Mei Rui, a cancer researchers and concert pianist, was scheduled to take a flight on Spirit Airlines to Newark from Houston last Friday.
The trip was to do a recording that was connected with a cancer study. The flying along with Rui was her elderly mother and father, along with her son who is two.
However, the flight scheduled for 6:30 a.m. was delayed repeatedly because of weather and kept passengers inside the cabin. When it appeared as if the flight would finally leave, Rui started breastfeeding her son, as she hoped it would make him fall asleep for the flight and keep the two-year old from crying.
According to her, while the door of the plane remained open and people were moving about the cabin, a few of the flight attendants passed by her without saying a word. Then one of them approached her and said that her baby was required to be in his seat during takeoff.
Rui asked if she could feed him a few minutes more to finish knowing if she woke him he would be very noisy. She said he promised to finish prior to the crew closing the door.
The group of flight attendants met at the front of the cabin and Rui stopped breastfeeding her son, and as predicted the baby started to cry.
At that point, the crew told Rui to leave the plane. With the camera of her cellphone recording, Rui asked the reason why she was told to leave the plane if her baby was strapped into his seat.
Eventually, crew members said all passengers had to turn their phones off. At the end of the airport’s jet way police offices waited for Rui as she struggled with her crying son upon leaving the aircraft.
A representative from Spirit said she would not be allowed to re-board. She asked Spirit reps why she could not get back on board and she was told because she was not compliant.
She asked what part she had not been compliant in, but the rep from Spirit would not give further details.
Rui said that her mother and father, two natives of China who lived through a traumatic time during the Cultural Revolution, were terrified already from the problem with officials from the airline.
However, things got worse, said Rui. The family had to wait over an hour for their luggage, but it never returned. Then after the ride home, Rui’s father collapsed and was rushed to a nearby hospital.
Rui never reached New York. The problem with the airline was another big blow to her, after she had already lost her home and possessions to Hurricane Harvey.