As one of the thousands of Passover travelers preparing to make my way back home from Florida to the tri-state area, I started my trek this morning watching the frightening video of a family being removed from a Spirit Airlines flight from Orlando. The scene was all to familiar to Jewish travelers everywhere. Today it was an innocent maskless 2 year old eating a yogurt. Last month it was an 18 month old committing the same “offense.”
After publicly embarrassing the family by removing them and then everyone from the plane, Spirit finally came to their senses and let the “offending” 2 year old and her family back on the flight. Understanding the public relations nightmare unfolding, Spirit actually removed the complaining flight attendant to cheers from the passengers. Unfortunately the damage was done. Mothers of small children like myself saw the video of the now all-too- familiar scene, and were faced with our own anxiety as we boarded our various flights today. Would we be the next family singled out & humiliated for flying while Jewish? Thankfully that wasn’t our experience on JetBlue today. On the contrary.
Like everything else in life, it’s all about the people. Flight attendants can make or break one’s traveling experience, especially during covid. So as I boarded with my small children in tow, I kept reminding them how important it was for them to keep their masks on, while silently praying the flight crew was child friendly and understood the impossibility of negotiating with a 2 or 3 year old. The trip was uneventful, even pleasant. And for that I felt a sense of deep relief and thanks. Then I thought to myself, the world needs to know that these few instances of irrational overreaction from the flights crews of Spirit Air and Frontier are the exception and not the norm. Orthodox Jews aren’t doing anything wrong. My kids and dozens of others on our flight and thousands of flights everywhere acted exactly as young children do. They cried when they were hungry, ate when they were fed and parents did their best to comply with the often impossible flight rules while maintaining a semblance of calm.
Our crew on JetBlue flight 2702 from Ft Lauderdale to JFK was terrific. They were nice, professional and most importantly understanding. Many members of my family and numerous friends who traveled today all did so without incident as well. What happened today on Spirit Air is shameful and the actions of the flight crew should be fully investigated. I have no doubt they will issue some sort of statement blaming the parents, the children or whomever. What we likely won’t see is anyone at Spirit take real responsibility for today’s display of unprofessional behavior.
Times are still scary for sure. But America is coming back. Traveling is still a business and customers have a right to expect to be treated fairly and with dignity. If Spirit Air wants our business, their actions today are a strange way to earn it. I say remember today the next time you book a flight. I certainly will.
A paying customer
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