Virgin Blue Fires Flight Attendant For Putting 17-Month-Old Son In Overhead Compartment

Virgin Blue has fired a male flight attendant after a mother, Natalie Williamson, complained that her 17-month-old son, Riley, was put in an overhead compartment on a flight from Fij to Sydney. There is more, however, to this story than the headline.

It appears that Williamson’s now estranged husband was playing peek-a-boo with Riley and the flight attendant was just playing along. He put the child in the locker and closed the hatch. Bad decision to be sure. However, there were mitigating circumstances and no intent to harm by the attendant.

The airline has given Williamson three free flights but she is still upset with the airline. Yet, she admits that this was just an effort to play with the child. She recounts “I stood up and there were people laughing and then I said ‘Get my son out of there now’ . . . I was devastated. I was absolutely devastated. I was crying. My husband was in shock. For days on end I was crying.”

I can understand for being upset and even angry at the bad judgment shown by the flight attendant. However, this was simply a foolish playful act of a few seconds. I cannot see how that translates into days of crying for the mother, which may have been more traumatic for the toddler than the game of peek-a-boo.

She says that he might have been in the compartment for as much as 10 seconds. She insists that Riley is now scared and traumatized by the incident and has had to see a variety of specialists over his up-to-ten-second ordeal. A therapist for a 17-month old baby?

Source: Herald Sun

17 thoughts on “Virgin Blue Fires Flight Attendant For Putting 17-Month-Old Son In Overhead Compartment

  1. Say what….. Sounds like an extortionist… poor choice…. but this type of harm….come on….

  2. Inappropriate but hardly worth a firing. Mom is hypersensitive but still in the right. The therapist treatment for a 17 month old is over the top. Judgment for Plaintiff. Damages: $1.00 plus costs of three fares.

  3. I’d like to find out more about this story. I will say this though:
    If somebody put my young child in an overhead compartment in a plane I’d be one angry mother.

  4. Putting something in the overhead bin takes a little time. Even if the overhead compartment was already open, picking up the child and lifting it up would still take long enough to ask “What the hell are you doing?” Why couldn’t the parents have stopped him if they objected?

  5. James M. 1, March 7, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Putting something in the overhead bin takes a little time. Even if the overhead compartment was already open, picking up the child and lifting it up would still take long enough to ask “What the hell are you doing?” Why couldn’t the parents have stopped him if they objected?
    ——————————————————
    When things are being done that are so far out of the ordinary and that may cause a harm…the first response, in a society where instinct has been replaced by hierarchical authority…is shock and fear (when what is being done is BY the authority and TO those in their charge)….often resulting in the response demonstrated by this mother….days of crying, fear, shedding of unprocessed emotions (and their consequent chemical toxins) there will be lack of trust etc. it is PTSD and in this instance and IMHO warranted. A passenger on an airline is vulnerable to the behavioral messages sent by those in attendance. 3 free flights on Air PTSD is hardly a reward………………….

  6. I will steal Buddha’s and Forrest’s statement, Stupid is as Stupid does! I am not sure I would want an attendant working for me who shows this kind of lack of judgement. Even if it was for only a few seconds.

  7. After having travelled a significant amount over the course of the years, I can honestly say there many times where I’ve wanted to lock a kid up in the overhead compartment. But, common sense prevailed and I just turned the volume way up on my earphones … stupid move on the part of the flight attendant.

  8. I don’t know how psychotherapy can be provided to anyone under the age of five. Comforting, hugging and playing, yes by the parents will work. Therapy on kid that age is like pet psychotherapy, a crock.

  9. ” … I was devastated. I was absolutely devastated. I was crying. My husband was in shock. For days on end I was crying.”

    Sounds suspiciously like someone who posts regularly on this blog …

  10. For those who never went through the infant-child transition, or, as it may sometimes be called, the infant-child discontinuity, and who therefore easily remember their time of infancy, an alternative view may be possible.

    Merely being put in an overhead compartment for a few seconds is rather trivial. The affective reactions of adults, in contrast, can be very harmful to an infant.

    While infants, if young enough, do not understand the connotation of words, they commonly do very much understand the denotation of affect.

  11. Reading the original story over at the Herald Sun – She is now estranged from her husband… I wonder how much this new push has to do with it… and if he doesn’t want anything to do with her over dramatics. The kid could end up more scared because of the reaction of the mom than the 10 second of pitch black darkness.

  12. TOO BAD THE MOM WAS NOT LOCKED IN THE OVER HEAD COMPARTMENT, SHE SOUNDS LIKE A HEADCASE. NO REASON TO FIRE THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT, THE MALE FLIGHT ATTENDANT PROBABLY DID NOT REALIZE IT WOULD UPSET THE MOM SO MUCH AND THE AIRLINE WAS WRONG TO GIVE HER FREE FLIGHTS. I HAVE CHILDREN AND I KNOW AN 18 MO OLD WOULD PROBABLY THINK IT WAS FUN. THE CHILD WILL PROBABLY NEED THERAPY SOMEDAY BECAUSE OF PARENTS.

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