Was there ever a time that flying the skies was truly friendly? Nowadays, you just try to cling to your seat until take off, praying you won’t get boot-stomped for wearing leggings in the aisle. A Houston mom named Mei Rui is the newest alleged victim of an airline’s naked hostility towards its customers. She claims that on Friday she was kicked off a Spirit Airlines flight because her baby was crying.
The Washington Post reports that Rui was traveling with her elderly parents and 2-year-old son from Houston to New York. In addition to being a concert pianist, Rui has degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, a Grammy nomination, and is a cancer researcher. All this and she still managed to make it to a flight scheduled to leave at 6:30 am, so she could participate in a recording related to a cancer study in New York. When the flight was delayed due to weather, her son became restless, so she decided to breastfeed him, hoping he’d fall asleep by the time the airplane’s door closed.
Rui says she was approached by a flight attendent, who told her to strap in her baby:
“I asked for just a couple more minutes to finish because if he woke up at that point he would have made a lot of noise,” Rui said. “I said, ‘I promise I’ll finish before you close the plane’s door.’”
Rui says she saw flight attendants talking about her at the front of the plane, so she stopped breastfeeding and strapped him in. At that point, he started to cry as she predicted. She was approached again, and told she and her family would have to deboard. Rui caught most of the altercation on her phone, including being confronted by a wall of airport security outside the gate of the plane after she and her family were forced off. She asks for an explanation and is told “you were not compliant.”
“Could you tell me which part of the instruction we were not compliant with?” she asked as her son continued to cry. “I think we deserve to know that.”
But the airline representative declined to give more details.
“If this happened to your family.” Rui said.
But the airline representative cut her off. “It wouldn’t happen to my family, I can assure you.”
In the interview with KHOU 11 below, Rui admits that her son was making a lot of noise but adds “that’s not criminal.”
Look, I hate crying babies on an airplane, but they are tiny humans who occasionally need to be transferred from one place to another. Deal with it. The stress of the day wasn’t over either. Their baggage was not returned, and when they finally got back to their home, Rui’s father collapsed and had to be rushed to the hospital.
Spirit Airlines has refunded Rui’s money, but it stands by the decision of the flight crew:
“Our records indicate a passenger was removed from Flight 712 after refusing to comply with crew instructions several times during taxi to runway and safety briefing. To protect the safety of our guests and crew, FAA regulations and airline policies require all passengers to stay seated and buckled during takeoff and landing. We apologize for any inconvenience to our guests. As a courtesy, we’ve issued a full refund to the passenger in question.”
Rui missed her chance to participate in the cancer study. There is no amount of good or hard work you can do that will protect you from the capricious wardens of the sky.