Last week we posted the story of Elit Kirschenbaum, a mother who said that United Airlines ‘humiliated’ her family because of the way they were treated on a flight. If you recall their young daughter, Ivy, is a 3-year old stroke survivor that is incapable of sitting up on her own. Elit said that the way that a flight attendant treated her family and initially not allowing Ivy to sit with them for take off in business class for the flight from Punta Cana to Newark was “humiliating”, became a “circus” and ultimately caused an hour flight delay.When they got home, the Kirschenbaums started a social media campaign against United Airlines titled #unitedwithivy . At first, there seemed to be outrage against United, but it has quickly turned into backlash against the family for not using a car seat on the plane, and for ticketing their 4 children in coach while the parents were ticked up front. And to add to it, Yahoo.com/Travel published an article from Hallie Levine titled “I’m a Special Needs Parent, Too — But #UnitedWithIvy Mom Was So Wrong”
In the article, labeled a Rant, Levine suggested that the Kirschenbaum family should have traveled with a car seat, saying, “there are even FAA approved car seats specifically designed for kids with conditions such as cerebral palsy.”
In the article, Levine offered this take on the situation:
While I’m not a detective, or a mind reader, my guess on what happened is this: the parents upgraded to first class and stuck their kids in coach, not so they could leave their four screaming, sniveling, crying darlings in economy for some kindly stranger to babysit while they got blissfully blotto on free cocktails up front, but because they had planned to hold Ivy throughout the flight and wanted to have a little extra leg room for the ride. They even admit they’d gotten away with it before. But when a certain flight attendant (a.k.a. Ms. Grinch) became a stickler for the rules, she unleashed a monster — literally. Before Kirschenbaum took her twitter feed down, she proudly stated she’d told a certain flight attendant she’d be out of a job.
Could the flight attendant shown more tact? Probably. But while she may have crappy social skills, she was in the right: federal safety regulations clearly require any child over the age of two to have their own seat. She might have been a b**ch, but she was just doing her job. The parents reportedly fought with the attendant for an hour — delaying the plane and forcing some passengers to miss their connecting flights — until the pilot finally emerged from the cockpit and suggested Ivy lie belted across her father’s lap for the duration of the flight.
Social media is a powerful tool, and the tide of social media seems to be turning against the Kirschenbaum family. No matter which side you are on in the debate of the Kirschenbaums versus United, its been interesting to see what seemed to be sympathy at first for the family turn into outrage against them.