Imagine you're a flight attendant working in first class, as the plane is preparing to take off. A mother is trying to calm her screaming baby, but things only seem to get worse. Other passengers are noticeably frustrated, as they paid for a premium experience and this is...less than premium.
What would you do?
That's the scenario that Delta employees faced on a recent flight, when Arielle Noa Charnas, her husband, and 9-month-old baby traveled from New York City to Los Angeles.
"My husband and I paid for first class so that we'd have the extra space and could lay down with her--once we were boarded I was getting tons of eye rolls and head shakes from fellow passengers...because my baby was crying (as if I could just look at Ruby and say okay now it's time to stop)," wrote Charnas.
"I tried to ignore the people until 10 minutes passed and a flight attendant came over to me and asked me and my baby to move to the back of the plane (as if the people in the back didn't matter). Give up our seats that we paid for and move...I started crying because I was so stressed and anxious and instead of the stewardess being helpful and compassionate she instead made the situation worse."
As a parent of two small children, I empathize with Mrs. Charnas. I've been there (crying baby on a crowded flight), and I know what it feels like to have all eyes focused on you.
But one thing she said gave me pause:
"A flight attendant came over to me and asked me and my baby to move to the back of the plane..."
According to Mrs. Charnas Instagram post, the flight attendant was actually asking that she and her daughter give up their first-class seats and move to economy.
I find this troubling.
I would have no problem with the flight attendant asking my child and I to temporarily move to the back, perhaps in an effort to give the child some movement and rock her to sleep. First class may have more legroom, but there's only so far you can walk back and forth. (After all, not every flight attendant can be this woman.)
Of course, it's possible that's exactly what happened, and what we have here is a big misunderstanding. On the other hand, if Delta really expected Charnas to give up her seat for the whole flight, I can imagine how distressing this would be.
[I reached out to both parties for comment, and will update as soon as I hear something.]
In an interview with Us Weekly, Charnas said she and the baby refused to leave first class.
"We rocked her and we walked her up and down the aisles," Charnas relates. "Finally during take-off Ruby fell asleep on my shoulder and was a dream the rest of the flight."
Us also reported that two days ago, Delta's CEO reached out to the family with an apology, a full refund for the tickets, and $300 for each member of the family, to which Charnas responded:
"We appreciated the [gesture.] However, it's still not enough to make up for the awful experience we had."
And that leaves me with only one thing to say:
Hey, Delta, I've got a two-year-old who hates to fly.
For those rewards, you can ask me to move to the back, anytime.