A Flight of Fantasy?
You remember last year when that JetBlue flight attendant in the US got 15 minutes of fame by telling off a passenger, grabbing a couple of beers and leaving via the emergency slide?
Well, flight attendant behaviour is back in the news. The headline in the newspaper today was:
Toddler Placed in Plane’s Locker
Flight Attendant Sacked (A3)
Just as the editors of the newspaper hoped, the headline grabbed my attention and I immediately opened the paper to page A3 to find out more. As I flipped the pages I wondered what sort of set of strange circumstances could have contributed to the kid getting stowed.
Of course my fervent hope was that the kid was being a perfect monster and that the flight attendant had taken pity on the passengers.
Don’t tell me you haven’t thought of it before.
As is usually the case, however, the reality was neither as simple nor as satisfying as my expectations. The mother, who, please note, is more key to the story than the kid, claims that on a Virgin Blue flight from Fiji to Sydney with her now estranged (emphasis mine) husband, the now unemployed flight attendant picked up 17 month old Riley and chucked him in the overhead bin.
Just like that.
The airline offered the mother three free flights. But she claims she is “too shaken” to redeem them.
The official story of the airline is that the father (the now estranged husband) had been playing peek-a-boo with little Riley and the game “involved the overhead compartment” and that somehow the flight attendant joined in.
The mother doesn’t say anything about a game of peek-a-boo and the now estranged husband is not quoted or referred to further in the article.
The bottom line is that a quick reading of the article doesn’t tell you what happened. Or even if anything really did happen. The mother asserts that little Riley was in the overhead bin for “up to ten seconds.” And the article says that the rest of the passengers were laughing, which leads me to think that Riley was probably having fun,too.
But you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out the real story behind the story.
The incident occurred when Riley was 17 months old. Today, when his story has gone public, he is 30 months old. That means that his happened a little over a year ago. During the incident, the now estranged husband was part of the picture, so presumably the estrangement has taken place since the incident. And I’m guessing that custody might be an issue.
So the article dutifully closes with the mother’s plaintive recitation of how damaged little Riley is from his ten second sojourn in the bowels of the overhead bin. She claims that she cried “for days” after the incident and that Riley has been seeing “specialists” because he suffers from “anxiety and withdrawal.”
Not only that, according to the mother, “He won’t leave my sight now. He sleeps with me. If I’m not in the same room as him, he will scream and yell, ‘Mum, mum, mum.”
Who can say how badly little Riley has been traumatized, if at all, but it seems a little unusual that this issue should surface a full year after it occurred. And I can’t help but think that there is a hidden agenda.
Doesn’t Look Too Scary