4-Month-Old Hospitalized After Overheating on Delayed United Flight

United Airlines flight

It's not uncommon to have a flight delayed due to an unforeseen circumstance, but one can only hope airlines find better ways to accommodate waiting passengers than keeping them on a tarmac for hours during a heatwave. Sadly, that nightmare was a reality for Emily France and her son. The Colorado mom says her 4-month-old overheated and ended up in the hospital after spending an estimated two hours on a delayed United flight on a 90-degree day.


France tells the Denver Post she and her son, Owen, were among the first to board United flight 4644 from Denver to El Paso around 1:20 p.m. last week, and she noticed right away that the plane was warm and there was "hot air coming from the vents." After an unexpected route change forced passengers to wait on the plane while the ground crew added more fuel, the mom says it grew "dangerously hot" where she was sitting and she knew her baby was at risk.

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Emily tried to cool her 4-month-old baby with diaper wipes, and the flight crew provided her with ice in garbage bags to hold against his body. Eventually, the mom and her son were allowed to leave the airplane. Twenty minutes later, they were called to return for takeoff. The problem, however, was there was another delay for bad weather. And the added time spent on a hot, unmoving plane only made things worse for France's already overheated baby boy.

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

As she pleaded for an ambulance -- or to be taken back to the gate -- Emily says her 4-month-old son "drifted in and out of consciousness." She believes it took more than 30 minutes for the United aircraft to finally return to the gate so her son could get medical attention.

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"[The United flight crew] seemed completely unprepared for a medical emergency...." France tells the paper. "They were not equipped to handle it. They couldn't evacuate us. It was chaos. I really thought my son was going to die in my arms."

Thankfully, an ambulance came for baby Owen around 3:45 p.m., and he was rushed to a nearby children's hospital, where he was treated for overheating before being released.

A representative from United tells NBC News in a statement "this should never have happened" and that the company is "profoundly sorry" and "actively looking into what happened to prevent this from occurring again."

Needless to say, folks were not here for yet ANOTHER United incident (anyone remember the passenger dragged off a United flight like a ragdoll, or the teens banned from flying because of leggings?) and feel the airline needs to step up its game.

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"We have laws about not leaving children and infants in hot cars," one person wrote on the Denver Post's Facebook page in response to the story. "An airplane is no different than a car in this instance. How can United think it's okay to leave children and infants in this situation?"

Others, however, couldn't wait to shame Emily as a mom, because that's the kind of society we live in.

"If you know it is going to be too freaking hot that day and you are truly worried about yourself and your child and you know planes will be delayed because of the heat, make alternative plans," snapped another.

The US Department of Transportation currently requires airlines to deplane all domestic-bound flights within three hours of boarding or landing, but one has to wonder why nothing more was done for people stuck in this extremely hot airplane -- especially for families traveling with small children.

As Emily tells the Denver Post, "If the temperature in the plane gets above a certain level, passengers should be taken off immediately."

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