The Family From Hell

July 24, 2008

in Baby & Kid Stories

In January, 2008, I flew from LAS to BWI on Southwest for business. On my last evening in Baltimore, I missed a half-hour of a business cocktail part so I could check in on-line and get an “A” boarding pass. I got an “A” and was happy. The flight the next evening was scheduled to leave around 8:30 and I got to the airport around 6:15 and through security around 6:30, all in plenty of time to board.

I got on the plane and was even happier because at 8:25 there was still a seat between me and the passenger in the aisle. I should have known this wouldn’t last. 8:27 pm (I checked my watch), the flight attendant comes down the aisle and says that there are a bunch of seats in my area. She tells us that there is a family of 5 that needs to be accommodated. I told her that according to SW’s terms of carriage, the family was too late to be boarded and should be denied. I also stated that I correctly got an “A” boarding pass, was able to board on time. The FA told me “too bad.” Then the family came on.

This was the family from hell. The parents were huge. The mother was at least 300 lbs. The father was 280 minimum. Not only that, the older boy, about 8 yrs old, was carrying the largest “lap child” I had every seen. This lap child was never going to fit in front of one of these parents. These people were coming my way. I told the flight attendant that under no circumstances would I sit in the same row as any of these people. I would have never been able to get my whole seat and would have suffered from claustrophobia, which I actually have suffered a few times in my life.

The FA told me there was nothing she could do. However, a couple of nice women across the aisle saw what was happening and didn’t want any member of this family sitting with them so I was able to shift across the aisle from the family from a window seat to an aisle. The man who was sitting in my same row from the beginning wasn’t so lucky and got stuck in the window seat with the father and the 4 yr old daughter.

Now, we’re late, it’s about 8:40 and we haven’t pushed away from the gate yet. And it’s about to get worse. The huge mother has the lap child standing up in her lap and proceeds TO STRIP THE CHILD DOWN AND CHANGE ITS DIRTY DIAPER IN THE SEAT. The smell was putrid. Every few minutes for the entire 5 1/2 hour flight, the FA would come down and spray air freshener.

About 1 1/2 hour in the flight, the kids are running up and down the aisle (the lap child would never fit in Mom’s lap) and Mom gets up and comes back with the FA and demands that the guy in the row with Dad move because they’re entitled to the seats. So the poor guy gets moved to a middle seat.

I’m reading and listening to my iPod when one of the little darlings starts touching my stuff. Mom did nothing. I whispered to the kid that if she touched my stuff again, she would lose a finger, not something I have ever done in my life.

This was definitely the worst flight I have ever experienced. Southwest really did wrong by those of us on this flight. How can you inconvenience (and, really, isn’t that a weak word for what happened?) over one hundred people for the sake of these 5 people?

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

jeffrey July 18, 2008 at 9:51 am

It sort of comes with the territory with Southwest….they're one step (and 30,000 feet) above going greyhound.


Edward July 18, 2008 at 12:19 pm

I won't fly Southwest, even if they have the only seats to where I am going. I liken flying Southwest to going to the State Fair, it's a total "freak show" up there. Never again. As long as you can pay, they don't care if you smell like a camel or weigh 400 pounds, they will sell you a seat.


Jennifer July 18, 2008 at 12:44 pm

I'm the original poster. I agree with you both. I've only flown Southwest once before. Unfortunately, this was for work and they will pay only the cheapest fare, which to BWI, Southwest was.

I can't even express how bad this flight was. Even 6 months later, when I think about this my blood boils. I know there are worse things in the world but losing 6 hours of my life for this that I can't get back–ugh.


C.B. July 30, 2008 at 1:35 pm

There should be some kind of rule that if you wiegh over a certain amonnt that you have to buy two seats or fly first class. And people with kids shoud take a car.


Caitlin April 2, 2009 at 9:00 am

To the comment on people with kids who should drive, how about YOU drive? You seem to have the money to complain about children on flights, then you must have the gas money as well.

As for the derogatory comments about these people's weights; people like you are what's wrong with the world today. You have a dog that you'll pamper and feed out of a dinner dish from your cabinet and dress it up as a child, but will treat an oversized person as though they are scum. How dare you?

What right do you have to complain about whether or not they had the right to get on the plane? Had you been late and denied, you would have been pissed beyond unreasonable doubt, and complained even then, Next time, stay home, eat your ramen and live your republican ways, selfish ass.


L April 2, 2009 at 9:22 am

Caitlin – why are you reading this website if you're so angry about this post? The whole purpose is to vent about your awful flight. What did you expect? Since you're obviously not a "republican", one would thing you're the opposite – liberal, with an open mind. Let me be the first to remind you, having an open mind means accepting that people will have opinions that we don't like!

To the OP – I won't fly Southwest ever again! Too many horror stories!


Jennifer April 2, 2009 at 9:26 am

I sympathize with the original poster. It's unfortunate that our society's attitude toward family often results in quasi-rewarding parental irresponsibility. The diaper-changing mentioned sounds terribly unsanitary.

Caitlin, this is the second comment from you that I've read in this section. How can you derive such information as the poster's political affiliation, pet ownership, or financial status from an anonymous post? And how does this in any way relate to the topic at hand? You posted a collection of blatant ad hominem attacks, non sequiturs, and unchecked assumptions. I suggest that you refresh your memory of the principles of logic before posting further comments. You may find the following link helpful:


Mike April 2, 2009 at 9:29 am

Caitlin – you are an idiot! Let me see if I have your thought process down – people who CLEARLY do NOT properly fit into an airline seat get to slop over into the seats of other PAYING passengers just because they either (a) won't push back from the buffet or (b) are too cheap to buy a second seat? Grow up.

As for the children, I have two of them. I can tell you right now that I have no sympathy for parents who are too ignorant to properly discipline their children. I fly often with my kids, and I can tell you right now that there has been more than one spanking administered at 30,000 feet. If they EVER acted this way, they would have been duct-taped to the seat and silenced. For a parent to just ignore their kids' bad behavior is inexcusable, and it interferes with the other passengers' rights as well.


zebra April 2, 2009 at 9:39 am

Airline seats are just too cramped as it is to have a complete stranger taking up your space.

My spouse is over 6' tall yet no special accomodations are made for leg space regardless of length of flight. He had no choice in how tall he grew to be, unlike people who do not control their weight.


Amanda April 2, 2009 at 11:08 am

I used to work for a major airline, and there is a rule that mandates any passenger who does not fit within their seat (referred to as passengers of size) must purchase a second seat. If the flight ends up not being full, the fare for the second seat is refunded. Obese people have every right to fly, but they do not have the right to take up part of another passenger's seat. It's also considered a safety hazard – FAA law dictates that anyone who requires a seatbelt extender is not permitted to sit in the emergency exit row.


SteveO April 2, 2009 at 11:09 am

Wow, I feel really bad for you having to endure that. What did you expect though, Southwest is a Wal-Mart with wings……


Hali April 2, 2009 at 11:11 am

Amen Mike! PPL who are good parents (with firm loving boundaries) on the ground can accomplish the same thing in a plane. When ever I fly with my kids, I give maximum consideration to everyone else on the flight and maintain high expectations for my kids during the flight. People who let these things happen aren't oblivious, they are SELFISH!


Ashley April 2, 2009 at 11:19 am

I freaking hate it when parents bring their screaming babies/misbehaving children on airplanes. I understand that you have kids and you can't always control them, but why should everyone else on the plane be annoyed/tortured because of your should-have-been-abortion? Take a bus next time.

I'm looking for business partners to start an all-adult airline.


Chris April 2, 2009 at 11:54 am

Caitlin, how can you be such an apologist for these obviously inconsiderate people? As for commenting on their weight, I doubt the poster would have done so if he had not been so inconvenienced by it. Personally I have a lot of compassion for people, but when those people start acting like white trash hillbilly jerks, then I lose that compassion real quickly. Also, it is hard to feel sorry for a person or have a lot of compassion when that person has obviously made choices that have put them in their current situation. Those people certainly could've done things to not be so fat, so I don't feel much sympathy for them. And changing a diaper in the seat; that is a health hazard and just pure filth. I wish people like this weren't allowed to breed sometimes.


Chris April 2, 2009 at 11:58 am

Also, how can you claim without knowing the poster that he is an over- indulgent pet owner? Also, just because he was seriously annoyed by someone else's behavior, how does that automatically make him a republican? This would be like me assuming that you are definitely a large fat broad (which would be wrong, but is probably not far from the truth), and you have little white trash children that you have no control over.


C April 2, 2009 at 12:23 pm

OP–You're a jackass.

1-As a mom with an infant, I can say that most planes don't have a changing table. Exactly WHERE do you suggest I change my kid? On the floor of the bathroom? Because, YEAH, that's sanitary.

2-All of you who assume that people are overweight because they can't stop eating are blithering idiots. That is true in many cases, but not all. Thyroid disorders, among others can cause weight problems, even to the extent that the OP claims.

3-Dude, you flew Southwest…that's like riding Greyhound and bitching that the bathrooms smelled and the air conditioning broke. That's what it's like. If you want more space and less intrusions…fly first on a different airline and get some status with a specific airline.

4-This is why I buy my infant a seat of her own.


iloveflying September 13, 2015 at 8:22 pm

you totally misunderstood the post c. i think the OP knew that even IF they had a changing table on that plane that kid would NEVER fit on that changing table. but its flights from so if she wants to complain she can! thats the WHOLE POINT OF THE WEBSITE!


Anonymous April 2, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Ashley the child should have been aborted?? Very classy.. There is a special place in hell for idiots like you!…


LOL backwards May 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Oh, just what this post needs, an ignorant, close-minded bible-thumper. Preach to someone who cares, which btw, is no one.


Anonymous April 2, 2009 at 12:54 pm

People with kids are way worse than large people. I can't stand kids on a plane…


Matt April 2, 2009 at 1:50 pm

I try to put up with kids and their parents who feel entitled to ruin the experience of everyone around them to a great extent. I must say I'd have to call foul if the person next to me stripped their kid and changed a diaper right there in the seat. Surely you can change a diaper before the flight and as soon as you land. Not my problem if the airplane bathroom is small…you better carry some kind of little board on with your or something so that you can change the kid somewhere other than my lap. Incredibly rude to change a diaper in front of the whole plane. Some noise, bad behavior, OK, I'll deal with it, but literal crap, no, too far.


Eric April 2, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Ok, I feel for the original poster, and agree with all of the comments about mentally absent parents.

But what's your deal with Southwest? I fly often, and will actually pay a few bucks more for a flight with them! Everything talked about by this poster could have happened on other flights as well. The difference is that if I'm walking down the aisle and I see someone I'd rather not sit next to, with Southwest I can keep on going to another seat.


Shel April 2, 2009 at 3:07 pm

All of these posts, excluding Caitlin's, show what selfish and unhappy people we have become. I mean from the onset the writer of the post seems pathetic..He spent hours preparing for his "A ticket", including missing a party and getting to the airport way to early, just to get a frigin seat on a 3 hour flight. And then he actually tells the staff to not let this family board because they are late! Do you not have compassion for the children? Because the parents and children are fat, you actually have animosity towards an 8 yer old and a baby…How pathetic! What have we as human beings become?In addition, you are still steaming about this family…what did they actually do to you? I hope one day you realize your arrogancy.. Instead, maybe you should have risen above your shallow needs and have shown some kindness. Did you say hello to the 8 year old or offer a friendly hand to the mother? No, instead you critiqued them and showed pathetic hostility and anger. In the future show some compassion and not hate.


Collin April 2, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Let's face it: The airlines suck. It's not his fault or her fault, etc.

The airlines stick us in like sardines, treat us like cattle, and upcharge us to boot.

The OP, and even Caitlin have good points – why the hell are we all bitching at each other – this entire chain should be forwarded to Southwest.

Oh, and the diaper changing was crappy (no pun intended). I get not changing the baby on the floor of the bathroom, but it's really not that long of a flight – put an airline blanket on the floor of the bathroom, that's what I do.


Ashley April 2, 2009 at 6:59 pm

The world would be a better place if some people had been aborted.

And PS – wasn't serious. Take it easy, anonymous. You sound like a nutjob religious fanatic.


Teddy April 2, 2009 at 7:37 pm

You really can't blame the kids if they are a pain. I myself was pretty annoying at times when I was a kid…I'll admit to this.

but when parents do nothing…that's really, really bad.


Kat April 2, 2009 at 9:24 pm

It is easy to hurl insults towards children and parents when you are flying solo but do you think that parents actually have any desire to fly with their kids? It is hard enough keeping them occupied for more than 10 minutes in the comfort of their home but shove them in a tiny space and expect them to be quiet for hours is just not possible.

We have only flown a few times since we had kids and will drive instead so as not to be a pain or toss the kiddos from the plane at 30,000 when they whine that they are "bored". Sometimes you have to fly though. If there is a family emergency packing the kids up to drive 1,000+ miles is just not an option. We do everything to make the flight easy for everyone and have never had a problem. Luckily 3 out of 4 of my kids will hear the engine and pass out cold.

I agree the diaper changing is DISGUSTING!. I would not dream of doing something so thoughtless to everyone on an airless tube. If she could do that there she could have sat down in the bathroom and accomplished the same thing without the stench.

To say someone should have had an abortion over flying with their children is one of the most ridiculous self-centered things I have ever read on a public forum. You must be one of those people who think you are a first-class type just because you are flying. This isn't the 50's any longer. Anyone can buy a plane ticket. If you think you are all that then next time shell out $10,000 so you can be treated like the princess that you think you are.


John April 2, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Before even seeing the "family from hell" the OP asked the FA to not let them board because it was 3 minutes before takeoff? What an asshole.


Shakti April 3, 2009 at 1:34 am

I have gotten to the point where if I can help it I will NOT take a plane flight if I can drive or take a train or something. At least on a train you can escape to a lounge or a bathroom to get away from obnoxious people – you can't do that with the sardine seating of a standard airline.

I have back/hip issues that require me to walk around every 40 minutes or so, something that's become harder to do post 9/11, and have had some bad experiences with TSA. I just really hate to do an airline any more and won't if I have an option.


ceci April 3, 2009 at 2:18 am

Jennifer – you sound like an anal retentive jerk. Let the record reflect that you neurotically arrived at the airport early and nitpickingly complained about these people even before you saw that they were fat. The diaper stuff was gross, but let's face it, you deserved it, you little corporate bitch.


oh please April 3, 2009 at 8:04 am

Caitlyn: shhhh. you're giving us democrats a bad name.

To the OP: This sounds absolutely craptacular. I'm sorry you had to endure that!


Steven Anderson April 3, 2009 at 9:58 am

Do what my brother does and just point at them and laugh outload. If they want to be walking pigs in human form then give them hell. Why not when they do the same to us and try to give us BS to cover their inability to act civil like, its a "disability". Really, when I laugh at them I guess I can just say I have a "disability too. I guess one crybaby non-existant reason deserves another. It is time that respectable people start to fight back for some diginity on this planet.

As far as the comment that planes don't have changing table…well duh, then I guess you should realize it and not take your kid on the plane. I am a happy one pack a day smoker. Should I give an excuse on where on the plane I should hide to puff up and cry when the stewardess tells me the obvious…there is no smoking on the flight. Hmm, I guess that means I have to grit my teeth and bare it…or…not get on the plane. You with kids…do the same or get the airline to change the rules but don't expect us to feel sorry for you.


Anonymous April 3, 2009 at 1:09 pm

I'm with the OP on this one. People need to grow a dang consideration bone in their body and actually care a little bit before trying to enjoy an ENCLOSED space.


Anon April 3, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Caitlin, Caitlin, Caitlin. You have so much anger inside. Therapy might help.

And to the poster who claims there aren't changing tables. YES, there are. Required at least one in one stall on each craft. It's above the toilet seat, flip the switch, bingo, changing table. In the appropriate place for changing filth; the bathroom.

SWA is the worst. It's like a trailer park traveling caravan. I refuse to fly them, ever.


bradfield April 4, 2009 at 8:26 am

stop being a cheap-ass and buy a ticket on a real airline!


petpad April 5, 2009 at 3:50 am

The diaper event is horrid. I have thre kids, and changed xxx diapers, and I would certainly have gone to the bathroom floor. On the FAA rule for overweigth folks to buy two seats, that is extremely hard (near impossible) to enforce. By the time the morbidly obese has self-checked-in and walks in aircraft cabin, it rests only with the Flight attendant who may be the first person to truly assess the situation, and no options. The lard would litterally have to flow over the armrest before they can truly act on it. I have seen jumbotrons squeeze into regular seats with a humpff that would make you cry (or laugh, if you're far enough).


Vic April 5, 2009 at 4:26 am

If these 300-pounders don't even have enough self-discipline to push themselves away from the dinner table, how do you expect them to discipline their children?


FlyingParent April 5, 2009 at 6:50 am

People seem to be taking this website a little too seriously. It simply provides a forum for frustrated passengers to indulge in a little theraputic venting. I'm not sure how it ended up being a pro-choice/pro-life board. Or a place to attack the obese. Or really a place to promote inflammatory and/or hateful remarks of any type.

Clearly the original poster had reason to be frustrated and angry. Also, quite probably he/she has other personal issues which need to be professionally dealt with. (The need to deny this flight to additional fliers in order to preserve an empty seat between you and another passenger is telling.)

I am a father of 3 who has traveled with kids from their infancy until now (my oldest is . I am also a little over 6'4", 210 lbs. with arthritis in my knees. I don't have any "fat" to flow over into my neighbors seat. However, I do have elbows, shoulders, and legs which may if I am not vigilant. I can't help it that I am tall. The point is that I DO try to be vigilant. With my own body as well as with the behavior of my kids when they fly with me. The world is an imperfect place and people generally do the best they can. Modern society would not be possible if people couldn't be tolerant of each other and find ways to compromise difficult situations.

The bottom line seems that the golden rule has fallen out of favor. The "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" was a delightful policy that will be missed.


Jen April 5, 2009 at 7:45 am

I cannot believe the arrogant people I've seen posting here. People seem to think that all obese people are stupid, lazy, and can't stop eating ho-ho's, when that is absolutely not the truth. People are not always obese for these reasons… there are often illnesses and food allergies involved. Do some research, folks, and you'll also discover that the typical advise dished about the rude and ignorant- "Just starve!"- always backfires. Never, ever tell someone who is overweight to starve themselves, and never tell anyone to make themselves throw up. YOu're seriously uneducated in the area of nutrition if this is the best "advise" you have to offer.

In all, I am stunned that so many people are still clueless.


Jen April 5, 2009 at 8:05 am

Oops… that "advise" should be "advice". But I'd rather be guilty of a mispelling than guilty of causing someone to fall into depression or an eating disorder.


SamH April 5, 2009 at 4:28 pm


You are a waste of flesh. Too bad your mama never heard of birth control.


A April 6, 2009 at 5:30 am

The OP made the point that the family was difficult once they got on the flight, demanding to be seated together and changing diapers in the cabin. It makes sense to me that the OP was annoyed by this. If the family was running so late, they should be grateful to have been let on the plane at all. They should not demand to all be seated together, if at least a parent could be with each kid. Running late was the family's problem, whatever the reason, and is not an excuse to inconvenience everyone else who managed to get to the airport on time (don't give me the car trouble excuse – that's why you leave hours early, to accomodate for problems like that). The diaper changing in front of everyone is just inexcusable, and should have been done before boarding.

I do want to say I've flown Southwest several times and have had pleasant experiences each time, and would fly them again any time.


FlyEmirates April 6, 2009 at 1:09 pm

There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to be late for a flight. They knew well in advance what time their flight was due to leave and when they needed to check in.

If the traffic is bad etc. you leave home/hotel a little earlier to ensure you get to the airport in good time. This is plain common sense. If they are too lazy to get to the airport in time that is their fault and nobody else’s. Southwestern Airlines should have refused to let them board this flight.

Their weight is completely irrelevant; I don’t care whether a person is fat, thin, tall, short etc. there is no excuse for being late for a flight.


Joe Mama April 9, 2009 at 11:13 am

Um… yes there is if there are circumstances beyond your control. If the taxi is late, if your flight was late to make the connecting flight, getting a flat tire on the way to the airport, etc. Sometimes s#!+ happens.


Jennifer May 18, 2009 at 1:44 pm

I love armchair psychologists like Ceci and FlyingParent trying to psychoanalyze someone over the internet. I have no mental problems. If you think I do, I wonder what you see about yourself in my story. I also wonder if Ceci would call me a bitch to my face.

Not one of you was on this flight with me. If you were, you would sympathize, and not call me a mental case, bitch, jackass, etc. This family expected the world to revolve around them. I did not. The flight was delayed by Southwest in order to accommodate this family. They violated their own rules. It had nothing to do with wanting an empty seat next to me; I haven’t had an empty seat next to me for years. I wanted to leave on time. I wanted my choice of seats because I had planned ahead. WN delayed the flight for these people who did not, for whatever reason, plan ahead.

These parents acted as if the world owed them something. If you think both parents have health problems, other than overeating, which caused them to become morbidly obese, fine. It’s still their problem, not anyone else’s. It is their concern to deal with their children, not anyone else’s. Other people’s choices or problems are not everyone’s to deal with. They’re yours and yours alone.

And, I had no choice but to fly WN due to my job. I don’t fly them of my own volition. I will concede, however, that this could happen on any airline, but is less likely due to assigned seating. And I love this website. I had almost totally forgotten about this flight from hell but remembered it when I read some of the other stories here. I wanted to share my story. It has nothing to do with stewing about it. Life is too short but I still lost 5 hours of it because of the actions of others.

And I’m not a dude.


Anonymous May 18, 2009 at 4:19 pm

You tell them, Jennifer!


Laura Cardwell May 27, 2009 at 8:11 pm

To be fair, at least you have a funny story to tell. Channel that anger into laughing about it, as you're absolutely right – those hours can never be compensated for!

Everyone bitches about Southwest but they're currently the highest ranked American domestic airline…? I have only ever had normal people on my Southwest flights.


Deborah C June 11, 2009 at 10:14 am

The poster is a certified neurotic. She gave up a good halfhour of a nice cocktail party anticipating something that she didn't even know would happen. In the end,it did happen; consequently she had a miserable flight AND did not enjoy the cocktail party. I hope she has learned to be less stressed and to enjoy life a little bit more.


Richie Zhang March 22, 2015 at 6:43 pm

I really think some of the stuff mentioned could have been easily dealt with, but what really pisses me off is the diaper change thing. If you can't change your offspring's diaper in public why do people think it's okay to do so in a plane? That's what the bathroom is for. The family should be fined for public nudity and creating an unsanitary situation for others. Why they were allowed to do this (because it was clear from the story the staff knew about this) is beyond me.

Also, the family demanding someone else's seat is unacceptable. You may be uncomfortable in your current seating arrangement, but honestly, everyone is. I tend to get plopped in terrible positions on planes whenever I fly, but I just suck it up and try to keep myself busy with mindless phone gaming.

Sorry you had to suffer through that, OP.


iloveflying September 13, 2015 at 8:25 pm

FYI i have flown southwest more than any airline and never had any problems with luggage or anything. (probably just jinxed myself saying that but oh well)


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