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A Flight of Fantasy?

March 7, 2011

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

14 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2011 8:29 pm

    I hear it was a male flight attendant who binned lil’ Riley. Since the kid has been traumatized by a man, he must now stay with his mother. Makes sense. Down the road, Riley will probably turn out gay with a pronounced SM fetish for being confined in small spaces.

  2. March 8, 2011 1:25 am

    Yeah I’m always a little wary of people who try to cry foul months after something has happened. I read recently that one of the targets for South Park’s satire has decided to sue them….about two years after the episode aired.

  3. March 8, 2011 4:07 am

    You’ve got it, Thomas.

    This sort of thing is everywhere these days, and the puzzle is why “we” (society) allow it to be. Anybody can read any motivation into almost any event or act. It can be paranoid or self-serving. But then, suddenly, it has to be taken seriously. It’s a creeping tyranny of immaturity…

  4. March 8, 2011 8:12 am

    I too don’t believe in such stories. Things like that give me the creeps and are more and more frequent here too.

  5. March 9, 2011 11:11 am

    I totally missed this story, Tom…we’re just watching our PVR’d Conan from last night, and he mentioned it…

    Sad that this kid is being used as a pawn in what is obviously a much bigger issue!


  6. March 9, 2011 1:19 pm

    If she’s not in the same room he calls for her? That’s not trauma, that’s called nap time.

  7. Gail Robertson permalink
    March 9, 2011 5:28 pm

    Tom, having worked in the Justice system (family crimes violence) for years I am sufficiently cynical to actually believe that the hidden agenda is – I must have sole custody of this child and this will punish you. Seen it so often, Gail.

  8. March 10, 2011 6:30 am

    I read that article when it came out. OK, the attendant was in the wrong- and stupid to do it- but I do not believe for a single second that anyone was traumatized except her lawyer who almost didn’t see the dollar signs in this stupid case when the mother didn’t come to him right away instead of waiting all this time.

  9. March 11, 2011 8:08 am

    hhmmmm, me thinks mother has got a plan up her sleeve!!! shame for the kid tho if that is the case. Mind you…..yes 🙂 I have most certainly felt the urge to chuck a kid or two into the overhead locker!! and probably one or two adults too!! hahaha. There is nothing in life more challenging than travelling cheek by jowl with strangers that get on your nerves. I wonder how many ppl have wanted to chuck me into the overhead locker!!
    Love the comments above. seems we are pretty much all agreed then….mama has a problem!

  10. March 11, 2011 10:08 am

    Ol’ Kronos himself was no greater infantophage than divorced people who use their kids as lawsuit-food. And I say that as someone who would cheerfully chuck a whole nursery school full of rug rats into the luggage bins and shut them.

    I’m still watching this go on with the youngest of the only two kids I could ever stand. I wish the parents involved could be detailed, as Will Rogers suggested be required of heads of warring states, to go into a ring and fight it out directly with socks full of s**t.

    • March 13, 2011 11:47 am

      True–if we listened to Will Rogers there would be no war and no lawyers!
      As far as rug rats in the overhead bins, who is brave enough to do a post on kids on airplanes?

  11. March 11, 2011 4:14 pm

    I love the stories BEHIND the stories. By the way, that bin looks comfier than most airline seats. At least you can stretch your legs. Just might sneak up there, myself next time I fly. I, too, have been traumatized in flight, primarily because we passengers are nothing more than cattle with credit cards!

    • March 13, 2011 11:48 am

      It would probaby be more comfortable and quieter. But they might forget to feed you. Oh, wait, they already do that!

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