United Airlines multitasking: from assaulting Adults to trying to kill a Baby
Monday, 26 June 2017

Apparently, there are still people flying United!

A Colorado mother is criticizing United Airlines for its response after her baby became overheated while their flight-delayed aircraft sat on the tarmac in Denver during Thursday’s heatwave.

Emily France, 39, an author from Superior, said airlines should allow passengers to leave delayed aircraft that become unbearably hot.

France told The Denver Post that her baby became overheated after they waited nearly two hours inside an airplane that was delayed on the tarmac at Denver International Airport, and that it took an estimated 30 minutes to leave the plane once she requested an ambulance.

“They were not equipped to handle it,” France said. “They couldn’t evacuate us. It was chaos. I really thought my son was going to die in my arms.”

France’s son, Owen, was recovering at home Friday after being treated Thursday at Children’s Hospital. Doctors said he has no underlying medical condition but was suffering from the heat, she said. Temperatures at DIA had reached 90 degrees before noon, according to the National Weather Service. France said Friday she was trying to recover emotionally and is leery about plans to fly to visit family over the July 4 holiday.

Heath Montgomery, a DIA spokesman, confirmed there was a medical call at 2:59 p.m. at a United gate for an infant experiencing shortness of breath. He referred other questions about the incident to United.


In an emailed statement to The Post, United said: “Yesterday, a child onboard flight 4644 at Denver International Airport experienced a medical issue while the aircraft was taxiing prior to takeoff. The pilot returned to the gate as our crew called for paramedics to meet the aircraft. Our thoughts are with the child and family, and we have been in contact to offer travel assistance.”

United experienced a public relations crisis in April when a video widely shared online showed security agents dragging a man off an overbooked flight in Chicago.

France planned to fly with Owen to El Paso, Texas, to join her husband, an astrophysicist, for a rocket launch. Their flight was scheduled to leave Denver at 1:50 p.m. Thursday, and France was one of the first passengers to board — around 1:20 p.m.

France was assigned to a seat in the rear of the plane and it was hot inside when she boarded, she said.

“There was just hot air coming from the vents,” she said.

The flight crew announced that bad weather on the planned route was forcing the pilot to fly a different path, which would require more fuel. Takeoff was delayed to allow the ground crew to add fuel, France said.

France said she put wet wipes on Owen’s neck and down his shirt to cool him. His body felt hotter as they sat in the aircraft, she said, and flight attendants brought ice in garbage bags to place on the 4-month-old.

“We just sat and sat and sat,” France said. “I hit my call button and said, ‘I think it’s getting dangerously hot back here.'”

Crew members allowed France and Owen to leave the aircraft for 20 minutes. They were called back for takeoff, but when France returned to their seat the flight was delayed again because of bad weather, she said.

Crew members allowed France to take Owen to the front of the aircraft, where she said she held the infant in front of the open door. Flight attendants brought more bags of ice, she said. Another woman traveling with a baby removed her child’s clothes and was holding a bag of ice against the child’s chest, she said.

Owen struggled in the heat, France said.

“His whole body flashed red and his eyes rolled back in his head and he was screaming,” France said. “And then he went limp in my arms. It was the worst moment of my life.”

France and other passengers begged for an ambulance. There appeared to be disagreement between the flight crew and the ground crew over whether stairs should be pushed to the aircraft or the airplane should return to the gate, she said.

France said she sobbed as she sat by the open door and waited as Owen drifted in and out consciousness. She estimates they waited 30 minutes before the airplane returned to the gate.

“They seemed completely unprepared for a medical emergency,” she said.

In all, France estimates they were on the airplane for more than two hours, finally getting into an ambulance about 3:45 p.m.

Current regulations prevent airlines from keeping passengers on the tarmac waiting to take off or taxi to a terminal sit on a plane for more than two hours. At two hours, they must provide bathroom breaks, drinks and food. At three hours, passengers must be allowed to exit the aircraft.

 



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