A cancer researcher flying from Texas to New York City told NBC News she was booted off her plane on Friday after breastfeeding her cranky son so he wouldn’t cry on the three-hour flight.
The woman, who asked to only be identified as Dr. Rui for privacy reasons — but who is an accomplished researcher and pianist, according to The Washington Post — said she and her son were forced off the Spirit Airlines plane after she asked flight attendants to give her a little extra time to finish feeding her 2-year-old and transfer him to his seat without waking him up.
“I think they had an issue with either nursing or something,” she said. “I don’t know.”
In a statement Sunday night, Spirit Airlines said Rui “refused to comply with crew instructions during active taxi several times” and that it issued a full refund to her as a courtesy.
Rui told NBC News that she, her son and her elderly parents woke up at 3 a.m. to get ready for their 6:30 a.m. flight from George Bush International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport, but ended up waiting for several hours for their flight to take off. In that time, her son got upset because he had been woken up and wanted to go back to sleep.
Rui added she decided to breastfeed the boy shortly before departure, noting that passengers and crew members were still walking around in the cabin at the time. But she said not long after she began, two flight attendants asked her to buckle up her son.
“I had asked for a couple minutes of grace period so he could stay asleep and so I can transfer him and he can go to sleep,” she said.
Afterward, Rui said she buckled her son back in, and a woman changed seats because her son began to cry very loudly.
“I felt so bad for everybody on the flight,” she said, adding that she was then asked to get off the plane, where she was met by police and a Spirit Airlines employee.
She then began capturing video of the exchange with the employee, asking "why were we chased off" the plane.
Her son can be heard fussing off camera as the employee replies, "Because you were not compliant with flight crew instructions."
Rui also claimed airline employees threatened to “bring in the FBI” after she was deplaned.
“We were very scared, as you could imagine,” she said.
According to the Post, she never got booked on another flight and didn’t complete the trip to New York City. Instead, she said, while driving home, her father collapsed and had to be taken to the emergency room.