Airline Bans Family After Toddler Drops Chips On Floor, Spits Up After Flight

Airline JSX has banned a family from travel, cancelling the return portion of their trip, after their toddler “dropped some chips on the ground” and then threw up as they were deplaning the Embraer-145 aircraft.

This has proven highly contentious. Reactions from some travelers has been to applaud the airline, and say they’re more likely to fly JSX – the scheduled charter service that flies to and from private terminals – while others are appalled at cancelling a family’s travel plans because of something that happens from time to time with a young child.

Kids can be messy. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, though it’s not unreasonable for the carrier to want passengers to control (and clean up after) their children. And a child who makes a mess and spits up after one flight might impose those same cleaning costs and possible delay and inconvenience for passengers (both on that flight and the next) on subsequent legs of a journey.

The airline confirms that they don’t abide this behavior, and consider the decision appropriate – to protect themselves and other passengers. According to a JSX spokesperson,

JSX reserves the right to refuse travel to any customers who create a threat to the well-being of our Crewmembers and fellow Customers. While we regret to inconvenience anyone, the safety of our operation remains our paramount priority and appropriate actions are taken, when required, to maintain such an environment.

As the father of a young child I was fortunate to travel all over the world with her, and fortunate that she was a relative breeze. However travel was limited during some of what would have been her most challenging periods by the pandemic.

Is it the case that how you feel about this decision depends on whether you’re a parent or not, or whether you’re the parent of a current toddler or not? I’ve certainly really enjoyed flying JSX and would do so again. But they’ve certainly put parents on notice: you’re responsible for your child’s behavior, and they should be held to the same standard as adults. And not for nothing but I’ve flown with several adult passengers who should be banned under this standard as well. Airline JSX has banned a family from travel, cancelling the return portion of their trip, after their toddler “dropped some chips on the ground” and then threw up as they were deplaning the Embraer-145 aircraft.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If the chips and such were as minimal as the mom apparently claimed and the parents were conscientious about the cleanup, the airline wouldn’t have had a reason to ban them. Do the math.
    There is no excuse for anyone to leave a mess on an aircraft, be he man, woman or child. Yet many do so, feeling it’s their right because they paid for their fare;
    Others do it to be spiteful because doesn’t everyone love to hate the airlines?

  2. Self righteous stuck up snobs that probably don’t raise their own children. “There must be more to the story.” Why, so you can find comfort in agreeing that “a child shouldn’t fly”? I’m tired of the upper class.

    There’s no reason she should have been banned. It’s life. You own a business, you know it’s going to happen. It’s part of airfare. Does that give someone the right to be blatantly messy, no. Most adults are worse than children. Entitled.

  3. As one who had to endure 12-14 hour deadheads, infants and children in F and J are rarely welcome by most travelers. Once had a father pass out ear plugs to surrounding passengers. What a way to start a midnight flight from NAN to LAX. It didn’t help. Should have passed out Bose noise cancelling headsets. Upgrading your family . . . just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

  4. Maybe Gary should be banned for libel, given he didn’t bother to get more facts. Why can’t the mother in the story post pictures of the aircraft if 2 napkins really could have cleaned it, or is that too because her hands were full?

  5. The problem is that she flew JSX, which does not have overhead storage bins, and I can understand her not wanting to gate-check her baby.

  6. She should have cleaned up her kids’ messes! Entitled Karen! More to the story I’m sure!

  7. I’m a school bus driver, ( yes I know not the same) but I deal with the same mess kids leave behind, when they are older. They think it’s ok to leave it or Do It. Because that’s part of a driver’s job, to clean up.. after them.

  8. As someone who has worked for an airline 12+ years. I’ve seen plenty. Yes, sometimes people get sick on a flight. We’ve all have dropped “a few chips” every now and again. I’m 89% sure the “few chips” that were dropped were also crushed to tiny pieces. Parents definitely let their kids have free reign as long as they keep quiet. If it means leaving a mess, so be it. Many adults in First Class are just as messy. “Banned” is a strong word, they were simply “Not invited to travel with JSX ever again”.

  9. You know there is much more to the story than this.

    Likely the kid was cranky long before they threw up on the way out.

    People fly that airline to AVOID the noisy messy masses.

    Good on the airline for not trying to setting the story straight, but merely repeating their policy. Shows class.

  10. My son is now 18 but when he was an infant we traveled all over the place with him. However, I was always cognizant of his behavior and how his behavior affected anybody around me. For example, there was no kicking seats or poking fingers or feet through seats and I always told the aircraft to see this all the way in the back so we were close to the bathroom and less annoying of other passengers. I’m sure there’s more to this story than meets the eye, but I find it incredulous how so many parents just let their children do horrible behavior on planes nowadays with no repercussions to how it affects anybody else on a flight.

  11. January 1, 2023
    I have traveled all over. Flying, bus, and train. With and w/o my children. Not all parents care how their children act. Other parents worry them self sick about children’s behavior. My experience has been, 75% of the parents just give up teaching their kids to behave, too much trouble! Put on you ear buds and listen to music.
    I do wonder if JAX was a bit too fast in their decision? What’s the rest of the story??

  12. I am a mom. Everywhere I took my daughter I ALWAYS made sure the area we were in was picked up. Always. It only takes just a minute or two to pick up. It A) sets an example to your kid that NOBODY is here to pick up after you and B) is couteous. Not hard to do. So yeah, if any business wants to kick these people out, let them. I get so tired if watching people use the excuse of having kids to be cheesy and rude.

  13. If I was the airline owner i will do the same. Control your kids and respect others people property

  14. This standard should also be held up in restaurants. Some parents let their children completely decimate a table or booth.

  15. This company has changed. It has not been consistent from what it has advertised. The customer service and constant delays has been noticed by the customers.

  16. I traveled all over the world with my children. They were taught appropriate behavior for when on flights, in restaurants, and social venues.
    This is just courtesy, that many seem to be oblivious to.

  17. As a private business, that (any) airline is perfectly within its rights to have a policy of “no passengers under 10 years of age” or something like that, should they so desire.

    When I was flying a lot for work, I would have >cheerfully< paid a premium for a flight with that kind of guarantee. I needed that time to work or, if I was lucky, to catch a nap.

  18. Not the same, but similar enough… During college (late 80’s) I worked in a gourmet cookie shop in the elite part of town in a very upscale mall. We were required to have everything cleaned, til counted, floor mopped, and the gate locked within a half hour of closing. Families would come in at 5 minutes to, expecting fresh cookies and they would sit at a table and allow their children to throw cookie bits (spilling juice/pop, smashing chocolate bits, smearing dirty hands everywhere) on the freshly-mopped floor. For a $5 sale, I would need to remop a quarter of the floor and still try to make it out on time. I would certainly have banned those customers “for life” if I could have. I get it, and yes, video needed as I’m sure there are two sides to this.

  19. I’m the mom from the post, and would like to clarify a few things, especially if it might help future families make a choice to use or not use JSX. Many of the assumptions made about my family and me are untrue although I can see why people would jump to the conclusion that we are egregious people given the outcome of getting banned!

    In terms of our interactions with the crew member, my husband said he could see her turn on us a bit when the two year old dropped the chip into the aisle. She said it would be a pain to clean up because someone stepped on it and he apologized. I had a brief interaction with her when she offered us drinks. I quickly (and I thought politely) declined drinks for the kids because I brought them their own water bottles so they wouldn’t spill anything. I also gave her our trash when she came around. Again, what I thought were normal interactions. It is worth mentioning that I heard her complaining to another passenger about having to work on Christmas a few days later so it is possible we just caught her on a bad day?

    Kids were mostly well-behaved, but our two-year old (the one who dropped the chip) did cry at one point. Not a tantrum or anything, but she cried for a few minutes. I was sitting behind her (with the infant on my lap, next to our older child) and my husband doesn’t remember at this point what it was about. This is age appropriate behavior and not as bad as what I’ve seen elsewhere. The airline knew her age when they sold us her ticket. My four year old son was quietly watching his tablet the entire time. The baby was good as well – cried at one point and I quickly settled her. I was even able to read a little since they were doing fine.

    It seems the worst infraction was the baby spit up. Not sure I could’ve prevented this one unfortunately. For those of you who have not flown with a baby before, you need to feed them on the way up and down to encourage them to swallow so their little ears don’t clog. It is NOT vomit and is the same milk that just gets spit back up. I wish I found a way to wipe that up but it didn’t seem very bad and I did not want to hold up others from disembarking. I also had nowhere to put the baby (she doesn’t know how to sit up unassisted yet). At the risk of sounding like an entitled POS, I did assume they’d be cleaning between flights and it did not seem to me like it would require any extra time. When we told the flight attendant about it (and again apologized) she did not indicate that there was a problem.

    We were not perfect, but I don’t believe the punishment fits the “crime”. I thoroughly read their code of conduct (which they linked to in their email to me on Christmas morning) and it does not mention anything about spit up, normal kid behavior, or even vomit.

    I believe a warning would’ve been sufficient and not a ban. Maybe a ban after we completed our trip? Inform us that there is a fee because of the spit up? If the crushed chip or spit up (or perhaps something I am not aware of?) caused any extra fees, I would have covered that cost.

    In case someone is reading this as they consider booking JSX with kids, I’ll leave you with one last tip. Do not leave your car in their lot in case this also happens to you! It was challenging to get to our car when we had to fly another airline home (we can’t just grab a taxi since we need three car seats. It is also not accessible via public transit). I called and emailed JSX several times requesting help with this throughout the week and never heard back.

    Mistakes were made. Lessons were learned. Onwards, and certainly not upwards anytime soon.

  20. @Mom: Superficially, you sound so reasonable, but on Twitter you blocked people who disagreed with you, even when the criticism was reasonable. So your explanation here now looks like you ban people when you can, but change tactics and try a ‘de minimus’ explanation of events when you can’t.

    It doesn’t smell of sincerity I am afraid.

  21. I was taking all the comments on Twitter very personally and did block people. I am not very familiar with the platform, and also think I do not belong there (I’m too sensitive). I thought that blocking only meant that I wouldn’t see their posts – I don’t think if you block someone that other people also can’t see their posts or replies?

    Anyway, it does seem like you and I have different opinions on what’s reasonable because the people I blocked I found to be quite hurtful and unkind. While I don’t expect you to believe me, I am a nice person.

  22. @Mom: Airlines are not in the business of banning passengers. Your experience with JSX is a one-off experience, i.e., we do not hear reports of mass banning of parents traveling with children.

    Why did they decide to pick on you? Even a flight attendant in a bad mood could not accomplish a banning. The fact that it took a couple of days indicates the incident was reviewed by management.

    I simply do not find it credible that JSX banned you for a single chip on the floor and a small amount of milk regurgitated by an infant.

    While you may feel the banning was not warranted and wish to harm them in the court of public opinion, I believe JSX under these circumstances.

  23. JSX is legit. I fly with them often. These passengers are probably the same people that sit in the airport lounges for hours as they sleep and their kids are going ballistic screaming and running around like monkeys. If you have this age of kids just go to the lounge get what you need and leave and let your kid run wild in the concourse. Nobody will even notice. Kids can be messy jerks only if you let them. Fly JSX you will love it.

  24. I have been considering JSX for a while. It’s not an airline for children really. I think there is more to this story though, I am sure the adults were as unruly as the child.

  25. As someone who was janitor, mechanic, maintenance, and detailer for a smaller charter company, I’d rather clean up after kids. I have spent hours on my hands and knees removing alcohol, blood, and other bodily fluids from surfaces on top of trying to turn and maintain an aircraft for the next flight. I’ll take some spit up and chips any day over drunk Uncle Jimmy spilling a goddamn drink on the carpet, or pissing anywhere but where it belongs in the bathroom. Kids are easy, adults are like wild animals.

  26. This is EXACTLY the kind of circumstance people pay big bucks to fly on JSX and get away from.

    Kudos to JSX for thinking of their customer base first and foremost.

    I’m sure there is more to the story, like the baby crying the whole time.

  27. Right off the bat I can see where these people are coming from. With 1×1 seating, they have a 4-year old sitting essentially by himself.

    Can you say “entitled”?

  28. Ohhhhhhh! My mistake!

    Not a 4 year old. A 2 year old sitting by herself.

    “She cried for ‘a few minutes’.”

  29. A lap infant, a 2-year old and 4 -year old on a JSX 30-seat 1×1 configured plane…

    What could possibly go wrong with all that “age appropriate behavior”?

    People choose JSX to avoid that kind of Southwest Airlines environment and even if you can afford the big bucks you pay for 4 JSX seats, that doesn’t mean your kids are miraculously free from “age appropriate behavior.”

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