A mother, her children and elderly parents, were kicked off a Spirit Airlines flight Friday for refusing to listen to crew instructions, the airline said.
However, Mei Rui, an acclaimed pianist and cancer researcher, tells it differently, according to KHOU.
She was on a flight from Houston to Newark, New Jersey, to attend a recording as part of a clinical research study. The 6:30 a.m. flight was delayed multiple times. She started breastfeeding her son to help quiet him and put him to sleep.
The plane’s door was still open and people were still walking around the cabin when an attendant approached Rui and said that her son needed to be in his seat before takeoff.
“I asked for just a couple more minutes to finish because if he woke up at that point he would have made a lot of noise,” Rui told KHOU. “I said, ‘I promise I’ll finish before you close the plane’s door.’”
She stopped feeding her son and put him in his seat. When he started crying, the flight crew told Rui to get off the plane.
“It’s not like I was resistant. I put him in the seat,” she said. “If they had shown a little compassion, it wouldn’t have happened. They didn’t have to let it escalate.”
She recorded the interaction on her cellphone camera. In it, she asks why she is being removed from the flight. She is told: “Because you were not compliant.”
"It was humiliating to be chased off a plane in front of hundreds of people," Rui told KHOU. "We had never been through anything close to this."
Rui, who was refunded her money, said she will not fly Spirit again.
The airline stands by its decision.
"Our records indicate a passenger was removed from Flight 712 after refusing to comply with crew instructions several times during taxi to runway and safety briefing. To protect the safety of our guests and crew, FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations and airline policies require all passengers to stay seated and buckled during takeoff and landing. We apologize for any inconvenience to our guests. As a courtesy, we’ve issued a full refund to the passenger in question."