Was the airline out of line?

Becky - posted on 11/08/2010 ( 40 moms have responded )

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http://www.calgaryherald.com/life/Diaper...
EDMONTON — It will likely be the most expensive and inconvenient diaper that newlyweds Dan Blais and Colleen Roberge will ever have to change.


Last month, the Alberta couple missed their plane home from Las Vegas because Alaska Airlines gave away their tickets when the couple was forced to change their eight-month-old baby's exploding diaper just before boarding.


Their luggage — including their baby supplies — was sent on the plane to Seattle, while the family was forced to stay an extra night and buy new tickets for the following day.


"We felt completely stranded," Blais said this weekend. "It was a terrible experience."


Last month, the family was scheduled to fly back to Edmonton through Seattle on Alaska Airlines at 3:15 p.m., after marrying in Las Vegas.


Blais said they passed through security more than 20 minutes before their plane was scheduled to take off. But as they were approaching the counter, Levi soiled himself.


"It turned out to be one of those big messes," Blais said.


Roberge rushed to the bathroom to deal with Levi, while at the gate, Blais told the agent what happened and said his wife would be there in five minutes.


"She basically said 'I'll give you two minutes,'" Blais said. If they weren't back by then, Blais said they were told the airline would give away their seats.


Blais ran to the bathroom and yelled for his wife to hurry. Inside, Roberge scrambled to get Levi's diaper changed and clothes back on. But when she came out, it was too late. The agent had given away her seat.


The two were offered the chance to fly standby, but Blais said they were told they weren't likely to get another flight for two or three days.


With only enough baby supplies to get them through the night, he got on the phone and booked the next available tickets home, on a one-way WestJet flight, at a cost of more than $1,000 for the two of them.


After arriving back in St. Albert, Alta., just outside Edmonton, the two lodged a complaint with the airline's customer service department. When they didn't get the answer they wanted, the turned to the blog, which they titled Alaska Airlines Hates Families.


Within days of the site going up, an Alaska Airlines representative had posted the company' side of the story in the comments section.


For flights leaving Las Vegas, the airline requires passengers to be at the gate 40 minutes before departure, wrote Elliot Pesut, the company's social media manager. If passengers are late, their reservations can be cancelled.


"If we accommodate people who arrive late, we risk arriving at the destination late," Pesut wrote. "(T) hat's not fair to everyone else who boarded on time."


The company offered Blais and Roberge each a $400 travel voucher as a "service gesture," said another spokeswoman, but they have so far declined.


Blais said they want an apology, and $1,000.


"I don't think I'm asking for anything unreasonable here," he said. "It was a terrible, stressful experience. But I'm not asking for any emotional damages. I just want them to pay me back for what it cost me to get home."

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
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What do you think? Was the airline wrong to give their tickets away? Should they be reimbursed?

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Jessica - posted on 11/10/2010

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"....I'm betting a trip to wal mart for extra diapers and some baby wipes would have cost less than a grand."

And a rental car to get there?

April - posted on 11/10/2010

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the airline did give her "two minutes" to change the diaper. but they didn't tell HER that. they told her husband and i am gonna guess it took him about 2 minutes to get to the bathroom to tell her to hurry up. SO...the airline shouldn't have said they would wait at all. It wasn't nice to give the couple hope that they would make their flight. If you're gonna follow the rules, then you should do so correctly.

Elisabeth - posted on 11/10/2010

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They should of just gotten on the plane anyway and changed on the plane. It's only a shitty nappy nothing major, the child is 8 months old so it would of been pretty easy to keep the baby in a nappy for a while longer. I'm sure a hostess would of allowed them to change him quickly in the toilet before they were to take off as usually the plane is stationary for a good ten minutes for pre-flight checks and ect. It's unfair to make everybody else wait just because of one person, esp. if it's just a dirty nappy - it's not exactly life threatening. Other passangers may have connecting flights ect and the airline should try their hardest to ensure all is done to keep passangers happy, even if it means upsetting a minority, not the majority. BTW I've flown many times (including international). The most resent I flew 4.5 hrs, with an almost 2 yr old and a 3 month old and had to change 3 nappies (2 shitty) and got vomited on...twice! But I perfer flying like that then missing it.

Isobel - posted on 11/09/2010

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I'm not saying it shouldn't have waited...just that they have no right to bitch that they didn't. Perhaps the plane was already behind in lifting off...perhaps they had people showing up late all day (who knows). I think they are whiners because they didn't do anything to make their situation any better...they just bitched...why wouldn't they fly stand-by? or take another trip?



It's not the airline's job to bend the rules, they have rules that these people didn't follow. I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that they were less than friendly to the staff...these things rarely happen to friendly, well behaved people.

[deleted account]

I was thinking about this while I was showering and I want to amend my first statement. Amie just happened to bring up something that I was thinking about. IF they had been on time in the first place, they would have already boarded the plane so this would have never happened. People have to change babies on the plane all the time. Once they realized they were late they should have BOTH spoken to the airline and if the airline wasn't willing to grant them a few extra minutes they should have boarded the plane.

If it were me in that situation, I would have changed the tot on the floor and quickly boarded the plane.

Amie, I can understand why they chose not to wait on stand-by though. And, I still think the airline should reimburse them but I realize they aren't obligated to....

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40 Comments

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Eronne - posted on 11/10/2010

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I don't know...when you're traveling with an infant, giving yourself 20 minutes leeway in this day and age is pretty stupid....and unless there are totally inexperienced as parents, two minutes is adequate to change a diaper. It might not give you time to suck on little toes but off, wipe and back on, no matter how much mess can be done in well less than 5 minutes. I think this couple put their needs above everyone else, as we see so often now a days.

~Jennifer - posted on 11/10/2010

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...."With only enough baby supplies to get them through the night, he got on the phone and booked the next available tickets home, on a one-way WestJet flight, at a cost of more than $1,000 for the two of them."

....I'm betting a trip to wal mart for extra diapers and some baby wipes would have cost less than a grand.

Stupid people.

Stifler's - posted on 11/10/2010

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I think if the plane is boarding you don't go to the bathroom, you board the plane so you don't get left behind. I'm terrified of missing buses and planes and trains and that's why I can't understand these shows about people who miss their flight and try to blame the airline when everyone knows you're supposed to get there an hour before.

[deleted account]

I would definitely fly Alaska Airlines. They keep to their schedule and don't break the rules, even for entitled parents. Sounds like a fine airline.

Cat - posted on 11/09/2010

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I think they at the very least deserve their money back....

And I'm making a mental note, to never fly with them, and if I DO have to at some point, my kids are boarding with stinky diapers, I'll change them on the plane lmao I'm pretty darn sure if the mom KNEW they'd be missing their flight, she'd have taken the stinky baby right through the gate and changed him somewhere on the plane...

Chrystal - posted on 11/09/2010

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I think the airline was wrong to give their tickets away. I understand the airline has rules to follow, but sometimes you just got to look at the situation and try to put yourself in their shoes. How would they like it if their tickets were taken away b/c their baby had an accident. Then again I would've just changed the baby on the plane. But I think they do deserve their money back.

Stifler's - posted on 11/09/2010

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People change babies on the plane if the shit happens on the plane so why not just get on and do it, it's baby shit it's not that bad. Go work in a hospital then complain about shit smelling. Being embarrassed is better than having to wait over night or something with 2 nappies in your nappy bag and not get where yóu're going.

Tah - posted on 11/09/2010

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if you fly standby who knows when you will get on.......my kids fly that way because my daughter's father has worked for the airlines for about 13 years so they fly for free, but if there isn't room, guess what....they do get his seniority though, so if there is someone else who works there trying to get one, they go by hire date..it's technically non-rev, but it

is whatever is open, if anything,...

Sharon - posted on 11/09/2010

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Um - reading what the woman said to the mother... I would have said fuck it and gotten on the plane with the baby dripping shit every where.

I've flown with infants and toddlers - I know how long it takes to get to the bathroom to clean that mess up.

I would have apologised the whole way down the aisles "I'm so sorry but there wasn't time to change his diaper and make the flight."

Airlines are tight schedules.Holding up this plane means that other plane that was going to leave 10 minutes behind this one will leave 15 - 20 minutes late and so on and so forth.

Sharon - posted on 11/09/2010

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Because they were actually there and their bags were boarded - the airlines were wrong.

The airlines should have gotten them on the next flight out via alaska airlines with an apology that the plane couldn't wait.

Amie - posted on 11/09/2010

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"Think about it..have you ever had a job where you bent/broke the rules for someone else? Just because it was the right thing to do?"

Yes but what Laura said comes into play then. If you're going to be a dick, I wouldn't do jack. If you're nice and polite, I would go as far as possible to get you what you needed. I did this all the time for nice customers when I was a warranty clerk. If you're a jerk, good luck with that buddy. If the company says no, I won't fight for the jerk to get it over turned.

April - posted on 11/09/2010

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i agree with everything becky franklin said. and i disagree with "rules are rules" because i highly doubt this airline has followed every single rule to the T. Most people don't. There is always someone that feels bad for someone else, etc... etc... Think about it..have you ever had a job where you bent/broke the rules for someone else? Just because it was the right thing to do?

Rosie - posted on 11/09/2010

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technically i think the airline is in the right, but come on!! it would've been like 5 more minutes max, and wouldn't it take longer to put the new peoples luggage on the flight anyway since this couples was already on there? it was a pretty shitty thing to do IMO. but rules are rules, i guess.

[deleted account]

Don't know how things work on internal flights in the US. Here you check in baggage before going through security. Yes you have to check in atleast an hour ahead of time but there are no restrictions on how long before you go through security. Once through security you can wander around the shops but most of the time you are just sitting around waiting for your flight gate announcement. Once they finally make that announcement you only have about 10 minutes before boarding but a long wait once you're on the plane before take off. Not good if you have a baby with crap dripping down their legs from an almighty explosion.

The husband was stood there on time. It was a minor emergency that would not have had any effect on the flight schedule. Surely it would take longer to get a person on standby boarded.

Jessica - posted on 11/09/2010

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I have to say I'm surprised at all the responses saying that the parents were at fault. We're talking about asking the person letting them on to the plane to keep the door open for probably an extra 5 minutes. They weren't holding anybody up, and I seriously doubt they were the ones holding up the plane from taking off.

For those of you who have never flown on a plane, once you board the plane is sitting there for at LEAST another 20 minutes before it prepares for takeoff. Babies poop, and they don't do it on our schedule- its not like the mom went off to go shopping or something and was then pissed that they wouldn't let them on. She was changing a fucking diaper. They should totally be reimbursed, the whole thing is just ridiculous.

Isobel - posted on 11/09/2010

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I'm just surprised that the plane flew with their luggage on board and not them...I thought that was illegal...and then surely it would've taken more time to remove their luggage than change a diaper.

Other than that though, I agree with Amie...why would they CHOOSE not to fly stand-by? Entitled whiners.

Amie - posted on 11/09/2010

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I wouldn't want to wait on stand by with my kids either. However if I chose to pay for tickets so we were home faster, instead of waiting on their dime, I would not hoot and holler for them to reimburse me.

They were given reasonable options that are offered to everyone in such cases. Just because people become parents does not mean they are exempt from the rules.

Amie - posted on 11/09/2010

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Becky, doesn't matter. If they had been on time, they would have already been on the plane.

Would it be inconvenient to change a baby on a plane? Of course it would but at least they would have been on the plane. It's still their fault.

Amie - posted on 11/09/2010

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Ok so, they've been offered compensation. They were offered to fly stand by but gave a lame excuse instead.

They chose to spend that $1,000, they chose to not arrive on time, Ok.

It amazes me the sense of entitlement people have, especially when they become parents. Being a parent does not exempt you from the rules. I don't care about the circumstances.

Instead of wasting that $1,000 they could have flown stand by, saved some money by waiting (since they were wrong in the first place to be late) and sent one of each other to a near by store to pick up supplies to wait. They've been offered reimbursement, if they don't want to take it they should not get anything.

Becky - posted on 11/09/2010

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Well, but it wouldn't have mattered whether they were there 20 minutes ahead of time or 3 hours ahead of time, the kid took a huge crap right as they were supposed to be boarding the plane. Maybe it was one of those exploding, up the back craps. So really, what was mom supposed to do? Like I said, if I ever fly them, I'll just change my kid on the ticket desk! When they tell me they have bathrooms for that, I'll say, "Oh no, I've heard what you do to people who leave to go tend to their children properly!"

[deleted account]

Not only do I think they should be reimbursed but I would be making a HUGE fuckin' stink. Note to self -- NEVER fly with Alaska Airlines. Buncha jerkoffs.

Tah - posted on 11/09/2010

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vouchers...to fly that airline again...umm no thanks..and i would have sent my things ahead and had enough for probably a few hours on the flight since who expects them to leave you when you are standing in their face....we aren't talking about someone buying a magazine, we are talking about a baby with a godzilla amount of poo...that stuff starts stinking and bursting at the seams, so heck yeah she needed to change him asap...and we all know what happens when you board a flight...you sit....and wait...and wait.....most times anywho...

Catherine - posted on 11/09/2010

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This is a tough one because I don't think anyone was totally in the right or totally in the wrong. The couple thinks they were in the right because they were through security with 20 minutes to spare, but the airline policy is you need to be there 40 minutes early, so regardless of the exploding diaper, they were already late. Would it have been a big deal for the airline to wait a few more minutes (if that's really how long it was), no, it wouldn't have been and they probably should have, but I can also understand why they didn't. Should they wait for an adult using the bathroom? Buying food? Buying a magazine? I don't think the fact that it was a baby diaper means they deserve any special treatment.

The end result: you're supposed to be a few hours early to the airport, and with a baby you should have several days worth of supplies on you, so I don't know what these people were thinking. Also, they paid $1000 for new tickets, and they've been offered $800 in vouchers, so I think that the offer they've been made, considering they were in violation of airline policy, is completely fair.

Tah - posted on 11/09/2010

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The airline was definitely in the wrong, i will tell you what. I would have been very thankful to her for changing the baby prior to the flight. It takes a while to get on and get settled, and most airlines offer seating for people with children and those with trouble getting around first anywho. There was no reason she could not have boarded them last or when they came out, by the time she called the others up and gave them a ticket she could have been boarding the kids. Ticket agents are rude often times and force me to pull the B-I out my back pocket, i keep a big one there for situations like this....

Jenn - posted on 11/09/2010

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Technically, no they are not out of line for what they did. But could they have handled it differently? Yes. If I had been working the gate I would have waited the extra couple of minutes for them.

[deleted account]

The airline are in the wrong, the hubby informed them that his wife was just changing the baby because unfortunate timing by the baby if they had just turned up without informing the staff then it would have been their fault. Also somebody else has pointed out that the fathers seat was still available and he was offered to be seated on the plane so boarding wasn't finished and the mums seat should not have been handed to someone else.

Emma the issue with someone who has sickness or diarrhoea is that they may in actuality be ill and so not fit for the flight whereas a baby doing a huge poo IS fit for flight. Also although you have no issue with poo I'm sure people around you would have, so this mom was being considerate and she got kicked off a flight for it, that is not fair.

Caitlin - posted on 11/09/2010

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I woudln't have had al my diaper stuff with me either, just the 1 or two I may have needed on the plane, the rest would have been in my luggage that was sent before me. That makes no sense.to me! The couple should be reimbursed for sure, though I would have purposefully have changed the baby right on the airline seat if they were being that anal about it all. If I were already int he bathroom changing the baby and my hubby yelled i that we'dd miss our plane if I didn't hurry I would have bagged everything walked through the security check with the baby bottomless and diaperless as well, and I don't care if I smear poo or pee on anything, cause they are the ones being stupid about it.

Stifler's - posted on 11/09/2010

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No. That was unfortunate and sucks for them but no one would give a shit if it was someone who had vomiting and diarrhoea and missed their flight, they would be mad that they were late to their destination or run the risk of stuffing up the flight patterns. I would have grabbed a spew rag and held it around the baby and got on the plane then changed it on the plane and threw it all in a plastic bag until we got where we were going. Poo is no big deal to me. And no if they don't reimburse anyone else who misses their flight because of unfortunate circumstances why should they reimburse them.

Jessica - posted on 11/09/2010

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OMG yes the airline is wrong! They just had to change a diaper- they could have waited that couple extra minutes until they were back, it would not have killed anyone to do that. Airlines have longer delays than that all the time, its really not a big deal... I agree with Rhea, I have to wonder if we aren't getting the whole story. Even after everyone loads and they close the gate tot he plane, the plane doesn't take off right away- you're usually sitting there for at least another 20-30 minutes while people put their luggage away, get situated, the pilot waits for the runway to clear, etc. There's no reason they couldn't have let them on.

[deleted account]

I agree with the unloading of the luggage (for some reason I skimmed over that and didn't see it). But for some reason I don't think they're telling the whole story (I never do with ppl who complain to the newspaper). Angry customers tend to embellish facts. Ie. 2 minutes could have been 20 in reality.

Tracey - posted on 11/09/2010

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I can see both sides, the airline was quick to give the seats away but they have to keep to a schedule. The parents could not have predicted the nappy change but they were under the impression they had time to change the baby.
They only had enough baby supplies for one night? Do your airports and toilets not sell spare nappies & wipes, surely there are shops in the airport that sell these? I'm sure they could have bought a couple of tins of baby food, nappies, wipes and a clean babygrow for about $10?
If I were them I would take the $800 travel vouchers and next time change the baby on the plane if the alternative is that you miss the flight. A dirty nappy might stink and be uncomfortable but it is not life threatening.

[deleted account]

They broke the law by not removing their luggage from the plane.

If a person hasn't checked in by deadline then yes I agree that they miss their flight but by the fact that there luggage was already on-board that wasn't the case.
It takes atleast 20 minutes to remove luggage. 5 minutes to change a babies nappy and clothes.

Poor customer service standards. They should atleast be reimbursed for the cost of being left bag less.

Becky - posted on 11/08/2010

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When I heard the story, I told my husband that if I ever fly Alaska airlines and my child dirties his diaper, I'm just going to change it right there on the ticket desk! Then they can't accuse me of not being there at boarding time!

Becky - posted on 11/08/2010

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But they were actually there, and the husband explained what was happening. I'm sure if she'd changed the baby on the seat of the plane, there would've been some complaints!

And I've actually sat on the tarmack in Dallas for over 45 minutes while an airline pulled luggage off the plane for passengers who decided not to take the flight because they'd missed their cruise (because the flight was already delayed due to bad weather). If they can inconvenience all the other passengers for that, then I'm sure they could've waited 1 minute for a family to finish changing their baby's diaper. I read another article on it, and it was originally only the wife's ticket that was given away, the husband was offered the opportunity to still get on the plane. So boarding wasn't even finished yet!

Editted to add: They should have at least removed their luggage. It's illegal to carry luggage without the passenger on board - they could be intending to blow up the plane and "missing" their flight on purpose.

[deleted account]

No, I don't think the airline was wrong. You're late (no matter what the reason), you lose your seats. That's the way it works for everyone (and no I don't believe parents should get special privileges in this case). So, no I also don't think they should be reimbursed.

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