United Airlines Makes Major League Pitcher’s Wife Clean Popcorn On Her Hands And Knees

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Anthony Bass blasted United Airlines after a flight attendant asked his pregnant wife to clean up her seating area after their two year old daughter spilled popcorn on the floor.

According to Bass, cleaning up after his kids isn’t his wife’s job – that’s for the cleaning crew.

While I do wish airlines still paid as much attention to cleaning in-between flights as early in Covid, generally there are only a few minutes while passengers are deplaning and before the next flight begins boarding for cleaners to tidy up. You’ll often find that very little has been done, even when there are cleaners that are given that much time between flights.

The popcorn was an inflight snack. Judging by the photo this was a regional jet. It would have been sold by United and marketed as United (Express). But technically the flight attendant would have been employed by a regional carrier operating for United.

Here a roughly week-old photo of the family.

Apparently given how high profile the complainer is, United is mollifying the situation and siding with the passengers over the flight crew, as relayed by Bass.

Honestly though asking passengers to clean up after themselves doesn’t seem all that outrageous to me. Indeed it’s an important lesson to teach children, and the flight attendant shouldn’t even have to ask! And as a consequence for making a mess that’s far less significant than being banned from the airline and having your return ticket cancelled which happened to someone on another U.S. air carrier.

Kids can be messy. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, though in my view it’s not unreasonable for the carrier to want passengers to control and clean up after their children. I wonder if 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?

(HT: @Coolrun84)

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. What are the airline’s regulations on this case? But if I had to bring children that young to travel with me, and I am on my own (I am not clear the hubby was present there), I would at least make sure they have all they need to be the least of a nuisance to other passengers, and giving them popcorn would not be in that list! We know children are unpredictable in such closed quarters, if all they did was to spill popcorn around, well count yourself lucky! However, I don’t think the flight hostess should have asked the mother to clean that up, airline tickets are much more expensive now, the airline can and should afford an efficient cleanup crew.

  2. The price of a ticket does not give anyone – let alone some kids associated with some or prima donna athlete or celebrity a right to create a pig pin on a plane or anywhere else.

  3. Let’s get a grip here and look at some facts without all of the CLICK BAIT sensationalism…

    She wasn’t 9 months pregnant and barely able to waddle around- she was completely ccapable of controlling and cleaning up after her kids.

    NOBODY made her “get on her hands and knees” to clean.

    A container full of popcorn in the middle of an aisle on an airplane definitely creates a slip and fall hazard for all of the other passengers.

    Flight attendants have 200-300 passengers to take care of…. it really is NOT all about this woman and her kids….

  4. Entitled generation believes it’s somebody else’s responsibility to do work. My parents taught me to clean up after myself, and I taught my daughter the same. Maybe it’s time he and his wife learn to take responsibility for their children. The flight attendants have their duties for expediency, safety and, lastly, comfort of the passengers.

    My guess is that his wife was angry, and he had to “be the man” and stand up for his wife and bash the airline over social media. He should air his dirty laundry with the airline before sticking it out for us to have to smell.

    It’s unfortunate that popcorn was spilt. I hardly think a 5-yr old be incapable of helping Mom cleanup after the younger sibling. What does she do at home…and how did the 2-yr old be given the chance to spill the popcorn in the first place?

  5. No. It’s about self-entitlement. It’s your kid. It’s your mess. And stop being overly dramatic and airing your grievances on social media. Pretty certain nobody from the airline said get on your hands and knees, But rather that you should clean up after yourself or have your children do it, which is a good lesson to keep the kids from growing up to be a entitled punk like their father.

  6. Insufficient time allotted for professional cleaning in-between flights is not a consumer problem. It is an airline problem. It is inappropriate, especially on the tail end of a global pandemic, for makeshift, consumer -volunteer cleaning.

    For one thing, this is not a restaurant. This is a vehicle hurtling through the air. Does United want to demand that a pregnant woman unbuckle and get on the floor and then hit turbulence? Do the responders so eager to see toddlers cleaning up after themselves really want to see that child turn into a projectile if there’s an unforeseen or unavoidable air-pocket? Or mechanical failure?

    Clearly the answer is very simply: do not serve popcorn on flights with two and five year olds unless the air stewards have floor sweepers.

    Also: if you can’t figure out a way to have a professional crew clean that cabin on the ground, you ought to figure out how they can clean it in the air.

    This is the dumbest conflict ever.

  7. Your kids, your responsibility? You should know better to give kids popcorn most any age in certain public areas.

  8. Why is a 2 year old given popcorn? Major choking hazard on a flight to boot.
    I call B.S. I have never heard of popcorn on a flight.

  9. Good I stand with the airlines because she with someon famous has right to do what they want

  10. Why was the two-year-old not sitting next to a parent to help with messes or behaviors to start with? Your kids are your responsibility. , especially at two when self control is not fully developed. Pay a nanny to travel with you if you don’t want that responsibility. Leaving a mess for someone else to clean is childish even for a parent!

  11. @CShaffer:
    > Entitled generation believes it’s somebody else’s responsibility to do work. My parents taught me […]

    “My parents” indeed. I ask you the same question I did decades ago to people complaining about this very same “entitled generation” (who were school-age at that time) expecting participation trophies: Who exactly were the folks raising this “entitled generation”? Who were the ones handing out the participation trophies? Who were the ones who failed to teach responsibility? It certainly wasn’t the “entitled generation” themselves, so who? Funny how this was always met with indignant silence, deflections, or a quick change of subject.

  12. Made her get on her hands and knees huh..if this isnt the dumbest.. Shes a whole grown woman and IF that was asked of her she would be stupid for doing it. Just clean up after your kids lady or have the kids help to tidy as much as possible. Husband is high profile? Not here he isnt…just screaming entitlement and just finding another way to make the news…Shes got two kids and should know to never give the kids a whole bag of popcorn…just a few at a time.

  13. As a parent I am so sick of people acting like their kids are gods and the world is their trash can. How outraged would this guy be if his family got on a plane and found popcorn all over the place from the previous people? What on earth was he expecting the FA to do, stop service and pick up after his kid? I don’t get it. I taught my kid from an early age to not throw things and if he did, it got taken away. He’s been flying since he was 4 months old and we figured out what worked and didn’t real fast bc if he threw something on a plane, one of us was cleaning it up. Not because someone told us to, but because we are decent human beings who aren’t entitled. And the 20 week pregnant thing is just dumb. Either she is a capable adult taking care of two kids alone on a flight or she isn’t, in which case he or someone else needs to fly with them to help.

    Now that doesn’t absolve the airlines for not cleaning between flights, but that is a separate issue from whether it is a FA job to clean up after messy passengers. It’s not.

  14. What was wrong with the Daddy cleaning up the popcorn? He wasn’t pregnant! I am personally offended that he was offended.

  15. Airlines serve food and drinks just like restaurants. Part of a flight attendants job is clean up food and drink if necessary. They are paid to do that. That is part of the service paid for by the very expensive airplane tickets.
    Especially if they serve messy popcorn. It doesn’t matter who spilled it. I don’t expect my customers to perform any of my job duties. Also do not think it is necessary to teach toddlers about personal responsibility on a tiring confined plane ride. It is enough if they are quiet.

  16. Really? If the airline offers popcorn they assume the risk of it being spilled. How many of you clean up spilled popcorn at the movie theatre? … exactly.

  17. People feel entitled when they fly. Apparently she was flying alone with the two kids. I’ll give her that….but…POPCORN and children = a mess! So she should have been aware as the mess became apparent. Mr BIG SHOT he of NEVER LIFTING A FINGER in the clubhouse or anywhere else he goes should STFU! Cleaning crews are basically only used at the end of an aircraft day on layover. If it was an RJ likely the turnaround is short and they don”t have time to do a thorough clean. The FA probably knew time was of essence so……MOM….learn a lesson from this


  18. Hey A. Bass, how did whining over social media work out for you???
    I can’t believe the entilement some people have these days. Your kids… your mess….YOUR PROBLEM!!!! End of story.
    And, no one is believing that anyone from United told your wife to get on her hands and knees to clean up the mess.
    Just disgusting…..

  19. So who will clean up after these children when the family is at home or anywher else for that matter? I’m sure they are fortunate enough to have some hired help for this.

  20. @Joe. Or you could reserve the cargo space for people named Joe. Remember you were a child once.

  21. Why haven’t we seen any videos from other passengers on the plane about this? Passengers take video of everything. I haven’t seen anything about others who witnessed this. Maybe I missed it.

  22. No wonder he didn’t think his wife & 5 yr old should clean up after themselves. Did you ever get a look at all the trash in a MLB dugout during a game?

  23. I am sure if the popcorn was spilled at disembarking, the woman would not have been askled to clean, the cleaning crew would have done it.

    In the air, spilled popcorn in the aisle is a hazard for other passengers passing through and there is no crew to clean it, because stewards and stewardesses have much other stuff to take care of (except pursers, maybe, they are always the least busy).

  24. I saw another article where the woman’s sister said she was a high risk pregnancy and flying alone with 2 children, High risk pregnancies aren’t allowed to fly, let alone with 2 children. YOU had to clean u0 after your children, boo hoo,

  25. I’m not sure she was force as claimed. She was probably asked to help clean up the mess her child made. I would have picked up way before being asked, no way would I become fodder for the masses. And it’s the proper thing to do.

  26. @Red. I don’t clean crumbs off the table but I do get what I can off of the floor with my hands. There is going to be some stuff to clean up for the employees. I don’t have to make it worse. My son left some fingerprints and smears all over a mirror in a restaurant. I asked the waiter to give me some glass cleaner. He said it was ok. At least I offered. My son and his dad trashed a motel room. He took the attitude that housekeeping can get it up. I got up what I could. Again don’t make it any harder for them than it has to be.

  27. This is ridiculous! What you pay for tickets they should have someone pull out a hand vac or something to clean things up between flights, and should not be asking any man or woman to clean up popcorn off the floor,( the filthy, dirty, floor,) no matter how important the person is. It just goes to show you that the plane is not cleaned before you arrive at your seat
    . Next thing you’ll be having to carry your plates back to the kitchen in a restaurant maybe even washing your own dishes.

  28. Passengers should definitely clean up after themselves as best they can- especially with young children. They should be included in the cleanup- it’s a teaching moment. Those flight attendants are there for safely and are not servants!! These people are entitled brats and yes I mean the parents. She’s 22 months pregnant – not 8 months. They need to focus on someone other than themselves. Or fly private- and make all the mess you want. Though I would never fly someone twice if they did this in my plane.

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