The incident has sparked varied responses from those who heard the story. While many people - mostly parents - sympathize with the Kuleszas, others are less inclined. For example, when I related the tale to an unnamed colleague and asked if he had ever heard of an airline bouncing a child from a flight he said, "No, but I'm all for it. Couldn't they have checked her with the baggage?"
This colleague, as it happens, has no kids.
AirTran, meanwhile, has apparently had a change of heart. After the airline received a phone call Thursday from yours truly, an AirTran customer service rep called the Kuleszas, apologized profusely for the incident and refunded them the $595 cost of their tickets.
"We do believe the situation could have been handled differently," said AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver. "We will use this case as a means to train our agents on dealing with this type of situation on our flights ... While there are FAA regulations that mandate all passengers have to be securely fastened in their seat belts before a plane can depart, we need to work with our customers in situations like this to help them - and that is what we will focus on."
Ms. Kulesza is appreciative of the response, but believes she could have calmed her daughter down, if given the chance.
"It wasn't like she had a bomb strapped to her waist," she noted.
AirTran also extended another offer to the Kuleszas - free airline tickets to the destination of their choosing. The offer has been declined.
"I said I appreciated it, but I told them not to bother," Ms. Kulesza said. "We won't ever be flying with that airline again."
AirTran didn't even realize what a gold mine of public support they had unearthed until the parents launched an indignant media crusade about their ordeal.
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