Craig Schilling and his wife, Erin Gatling, took to Facebook Live to share the Monday incident in a video that’s drummed up 37,000 views. In the footage, the pair, who live in Los Angeles, stand in Chicago’s Midway International Airport with their son, Gunner, 3, and daughter, Paige, 16 months, after they were informed by Southwest Airlines that they could not continue on their route home after a family vacation.
Speaking to the camera, Schilling explains that his family was waiting to speak to a dozen police officers who brought along a crime dog because his children were being “noisy” and “rowdy” during the flight. “We don’t even know what we did wrong,” he says.
There’s a large discrepancy in the chain of events between the family and Southwest Airlines, but four incidents are at the core of the controversy.
In a Facebook post, Gatling says she was told her children were being noisy by “running up and down the aisle and jumping on tray tables,” a claim that she denies.
“They did not cry or scream at all during the flight,” Gatling wrote in an Oct. 9 Facebook post. “My biggest frustration is that no one will tell me what ‘being a disturbance’ means. The only further explanation was ‘running up and down the isle and jumping on tray tables.’ First, we never opened our tray table so jumping on them didn’t occur (though I will admit my oldest has tried to stand on them on previous flights, just not this flight) and we were in the isle only one time.”
According to Gatling, the fact that her youngest walked solo in the aisle was also problematic. Per her Facebook post, “I got up to take my oldest to the restroom. We sat 3-5 rows from the rear, as always. We walked out of the restroom my husband let my 16 mo old walk to me. Is a baby walking 3-5 isles by herself to her mom not ok????”
What’s more, as Shilling detailed in a Facebook comment, a flight attendant stepped on his wife’s sprained foot when the mom reached for her child in the aisle, which made her “cry in pain.”
Gatling further explained on Facebook, “I went to grab [my daughter] and an attendant stepped between me and her, literally stepping on my foot. I said ‘excuse me ma’am, you just stepped on my foot’ and then shrugged it off as I reached around the attendant and picked her up and went to our seats. We never got up again. What the heck is happening?”
And finally, Schilling says, he was accused of “bumping” someone with a stroller, which led to his arrest. However, he wrote in a comment, “I never bumped anyone with our stroller. I didn’t get out of my seat the whole flight or order any refreshments. The kids were better behaved then usual and nobody from the airline talked to me about anything during the flight.”
He also claimed that the reason his family was kicked off their connection was because the airline oversold tickets and that he was arrested because he filmed the officers.
After six hours, during which Schilling was detained and Gatling and her children waited at the airport, the father was released at 1 a.m. and the family checked into a hotel. “My husband was charged with battery and we have a court case in November,” Gatling tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Southwest Airlines sent Yahoo Lifestyle the following statement:
“In addition to providing legendary customer service to each customer onboard, our flight attendants are responsible for enforcing regulations as well as our policies to ensure the safety of those traveling with us. Our reports indicate customers traveling onboard flight 102 were not following inflight instructions. A Southwest supervisor met the customers upon arrival at their connecting city, Chicago, to discuss the events that occurred onboard. The customers were unwilling to be approached by our employees in the airport and when the situation escalated, local authorities became involved.”
The statement continues: “We made the decision to issue a refund to the customers based on the reaction to our attempts to discuss safe travel to their final destination. The safety and wellbeing of our customers and employees is of the utmost importance to all of us at Southwest Airlines, and we are disheartened by the way this situation unfolded.”
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