In a story that hits quite close to home for me, a mother claims she nearly lost her four-month-old son after sitting in a hot cabin on a delayed United Express flight.
His whole body flashed red and his eyes rolled back in his head and he was screaming. And then he went limp in my arms. It was the worst moment of my life.
Emily France and her baby were traveling from Denver to El Paso, Texas last week. Their flight left in the middle of the afternoon and was operated by a United Express/Trans States ERJ-145. Temperatures in Denver soared above 90ºF before noon.
Traveling with an infant, France was entitled to board first and entered the aircraft at around 1:20p, 30 minutes before the flight’s scheduled 1:50p departure. She noticed upon boarding that warm air was coming from the overhead vents.
Poor weather on the proposed flight route required more fuel and therefore prompted a flight delay. France used moist towelettes to try to care for her son, noticing that another passenger traveling with an infant had taken her infant’s clothes off. A FA offered ice cubes in a trash bag to both mothers. But the temperature was still too hot onboard.
France received permission to leave the aircraft but was called back onboard after 20 minutes in anticipation of departure.
But the flight was delayed again.
France brought her baby to the front of the plane and held him by the open aircraft door. It still was not enough.
The Story Gets Worse
Her baby passed out. Drifting in and out of conciseness, it was clear the child was experiencing shortness of breath.
And then the story gets even worse.
It took 30 additional minutes for the aircraft to return to the gate. At the gate, am ambulance was waiting.
The baby was taken to the hospital and eventually released. Doctors confirmed the baby’s only medical issue was heat exhaustion.
United issued the following on the incident–
Yesterday, a child onboard flight 4644 at Denver International Airport experienced a medical issue while the aircraft was taxiing prior to takeoff. The pilot returned to the gate as our crew called for paramedics to meet the aircraft. Our thoughts are with the child and family, and we have been in contact to offer travel assistance.
As I prepare to travel with my son to Europe in the days ahead, I shudder at what happened. Sure, this was a small regional jet not an A380, but it will make me all the more careful to monitor my son’s temperature–and not just on an airplane.
For France, I can only imagine how traumatic the experience was when her baby was gasping for breath and drifting in and out of conciseness. I am relieved the baby is well.
Is United at fault here? Hard to say, though I’d like to see more proactive policies to deal with warm cabin temperatures during flight delays.
Image: redlegsfan21 / Wikimedia Commons