A United Airlines passenger was left “beyond infuriated” when a cabin crew manager said her baby’s crying was “completely unacceptable” during a flight from Sydney to San Francisco on Tuesday 25 September.
Krupa Patel Bala was travelling with her eight-month-old son and husband in business class on flight UA 870 when the infant began to cry in his bassinet.
After five minutes, the flight attendant manager came over and, according to Bala, “yelled” at her husband, saying it was “absolutely unacceptable” for the baby to cry for so long.
The first-time mum wrote a lengthy Facebook post about the experience from the plane, paying $28.99 for inflight wi-fi to share her story.
Bala said she raised the issue with the crew member, Linda, explaining that being told to make her baby stop crying was quite stressful.
Linda said they could discuss it in economy class, where Bala claims she was told it was part of the rule book that babies are not allowed to cry for more than five minutes as it “really stresses the crew out”.
Bala wrote: “Funny; it also really stresses me out when the baby cries – I don’t actually enjoy it, go figure.
“Oh, and we asked a few other crew members if we disturbed them and they had zero idea what we were talking about.”
Bala, who worked for Facebook before having her son, said there were more constructive ways the manager could have managed the situation: “She could have asked us to walk the baby around, tactfully shared that it was starting to disturb passengers, or really ANYTHING with a smile that acknowledged that we weren’t out to make everyone (including us) suffer.
“Her response to that was to tell me that it didn’t matter because it was just unacceptable for the baby to cry and as the parent, I need to control him.”
She said the family would “never fly United again”.
“Parents of newborns have it hard enough already travelling with a baby and we certainly don’t need crew managers piling on when we are doing our best to ensure we’re containing our children and their cries,” she added.
United Airlines apologised for the incident in a statement: “We’ve been in touch with our customer via social media and United representatives met the family upon arrival to apologise, offer a refund and make clear that the experience she relayed doesn’t reflect our commitment to serving our customers, including our youngest customers.
“Young families are welcome on our flights, including in business class. We are continuing to review the incident internally and the flight attendant is being held out of service pending the investigation.”
Bala updated her Facebook post after United had been in touch, saying: “Over the last day, we have spoken with numerous representatives from United. Like the captain and rest of the cabin crew, they are all lovely, kind, wonderful humans.
“(The flight attendant) is the exception and not the norm – and for what it’s worth, she remains unapologetic. From what I understand, United is handling the situation and ensuring that no one else ever has an experience like ours where a flight attendant makes up her own rules.”
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