TODAY   |  March 12, 2012

Toddler’s tantrum gets family kicked off flight

The family removed from a JetBlue flight because their daughter wouldn’t settle down at takeoff tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer why they feel it was an unfair. NBC’s Savannah Guthrie reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> let's begin with a family kicked off a jetblue flight . their 2-year-old daughter was having a temper tantrum . we'll talk to the family in a moment. first savannah guthrie has the story. good morning.

>> matt, good morning to you. when a child throws a tantrum on the plane it can be frustrating but the family says this time it was the airline that didn't show compassion. dr. colette view and her family had just finished a vacation when they boarded a jetblue flight to boston. once on the plane they were at the center of a travel nightmare when 2-year-old natalie grew antsy.

>> she started throwing the tantrum of her life. didn't want to be seated. didn't want the belt on. my husband was trying to control her. the flight is trying to leave. we were told you need to comply with faa regulations . have your daughter seated with her belt fastened.

>> reporter: dr. view said three to five minutes passed from the time the tantrum began to when she was buckled in and settled but she said the flight attendant delivered surprising news.

>> she said, the pilot's made the decision to turn the plane around. we were escorted off the plane. no more flights were leaving that night. we had nowhere to stay. rebooked on another flight the next day.

>> reporter: in a statement, jetblue said the flight had customers that did not comply with crew member instructions for a prolonged time period . the captain elected to remove the customers involved for the safety of all customers and crew members on board. dr. view said she was surprised by how the airline handled the situation.

>> we weren't belligerent, drunk, angry, screaming. you know, we were just having a hard time struggling with our children. a little bit of humanity in this situation is all i was looking for. apparently that doesn't exist.

>> we asked people to vote on whether the family should have been removed the plane. 71% sided with the airline.

>> savannah guthrie , thank you very much. dr. view and her husband dr. stalk are with us exclusively along with 2-year-old natalie , the one with the tantrum and 3-year-old cecilia. good morning.

>> good morning.

>> i don't know if you heard. 71% of people in an online poll sided with the airline on this one. how do you feel about that?

>> i guess everybody's entitled to their opinion. we thought it was a difficult experience for us. we weren't sure it was fair. you know, it was hard. we did our best to comply with faa regulations .

>> take me back. this happened a few weeks ago. by the way, you're a pediatrician, you're a doctor. you have seen your share of tantrums.

>> at home and work.

>> why was this one different? was this above and beyond , worse than you had seen in the past?

>> certainly not. it's a timely issue, i guess. she was -- she didn't want to sit in her seat. she wanted me to hold her. on previous flights i have held her. she hadn't had a nap. she's 2.

>> in terms of the disruption, the plane had not taken off yet. let's make sure we understand that.

>> it wasn't near the tarmac.

>> how was the crew dealing with it at the time the tantrum was taking place?

>> the crew was asking us to comply with faa regulations and to get her seated and strapped in because we wouldn't be able to take off. we were explaining that we were trying -- say hi. we were trying to do so and doing our best. we were asked to switch seats so i would sit next to natalie and my husband would be next to cecilia. in terms of the people around us, i'm sure people were frustrated. i can only speak for the only people who said anything were sitting right behind us. they were trying to advocate for us.

>> i've been there. i've been on planes when my children aren't behaving well. your level of discomfort was what?

>> very high. very disconcerting. surreal, too. i couldn't believe this was happening.

>> it was after you calmed natalie down that the crew came over and said, you're going to have to leave the plane.

>> we were seated at that time back. they were only a couple of rows behind us. the flight attendant was right there. i got natalie strapped in. i turned to her and said, we have her under control. can we go now? she said, the decision's been made.

>> let me play airline advocate. if this had happened during the time when the plane is lurching down the rounway to take off or when they are in flight it might be disruptive. do you say sooe their side?

>> i understand they have a concern for safety and security of the aircraft. i guess the part i don't understand when i look at it is we had her under control. so i can't -- i have been on that flight with my children 14 times before. it was never an issue. i can't say what was going to happen in the future. i had her under control. if that was the issue at that point. i guess my second thing is i don't quite understand why she's a risk to safety and security of the aircraft, in general. we're at the back of the plane. she's in my arms or seated. at that point, why is she a risk?

>> in terms of you would have appreciated compassion considering this was the last flight out of your location that evening. you had to spend the night and fly out the next day.

>> right.

>> lessons learned in this?

>> control your child.

>> i don't know. maybe we won't fly anymore? who knows?

>> i hope you do continue