The world gets crazier every day.
A family was kicked off a plane and United flight 638 from Denver to Baltimore was diverted to Chicago O’Hare because the parents of two boys, ages four and eight, asked if the screen showing a violent PG-13 movie could not be raised. Sitting right in front of the drop-down screen made it impossible for the parents to avoid their two boys being exposed to the violent and sexually explicit scenes of the PG-13 movie “Alex Cross,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle on April 5, 2013.
In a narrative published by The Atlantic, the parents describe that “On our plane, an A320, the movie was projected on drop-down screens above the seats, such that we could not shield our young children from this inappropriate content. Alarmed by the opening scenes, we asked two flight attendants if they could turn off the monitor; both claimed it was not possible.”
According to United’s own inflight magazine, “Alex Cross” was rated ‘T’ for “Adult Themes.”
Despite the agreement by the passengers sitting behind the family that the movie was inappropriate for children and despite their willingness not to watch the movie at all, the flight attendants said that they had no authority or ability to change or turn off the movie.
After asking the flight attendants if the captain had “the authority to address this issue,” the parents did not receive any response.
“A few minutes later we asked for the captain’s name (I failed to make note when he welcomed us on the PA system), and was told, by the purser, that we will have to ask him ourselves when we disembark.”
Throughout the interaction with the flight attendants and the purser, no voices were raised, no threats were made, and everything was collegial.
To their utmost surprise and to the surprise of the other passengers, the parents (who were busy diverting their children’s attention away from the movie to some other activities) heard the captain’s announcement more than an hour later that due to “security concerns” the flight was being diverted to Chicago.
After landing in Chicago, a police officer boarded the plane and asked the family to leave the plane.
“Not to mention unnecessarily involving several of Chicago’s finest, two Border Protection officers and several United and ORD managers, and an FBI agent, who all met us at the gate. After we were interviewed (for less than 5 minutes), our identities and backgrounds checked, we were booked on the next flight to BWI, and had to linger in the terminal for hours with our exhausted and terrified little boys.”
According to the parents, all parties involved including the FBI agent, the police officers, United employees, “the passengers around us and (we were told) some of the crew,” could not believe that a captain would decide to divert a plane because parents expressed their concern about an inappropriate in-flight movie.
“However, even United’s Area Supervisor, although cordial and helpful, was powerless to override the Captain’s decision that we be removed from the plane.”
In a public statement, United informed that the family was reaccomodated on a different flight and that a full review of United’s inflight entertainment is being conducted.