Woman Kicked Off Plane for Crying Over Her Sick Dad

Southwest AirlinesToday in absolutely bizarre airline news: a set of sisters was kicked off a plane by Southwest Airlines for crying. And no, neither of them was a baby with the screamies. But they were headed to Dallas to visit their sick father, who had just suffered a heart attack. Poor ladies. Is it any wonder they were crying?


As usual with these kinds of stories, the two sides are telling very different tales. Ricci Wheatley claims she's afraid of flying, and through her weeping, she asked a flight attendant if she could have a glass of wine. Her sister, Robin Opperman, naturally supports her tale, saying Wheatley was "very quiet, softly crying." But the sisters say the attendant snapped at them, telling weepy Wheatley she'd had enough to drink already even though beverage service had yet to even begin.

Then there's the airline. Southwest spokespeople say Ricci was involved in a "verbal altercation with the flight attendant." They took her, and Opperman, off the plane to resolve the issue, put them up in a hotel, and put them on a later flight.

So, the airline says it's done right by its passengers because they didn't have to pay for their hotel, and they still got to fly? Tell that to their sick dad, who had to wait another day to see his kids. If anyone lost out here, it's the poor guy in a hospital bed. And why? Because his daughter may or may not have been a little tipsy and was definitely freaked about flying?

Considering 60 percent of fliers were freaked out even BEFORE 9/11, she can't be the first passenger the attendant ever encountered who was suffering from anxiety. And I'm going to lay it straight out for you. If my dad has a heart attack a few thousand miles away from me, I'm going to be a wreck. In fact, it sounds like Wheatley was acting pretty dang normal to me -- regardless of the volume of her sobs.

Southwest may have been in the right if you go "by the book." But what about being right by human standards? Whatever happened to a little old-fashioned compassion? Travelers headed to a family emergency are a fair portion of the population on airplanes -- hence the concept of "bereavement fares" (something Southwest, admittedly, does not offer) -- and flight attendants should be trained in how to deal with them. It's not fun, but it is part of the job they're paid to do.

Do you think a crying passenger should be removed from a flight?


Image via Pylon757/Flickr

Read More >