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I don’t always cover every possible news story that is travel-related (or tangentially travel-related), but I try to write something up if I have the time, or if it’s especially interesting, or if it relates to family travel. So I wanted to write a few thoughts on a recent story where a husband (and professional baseball player) took to Twitter to lambast a United flight attendant for “making” his wife get on her hands and knees to pick up popcorn on the plane. I’ve seen a few articles on this already – Live and Let’s Fly, View from the Wing, The Bulkhead Seat among others.

MLB Pitcher Slams Airline For Making His Wife Clean Up Popcorn

First, a little bit of background. A few days ago, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Anthony Bass was in the news for taking to Twitter to call out a United Airlines (or possibly / probably United Express) flight attendant for “making” (his words) his 22-week pregnant wife get on her hands and knees to clean up popcorn that was spilled by their 2 year old daughter.

When pressed on the issue and asked who SHOULD clean up after his kids, he suggested it should be the airline cleaning crew.

Now, setting aside the question as to whether there is a cleaning crew that cleans airplanes between flights (generally, no), it brings to mind the question of whether parents should be responsible for cleaning up the messes their kids make, on an airplane or anywhere else.

My Take

Generally speaking, I do agree that parents should be responsible for the messes that their kids make. Having said that, being on an airplane is somewhat of a mitigating factor, just from both the fact that you don’t have a lot of room to be able to even REACH any mess on the floor and due to the fact that you’re traveling, you might not have some of the tools with you that might make the job easier. Still, I don’t think it’s appropriate to treat an airplane like a movie theater or (dare I say) an MLB dugout or stadium.

Of course we don’t have both sides of this story and it’s human nature when you’re upset or complaining to paint yourself in the best possible light and the person that you feel has wronged you in the worst possible light. We have seen time and time again stories come out that look quite differently when you see the other side of things. Was she really “made” to “get on her hands and knees”? How much of a mess was it? He did later confirm that it was United who provided the popcorn, which seems like a truly awful idea of a snack to give to children on an airplane.

On the other hand, we’ve seen plenty of stories of flight attendants seemingly going on power trips and demanding passenger compliance with whatever whim they come up with. Without more information, it’s hard to assess what actually happened here. In my experience, on regional jets (like this one seems to be), I’ve seen that it’s the flight attendant(s) who are the ones cleaning the plane between flights. So maybe the flight attendant knew that if the mom didn’t clean it up then THEY (the flight attendant) would have to clean it before the next flight, or risk the new passenger having to come onto a plane littered with popcorn.

A Mom’s Take

I then asked Mrs. Points With a Crew what she thought. As someone that has gone through 6 pregnancies, I thought she might have some insight as to what level of exertion it would be appropriate to ask a pregnant person to do. She said that the mom probably should have made some effort in cleaning up the mess even before being asked, unless it was physically impossible for her to do so. She mentioned that 22 weeks is still relatively small, though there may have been other factors. She also pointed out that accessing the tiny area between the seats of a regional jet would be basically impossible to do WITHOUT getting on your hands and knees. So perhaps that’s where the “forced” comes from in that there was no other way to access the mess.

Her main take was that this could have been handled much better by everyone involved and that everyone should do a bit more to show others some grace.

The Bottom Line

A Toronto Blue Jays pitcher took to Twitter to complain to United that a flight attendant forced his pregnant wife to get on her hands and knees to clean up popcorn on an airplane. I do agree that generally parents should be responsible for and clean up messes their kids make, though it’s hard to know from the limited information we have whether there were any mitigating circumstances.

All right – now it’s your turn – how do you think this should have been handled?

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