Monday, September 17, 2007

Mom and child kicked off airplane

Tune in to Dr. Phil tomorrow, September 18th at 5:00 pm to hear more about the case of a mother and child who were kicked off an airplane because of a flight attendant’s intolerance.

Kate Penland and her 19 month old toddler, Garrin, both from Atlanta, set out to visit Kate’s father in celebration of Father’s Day on June 16th of this year. After sitting through a nearly 11 hour weather delay in Houston, they boarded their last leg, a Continental Flight to Oklahoma City. Garrin, the toddler, was understandably a bit irritable and tired. His mom, Kate attempted to divert his attention by pointing out the plane next to them through the window. As they pulled from the gate, Garrin said, “Bye-bye plane,” several times.

According to Ms. Penland, the flight attendant, Erika Sikorski, told Kate that she needed to "shut your baby up." Ms. Sikorski made it clear that she didn't want to deal with Garrin for the hour-flight to Oklahoma City. When Kate said she would do the best she could to quiet the child, Ms. Sikorski responded by saying, "It’s called Baby Benedryl!" Kate told the flight attendant that she was not going to drug her child. Ms. Sikorski said that they were bothering the other passengers. When the passengers disputed this, Ms. Sikorski said that the plane was "her plane" and she was in charge. She then apparently reported to the pilot that Kate had threatened her and needed to be removed from the plane.

With absolutely no investigation or verification by the pilot, it was announced that they were returning to the gate and that Kate and Garrin would be removed from the flight. The mother and her toddler were taken from the plane and stranded, again, in Houston until the next day. Ms. Penland said that she requested to retrieve her checked baggage so that she could provide care to her toddler and to herself and was refused.

Kate Penland attempted to contact Continental Airlines several times and was ignored. She then asked for help from GTLA member Steve Goldman and he is now representing her. Tomorrow on Dr. Phil, Kate Penland will tell her story.

When this story first broke, similar stories began to emerge about Passengers' Rights on an airplane-- especially in this post 9-11 world. For more information regarding what is being done on Federal level to address these concerns visit The Coalition for Airplane Passenger Rights.

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