My Friend Manny

I’ve flown Southwest Airlines for about 30 years. This is partially because it is affordable and partially because it is the only airline with non-puddle-jumping planes that flies into my hometown of Midland, Texas.

But I recently had an experience that darn near knocked my socks off and made me seriously question my loyalty (like I have a choice unless I want to walk to West Texas) to this company.

Here’s the sordid story in as short a form as I can stomach. (If anyone from Southwest Airlines happens to be reading this, you can add this as an addendum to my official complaint, #192310831.)

My toddler, who is presently 2-and-a-half, and I were on a plane in Vegas, waiting to take off, strapped into our seats and working a sticker book. In front of us arose some sort of clatter about the flight being overbooked and “lap children” needing to be on the laps of their parents.

Manny the flight attendant came up to me and asked me if my daughter was a lap child. I replied that no, she is two with her own ticket. Manny came back a few minutes later and demanded to know her name, as if he thought I was pulling a fast one. Which I suppose some people do. He stomped off to check the flight roster.

Side note: Yes, Manny (or maybe it was Mannie) is his real name. I want you parents to be forewarned about Manny’s idiocy in case you must ever fly from Las Vegas to Midland on flight 267 with a small child. Manny will not be your friend, nor will he be your child’s friend.

Then Manny came back a third time, for some reason angry and looking for a fight.

“She’s got to go,” he said.

“What?” I said, thinking he meant that my child was about to get kicked off the plane.

“She can’t sit in the carseat if she’s not a baby. She has to sit in the seat without the carseat if she has her own ticket.”

I’ll let all of the parents in the audience pause for a moment and ponder the multiple layers of ignorance cast upon you in that one fool sentence.

We proceeded to argue back and forth about how I’ve been traveling with children for 7 years and I know that it is the parent’s choice whether or not to put the toddler in a carseat when travelling by air.

No dice. My friend Manny made me take my toddler out of her seat and hand the offending item over to him. The whole thing terrified my girl and she immediately started screaming. She refused to be buckled into the “big girl” seat, going rigid and very nearly hyperventilating. The plane was delayed. The other passengers were annoyed, but at least sympathetic. I was embarrassed and very nearly in tears myself. It was awful.

All the while, Mr. Manny didn’t seem the slightest bit concerned that he had upset a small child (or small adult for that matter). He never offered condolences or tried to explain. He was obviously having a bad day and he decided that picking on and bullying the mom with the little kid was a lot easier than telling the two obese men who took up three seats in the front row that they needed to haul their enlarged posteriors elsewhere.

The dude probably takes candy from babies. He certainly takes carseats from babies.

Then suddenly the lead flight attendant, whose name I wish I had gotten, brought us back the carseat and apologized. I fought my kid back into her seat with bribes of chocolate and she promptly passed out. Probably from fear.

I thought the matter was over, but no. Manny the Asshat made a point of coming by two more times, not to apologize but to let me know that he was still correct.

“I looked in the book,” he said. “She has to be in an adult seat.”

Sure buddy. I know that big kids don’t ride in laps on airplanes, but I also know that FAA and Southwest Airlines recommends using an approved child safety seat for kids up to age 4 or 40 pounds. I fly a lot and, unlike Manny, I tend to pay attention to these things.

I just nodded at him and made sure I got his damn stinking name so that I could properly inform Southwest Airlines that Manny needs to get some training in FAA standards and perhaps magically ingest a dose of human empathy if he wishes to remain in the service industry.

The whole thing was one step away from those horror stories you hear about titillated flight attendants asking a breastfeeding mom to get off the plane. Not quite that bad. But horrendous nonetheless.

Yes, I filed an official complaint with Southwest and they will get back to me within 45 days. In the meantime, I am sure Manny will act like a complete heartless douchebag to yet another family.

God bless him, I hope someday he has children of his own.

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14 thoughts on “My Friend Manny

  1. Funny, I just listened to a perspective peice on how being a good client helps service personnel give better service. Apparently this was a hopeless case and Manny needs a Nanny as he has not quite grown up yet.

  2. That’s pretty pathetic. Looks like our friend Manny (I feel like I know him now too) has some power-trip issues.

    Good for you for speaking up about it.

  3. Flight attendants really are the worst. I would be FUMING and probably would have dropped enough F-bombs on Manuel to get my ass booted off the flight altogether, but those kinds of unreasonably idiotic people are just intolerable. Crazy story, hope those fools at SouthWest do something about it.

    • the reason I didn’t totally freak out on him was because I was terrified he would throw us off the plane. he was seriously looking for a fight and they needed the seats. (p.s. like your cut the crap blog)

  4. Manny won’t have kids of his own, he hates them too much and probably resents parents, or “breeders.” I know the type. SW might give you a free ticket; if so, take it. That’s probably all you’re likely to get from them, along with a form letter type apology. Keep us informed.

    • I’m with you on the “breeder” bit. I encounter lots of haters daily in my life with kids in San Francisco!

  5. Jeez louise. I’m going to look him up. I don’t know what after that, but SOMETHING. Anyone who makes a mama almost cry, ESPECIALLY while flying with a toddler, deserves to have their ass kicked.

  6. Oh so sorry. This has happened to me too, when they separated my kid across the aisle from me (the whole ‘oxygen mask’ thing). And they STOPPED the plane on the runway when I tried to hold her hand across the aisle.
    The stewardess’ name wasn’t Manny but very well could have been his sister running the Charlotte to Akron-Canton route.
    May they have triplets.
    Twice.

  7. Southwest is the only airline that gave us crap for flying with a kid too. We had forgotten to bring a copy of his birth certificate. But he was so small, and I was like, “I can get him out and show you he’s barely even walking, he’s only 1.” The lady finally let us on, but we had to go through the same ordeal on the way home. No other airline even asked us for the document. Then, they broke our stroller, but said it was broken when we gave it to them. We’ll probably never fly them again.

  8. the official feedback. meh….

    Dear Robin,

    As you are aware, your correspondence was escalated to our Headquarters for further review. Without a doubt, we acknowledge how vital Customer feedback is to our operation, and your comments and concerns about your travel experience have been heard and taken to heart.

    All in all, it is obvious that we have not scored a very “high grade” with you in regard to your experience, and we know that your confidence in our ability to serve you has been shaken. We’re sorry for the confusion onboard your flight in regard to your child’s restraint device. We regret that you felt our Flight Attendant was rude and upset you and your child. Allow me to explain that there are very specific requirements regarding child restraint devices onboard the aircraft.

    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned certain types of child restraints that may be harmful to a child in the event of an aviation emergency.

    Approved Child Restraint Devices

    * Many of these carry the FMVSS.213 insignia and/or language indicating that they are “approved for use in motor vehicles and on aircraft.”
    * Any CRD manufactured between January 1, 1961 and February 25, 1985, must have the following label: “This child restraint device conforms to all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.”
    * Any CRD manufactured since February 26, 1985, must have both of the following labels: “This child restraint device conforms to all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards” and “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.”

    Harness-type devices approved by the FAA:

    * At this time, the FAA has approved only the AmSafe Aviation CARES, which is appropriate for children weighing between 22 and 44 pounds.
    * The AmSafe Aviation CARES must have a label indicating “FAA Approved in Accordance with 14CFR 21.305(d), Approved for Aircraft Use Only.”

    Devices that tie the child to another person are prohibited for taxi, takeoff, and landing regardless of any approval labels they bear. Also, backless booster seats are not approved for use during any phase of flight regardless of any approval labels.

    Once onboard the aircraft, your child’s CRD must be placed in a seat that is not an emergency exit seat. It is best to place the CRD in a window seat so it will not block access to the aircraft aisle. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for securing the CRD to the seat and fasten the aircraft seatbelt as tightly as possible.

    All that said, we are confident that Flight Attendant was simply trying to follow all rules and regulations. Nevertheless, we regret the frustration this caused for you and your child and we are glad that our other Flight Attendant was able to diffuse the situation.

    We appreciate your providing us with the details of your experience, and our Staff has ensured that your correspondence has been properly indexed and attributed to the appropriate areas. Additionally, your comments have been summarized and provided to our Senior Leaders for their review. Your feedback will assist us in improving the overall product we offer to the traveling public.

    Again, we’re very sorry for your disappointment, and, as a tangible expression of our regret, we are issuing you a $100.00 Southwest LUV Voucher that you will receive within seven to ten business days. Please accept this voucher as our invitation to travel with us soon as it would be our honor to serve you under better circumstances.

    Your business means the world to us. It’s our hope that you will continue flying Southwest Airlines for many years to come.

    Sincerely,

    April, Southwest Airlines

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