines the flight attendant in question was being "held out of service" pending an investigation.
"We've been in touch with our customer via social media and United representatives met the family upon arrival to apologise, offer a refund and make clear that the experience she relayed doesn't reflect our commitment to serving our customers, including our youngest customers," the company said.
"Young families are welcome on our flights, including in business class.
"We are continuing to review the incident internally and the flight attendant is being held out of service pending the investigation."