SEATAC, Wash. - A fussy 3-year-old was booted off an Alaska Airlines flight at Sea-Tac Airport when he wouldn’t sit up properly in his seat belt, the airline said.
Mark Yanchuck was in row 23 with his 3-year-old son, Daniel, on Saturday’s red-eye to Miami.
“He started freaking out a little bit, crying. He was sleepy,” said Mark Yanchuck.
Mark Yanchuck’s 1-year-old boy, Dennis, his wife, Svetlana and her mother were sitting up front.
“He was cranky. He was trying to get out. The seat belt was on him, but he was trying to get out and I was holding him down,” said Mark Yanchuck.
Flight attendants tried to help and moved the boy’s mother, Svetlana Yanchuck, back to sit with her 3-year-old.
“When I came, he was just sitting with his seat belt fastened and after two or three minutes I managed to calm him down,” said Svetlana Yanchuck.
The plane went about 50 feet and then stopped.
The pilot announced they were headed back to the gate. When it arrived, Mark Yanchuck was told he and Daniel had to get off.
“I’m like, ‘Do we have to?’ I said, ‘He's fine. He's calm. Do we have to?’ He said the pilot made his final decision,” said Yanchuck.
The entire family disembarked.
“It was 23 rows (back). It was pretty embarrassing,” said Mark Yanchuck.
“I thought we were treated like criminals,” said Svetlana Yanchuck.
An Alaska Airlines spokesman told KIRO 7 that at one point, flight attendants saw the boy lying across the seat with his legs dangling and the seat belt near his neck.
The airline said flight attendants had three or four conversations with the parents before the pilot decided to return to the gate.
The Yanchucks maintain that Daniel had settled down by the time the plane left the gate.
“I don’t think it’s a reason to throw a 3-year-old off the plane,” said Mark Yanchuck.
The Everett family was headed to the Virgin Islands for a vacation and declined Alaska's offer to rebook them on another flight.
The airline said it’s working to get the family a refund.