Everyone Overreacts, Flight Gets Diverted Because Parents Don’t Approve Of Film Choice

shutterstock_41347264__1365251547_70.118.110.28I totally respect a parent’s choice of what to expose their young children to. I just don’t respect it when it negatively affects and inconveniences a plane full of passengers. A United Airlines flight originally scheduled to travel from Denver to Baltimore had to land in Chicago due to what the pilot deemed was a “security concern.” A plane is diverted over parents’ disapproval of the in-flight movie. How did this happen?

“Forced” may be a harsh word. This whole story is so confusing that I’m not exactly sure what went on. The in-flight entertainment that the parents objected to was the movie “Alex Cross.” It is rated PG-13. The parents were travelling with two young children, ages four and eight. The movie was being shown on those drop down screens, not individual screens on the seat backs, so the parents had no control over whether their kids could see it. When they asked if the monitor could be turned off they were told “no.” In a letter to The Atlantic, the family explained:

“We asked if the captain has the authority to address this issue, but received no response,” the family said. “Throughout these interactions the atmosphere was collegial, no voices were raised and no threats, implicit or explicit, of any kind were made. The flight continued without incident, while my wife and I engaged our children to divert their attention from the horrific scenes on the movie screens.”

The family was surprised when the plane landed in Chicago and they were asked to disembark. They were met by law enforcement officials, questioned and booked on a new flight.

It’s pretty clear to me that these parents totally over-reacted. Do you actually think your child is going to be scarred for life because he saw a few scenes (with no audio) of a PG-13 movie? That’s just ridiculous. Complain, take your business elsewhere, but don’t be so self-involved and cause a disturbance to all the passengers around you. Everybody hates flying. You’re making it worse. It’s not like they were showing Debbie Does Dallas or Evil Dead.

On the other hand – did the pilot actually believe that this family of four was a “security concern?” That is also ridiculous. What the heck happened on this flight? It seems like the perfect storm of entitlement and over-reaction from all parties involved. Except all of the other passengers, of course. Can you imagine being diverted for something like this? That is just infuriating.

Parents – get a grip. And pilots – don’t abuse your power just to teach one entitled family a lesson. Not fair to everyone else on the flight.

(photo: IM_photo/ Shutterstock.com)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • Marr

      I am sorry, but from IMDB synopsis it looks totally scary and totally inappropriate for 4-year-old. Such a bad choice for in-flight entertainment! I feel for the family. Btw, United is especially family-unfriendly, so no surprise here.

      • CrazyFor Kate

        And it was probably edited so the violence was mostly taken out. My guess is the parents view anything even the slightest bit inappropriate as worth fussing about. To which I say – your kids are more resilient than you think, and the innocence of their little minds is worth approximately zip.

    • Blueathena623

      I’m confused — how the movie was viewed, its called a screen and a monitor. To me those are different things. If, as the parents’ letter states, the passengers behind them did not mind, why couldn’t a piece of paper or something be taped over it? This story is just weird. If the parents are being accurate, I don’t see the harm in asking politely if the movie could be turned off for their little section, especially if the other passengers agreed. However, it does sound like the kept pestering people, even if there were no raised voices. IF the parents’s account is correct, the pilot deserves a reprimand. Thats not a security risk. Thats wasted time, fuel, personel, etc. I believe flight attendants are only paid for time in the air, so they lost money. Just weird, weird, weird.

      • CrazyFor Kate

        Agreed – on Air Canada and Westjet they have the power to turn off/reset individual screens, etc. Maybe United is different but one would think they could. I highly doubt the parents’ story, however. A flight crew is not going to divert over that, they get variations of that every day.

    • Blooming_Babies

      Since when is it inappropriate to ask that a graphic violent movie be turned off? It’s not at all entitled to ask that a screen be closed with the support of the other affected passengers. If they were loud or demanding that would be one thing but to divert a plane over a simple request that’s all on the pilot.

      • CrazyFor Kate

        Honestly, it probably wasn’t graphically violent, especially in its airplane edit. And if they had brought something for their kids to do, it wouldn’t be an issue.

    • Lastango

      It sounds to me like the airline (either the flight crew, or administrators on the ground) jumped at an opportunity to intimidate future passangers into silence and compliance by terrorizing this family. The message is: “You will do what we tell you. You will question nothing. If you do, we will humiliate you, threaten you with the potential of a permanent arrest record, and generally ensure you experience significant psychological damage.”

      This is a naked abuse of power, done in the modern “public safety” and “concern” style. I hope the family sues.

    • http://www.facebook.com/iwill.findu.90 Iwill Findu

      I’m not really sure what the problem is since most inflight movies are so edited that even a pg movie would still only be a shadow of it’s former self. It more then likely looked closer to a g movie anyway.

    • CrazyFor Kate

      To be fair, we have only heard this from the family’s perspective – I’m sure the other passengers could enlighten everyone as to what really happened. I find it very hard to believe that the disagreement they described could have created a forced landing, even from the most cautious of pilots. Something’s fishy here.

    • PSG

      I am normally more on the side of GET A GRIP, but a plane flight is one
      of those experiences where you can count on there being young children
      in a confined environment…and if there is no way for the parents to
      decline watching these images…that sucks. I read a description of the
      movie, including what would be subject matter a lot of parents would
      balk at (Rated PG-13 for violence including disturbing images, sexual
      content, language, drug references, and nudity : illicit drug use,
      sexual fetish, gore) and it seems the airlines should have picked
      something a little more General Audience if it isn’t something that that
      be chosen or not.
      If the parents were unreasonably demanding, beyond what they described in
      the article…well…it would be nice to know what really went down.

    • CW

      In-flight movies used to be edited to make them tamer but I was appalled to see the unedited version of “The Hunger Games” shown on a flight I was on with my 3 young kids last year. Fortunately, it was a red-eye and my kids had already fallen asleep by the time it came on. But I did think it showed very poor judgment on the part of the airline to show such a violent film unedited.

      • Aimee

        Seriously, the camera work was so bad in that movie that I barely noticed any violence :P I watched far worse movies as a child.

    • whiteroses

      Honestly— I’ve never gone ANYWHERE, let alone a flight, without something for my son to do. And just because I have a child doesn’t mean everyone else on the plane does too. If it bothers you, distract them or ask for a piece of paper to tape over the monitor. Simple.

    • Jessie

      BAD choice of an inflight movie, they would have to edit that film down to 20 minutes if they took out all the sex and violence. It doesn’t matter how much you try to distract your children, if a movie is playing above their heads, they are going to look at it. Maybe they should have blindfolded their children? Knocked them out with Benadryl? The pilot was an ass.

    • competitivenonfiction

      Ok – After reading the IMBD profile for the movie, I am really surprised that it gets a PG-13 rating. It’s about a cop who is tracking down a serial killer. It depicts scenes of tortured women etc. If, in fact, the family did just ask if the in flight movie could be switched to something else, I think the pilot completely overreacted. If they threw a fit over it, that’s something else entirely. Frankly, I know adults who don’t expose themselves to that kind of entertainment so am surprised to see it was chosen as an in-flight movie.

      • Persistent Cat

        Violence against women only merits a PG-13 rating. CSI, Law and Order, NCIS and all those other awful shows often sexualize violence against women and they are played all day long in reruns. Angers me.

        I’m not taking the parents’ side here. I hate the fact that violence against women merits such little restriction.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      I smell bullshit…

      Undoubtedly there is far more to this story than the entitled jackasses are telling.

    • http://profiles.google.com/sdb1147 Sherman Brown

      Let’s take this issue to the next level, just to see how ridiculous this kind of issue can get. Say perhaps I don’t like the fact that “Lady & The Tramp” (a Disney move) is playing in flight. I don’t care for the scene where the two (animated) dogs eat the spaghetti noodle together causing them to kiss. Can I create a ruckus & have the crew turn the movie off, which is being watched by everyone else on the plane?

    • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.wooten Courtney Lynn

      While I do think the pilot overreacted, these parents were acting like special snowflakes. The world doesn’t cater to your kids. Sorry.

    • Persistent Cat

      First, I’m having a hard time believing these parents didn’t have anything else for their kids to do. The last time I flew, I was the only person on the plane with a laptop and an actual book, everyone else had tablets and e-readers.

      Secondly, watching movies on screens as described in the article is all about angles. Could a child see the screen? Normally you have to be looking at those screens at just the right angle to be able to see the movie.

      Thirdly, for a plane to make an unscheduled landing means there’s more to this than what the parents are innocently saying.

      The last time I flew, it was a plane with the screens on the seatback so you could watch tv shows and movies on demand. I watched 40 Year Old Virgin. There were some scenes that made me wonder if anyone behind me thought I was watching porn. I guess on demand movies or Air Canada’s movies aren’t edited.

    • thrillhouse

      “You behave back there, or we’ll turn this plane around!”

      But no, in all seriousness, there are worse things that could have been played. I remember quite some time ago, I was on a coach bus home from camp and they played Saw (one and two). This entire bus was only for camp-goers, and the camp was open for 12-18 year olds. Some of them loved it, many (particularly the 12 or 13 year olds) were absolutely horrified. Sure Alex Cross is probably not appropriate for a four or eight year old, but there are worse things that could have been played, there’s no need to get THAT worked up. If it’s that big of a deal to you, give the kids books to read or something so that they aren’t looking at the screen. Not overly courteous of them to be so inconsiderate in not turning that particular screen off though.

    • play2par

      Everyone seems to be questioning the parents actions. I would go even farther to proctect my kids and I would hope you would do the same. Violence and sex is not appropriate for some adults and all kids. The parents taught their kids a valuable lesson, you do not have to go along when inside you know it is wrong. By doing nothing the parents would taught the opposite.

      • http://www.julianajaeger.net/ Juliana Jaeger

        They could have closed their eyes.

    • Nnb

      Why didn’t they bring something for their kids to do? A book, a toy, crayons, a laptop with dvds? Last time I flew I sat next to a kid and his mom, and she brought a Toy Story dvd and the kid watched it on a laptop. She also brought coloring books and stuff. I’ve also seen other kids watching stuff on tablets on planes. Plus, a tablet or laptop with kid’s movies is right at the kid’s eye level, much better than a screen towards the ceiling.

      • Nnb

        Diverting the plane and causing a fuss is not the way to solve this problem. This entitlement is just amazing! Politely asking if they can change the movie and then having a plan b (dvd on laptop, books) for your kids if that doesn’t work, is much more appropriate!