Video footage from Illinois shows a father and his young daughter being forced off of a plane just before the aircraft was set to depart on Thursday, March 15.
Southwest Airlines Flight 1683 was scheduled to leave for Atlanta from Chicago when the toddler became anxious about flying.
The girl was sitting in her father’s lap because she was too scared to sit in her own seat, according to Alexis Armstrong, 24, a fellow passenger who recorded the footage.
Armstrong, a mother herself, said the girl was getting unruly but a flight attendant came by to try to calm her down.
Soon enough, though, the father and child were removed from the plane despite the situation appearing to be resolved.
The child “had a fit for about 3 mins … WHILE still boarding and people seating,” Armstrong told Inc. “Then the flight attendant in red came over and said she needs to calm and sit or will be escorted off… The man calms the child gets her popcorn sets her up.”
A few minutes later the captain announced the plane would be returning to the terminal, and the father and child were forced off.
Armstrong became angry after one of the attendants told her to “shut up” after the mother was one of multiple people to object to the removal.
“With a two-year-old, you’re not going to give her like two minutes to sit?” another passenger can be heard saying in the video.
Armstrong also says she was told by another attendant that she needed to stop filming, or she would be kicked off of the plane next.
After the father and toddler were removed, an attendant addressed the rest of the passengers.
“We’re cleared for departure,” the attendant said. “We all need to understand the operation, unfortunately. This is not helpful guys. Do you want to go to Atlanta? The decision’s been made.”
Armstrong said that she hopes Southwest apologizes for what she did.
“All I really wanted was it to be seen by [Southwest] and apologize to this family, I am a mom and my heart was hurting for this dad. Southwest owes them an apology,” Armstrong said. “I did NOT think this would blow up, I am not sure why I even began to film, I just knew from the woman’s attitude and security approaching it wasn’t going to end well.”
According to CW39, Southwest released a statement after the video circulated widely.
“After pushback Wednesday evening, Flight 1683 to Atlanta returned to the gate at Midway to allow supervisors to board the aircraft. Our initial reports indicate a conversation escalated on board between the crew and a customer traveling with a small child,” the company said.
“We always aim for a welcoming and hospitable experience and regret the inconvenience to all involved. The traveling party was booked on the next flight to Atlanta after the original flight continued as planned. We will reach out to the customer[s] to listen to any concerns they have about their experience and look forward to welcoming them on board again soon.”