CLAY Travis and his wife were super vigilant about treating their three boys for lice once they found out their cousins had the dreaded hair infestation.
“When my sister told me about her kids having lice, my wife bought all the over the counter lice treatments and doused our kids with it. Then she kept an eye on both boys over the next several weeks,” he says on his blog Out Kick the Coverage.
“During these two weeks in London and Paris our kids took regular baths and we combed their hair after each bath. At no point did either of us see any signs of lice.”
But as these things tend to happen — three weeks later, the itchy little critters reared their ugly heads just as the Travis family was flying Delta Airlines from Paris to Minneapolis after a great holiday in Europe.
The revelation came halfway over the Atlantic Ocean when their six-year- old son needed to go the bathroom.
“While he was standing in line for the bathroom, my six year old started to scratch his head. My wife checked to see why he was scratching his head and saw then that he had lice. Several flight attendants rushed over too and peered down at my son’s head. ‘Oh, my God, he has lice’, they said.”
Bearer of bad news
Clay’s wife came back to the seat and tapped him on the shoulder to deliver the unbelievable news.
When the plane landed in Minneapolis, the entire plane emptied and a flight attendant “who looked a bit like Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” informed the family that they could not take their connecting flight to Nashville.
“This, as you can well imagine, did not please me,” Clay states.
Clay decided to stand his ground — for what it was worth.
“We are not staying in Minneapolis,” I said.
“We need to examine your children”
At risk of ending up like the male passenger who was physically dragged off a flight — he added that he’s a lawyer and that he could find no such policy online.
“She was not helpful. In fact, we remained quarantined on the plane and the airline brought two medical people onto the plane too. I don’t know who these people were or who employed them, but they said, ‘We need to examine your children,’” Clay says.
“This seemed strange to me — is it really airline policy now to conduct physical examinations of six-year-olds? But all they wanted to do was take my kids temperatures. My kids were both healthy so I said fine and they took the temperatures and neither of the older boys had a fever. (Good luck getting my two year old to submit to a temperature check, by the way.)”
The family disembarked the plane and headed towards customs.
But the fun doesn’t end there — not even close …
Nurse Ratched reappeared with a different medical person and insisted that his son must have a medical exam right there in the customs area.
Naturally, Clay protested but then he was told they couldn’t board a flight if he didn’t agree to the examination.
“At that point what options did I have? So someone in gloves starts combing through my six year old’s hair in the middle of the customs area. That gloved person says my son has lice and Nurse Ratched gives a contented nod.”
As they get through customs Nurse Ratched is standing there with another Delta employee who tells them they cant’ board their flight before the entire family is treated and receives a clearance form.
“When my wife asks where he suggests we go, he says the emergency room. This does not please my wife. ‘THE EMERGENCY ROOM?!’ she says.”
“Based on my legal research I was told that pilots have final authority over who flies on their planes. So I told him that we were going to go into the airport, head to our gate, and I’d let the pilot decide whether we were allowed to fly.
Unfortunately Clay’s words didn’t fly — pardon the pun …
“He told me this was impossible and that he didn’t want to have to call security on me. At this point, I had a decision to make. How far did I want to take this? Did I want to get removed by security like the Asian doctor? So we left. But not before I said, ‘Just so you know, I’ll be writing all about this on the internet’.”
And here with are — just like Clay pictured it … admitting it’s “probably the lamest line I have ever uttered in my life”.
Once the family was given the all clear — they started to head home.
“My six-year-old pulled me aside and said, “It’s all my fault that we can’t go home, daddy. I’m sorry that I have lice,” he says.
“And he was nearly crying when he said it. Which, if you’re a parent, just breaks your heart. Thanks, Delta.”
“I understand the desire to protect passengers but …”
Clay never wants any other family to have to be subjected to what they went through on the way home from a family holiday.
“I understand the desire to protect passengers, but virtually every large plane in America today has a passenger with lice. It’s just that common. And every plane flight certainly has at least one person with a communicable disease of one sort or another,” he says.
“But I can’t help but think Delta totally mishandled this situation and needs to reconsider their policies. I don’t want anybody else’s kid to be forced to submit to a medical examination in a public area and then be brought to tears over the fact that he has lice.”