Walk Off the Earth singer Sarah Blackwood is speaking out after she and her two-year-old son were kicked off a United flight due to her son’s crying.
"My son was just having a fussy day, he was upset on the airplane during when we were starting to taxi. He was crying and he was squiggling around a little bit," Blackwood explained to ET Canada. "I was approached by two flight attendants at different times telling me that I needed to control my child, that, since I was the parent, I should be able to calm him down."
After taxiing for a few minutes, Blackwood claims her son fell asleep at which point the pilot announced that they were turning back for more fuel. Once they returned to the gate, Blackwood, her son, and her nanny were asked to deplane.
"I know how to fly with my child, I’ve been doing it for almost two years," Blackwood said, explaining that she is currently on tour with her band and frequently brings her son along when she travels. "I know the procedure."
The singer's son Giorgio is still classified as an infant, and therefore allowed to fly seated on his mother’s lap, where Blackwood claims he remained throughout the tantrum. United’s statement on the incident alleges that Giorgio was not seated according to safety regulations and was repeatedly in the aisles of the plane during the taxi process.
"It’s completely made up," Blackwood, who is also seven months pregnant, said of United's claims. "Especially considering that we had a window seat, and there was a gentleman beside me in the aisle seat. So unless my son was climbing over him and running around in the aisles like a wild child, that is definitely not the case."
The singer says she’s not planning on flying United again "intentionally," but acknowledges that the touring lifestyle makes it difficult to make that claim for sure. She told ET Canada that she has been contacted by someone interested in helping her pursue legal action, but has no official plans at this time. Blackwood says that her goal is simply to get her story out there, in service of others who have been treated the same way.
"I travel for a living, I don’t like making big deals out of things ever," she said. "I just felt like it was really wrong. I felt like a lot of families probably go through situations like this and never hear back when they make a complaint, never hear back when they feel like they’ve been treated improperly."
Some of Blackwood’s fellow travelers have also added comments to the singer’s social media posts about the incident, confirming the behavior of the flight attendants and voicing their support for the singer.
She also posted several videos to her social media pages, one featuring the "kind and sweet" customer service representative who helped the family get rebooked and another of her smiling son Giorgio, "the child United felt was too dangerous to fly."
However, when a tour manager who remained on the flight began collecting emails from people in Blackwood’s support, she was also allegedly threatened with being kicked off. While Blackwood admits "an apology would be so nice," she says she wasn’t looking for any special treatment.
"My justice shouldn't be served because I’m more of a public figure than anyone else," the singer said. "It’s a situation that I’m sure many people have been through, and it was just not right, period."