Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
There are a number of risks and concerns when flying on a long-haul flight with a toddler, but most of them relate to the little one being over-tired, bored, squirmy, crying, or experiencing a diaper disaster. Rarely does ‘a piece of the airplane’ falling on your toddler’s head make it very high on the list of concerns. However, that seems to be exactly what happened yesterday for a one-year-old flying in seat 35L on an American Airlines 777 from Hong Kong to Dallas.
According to the mom of this little one, upon landing in Dallas, “an entire ceiling panel, including a tank full of oxygen, fell on my one-year-old sons head, who was sitting on my lap in seat 35L. We were directed to wait for a gate agent to document the incident but no one met us at the gate. We stood there waiting for an agent and our stroller until the captain himself walked off the flight and apologized to us. After leaving the gate area, we went to the next customer service area to try to report the incident and were given the run around for 1.5 hours and have made no progress. While the apologies were appreciated, documentation of the incident would have been preferred as a piece of the plane fell directly on my child’s head and that is not ok. Fly American Airlines with extreme caution.”
Obviously, no one wants a piece of the airplane falling onto anyone, much less a child, but you would think there would be a prompt response and documentation once an incident like this happened onboard. I’m also somewhat surprised that medical personnel was not involved to meet the family at the gate if the child was hit in the head, even if just to err on the side of caution – via the update below American says they did offer to have medical personnel meet the aircraft.
Update: American’s statement on the event is that their “primary concern is for the Zanone family and their young child. Our customer relations team is in the process of reaching out to Mrs. Zanone to offer additional support and obtain details of what transpired at Dallas/Fort Worth yesterday. Customers trust us to take care of them and we take that responsibility seriously. Our flight attendants offered to request medical personnel meet the aircraft upon arrival at the gate, but that request was declined by Mrs. Zanone.” They added that the aircraft was inspected, repaired by the DFW Tech Ops team, and back in service last night.
If anything like this were to happen to your child on a flight in the future, and you are at all concerned that they could have some injuries, I would highly recommend insisting on and accepting medical attention. I know that pending connecting flights, customs issues, and more can complicate these sort of decisions, but always err on the side of caution.
Have you ever seen anything like this happen on one of your flights?