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Pregnant Woman Forced to Clean Up Popcorn Spilled by Toddler on Flight Sparks Debate: Who Cleans Up After Kids When Flying?

Tweet kicks off a huge debate on social media.

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Anthony Bass wound up a major controversy on Twitter this week, when he complained that a United Airlines flight attendant made his pregnant wife clean up popcorn their toddler had spilled on the floor. This kicked off a huge debate: Who is responsible for cleaning up after children on a flight?

Thousands of Twitter faithful weighed in, some quite colorfully. Read on to find out what they said and what an etiquette expert advised you to do in this situation.

The First Tweet


In the tweet, Bass said, "The flight attendant @united just made my 22 week pregnant wife traveling with a 5 year old and 2 year old get on her hands and knees to pick up the popcorn mess by my youngest daughter. Are you kidding me?!?!"

Sensing the coming storm, influencer Chrissy Teigen tweeted, "Oh man this is exactly exactly the kind of tweet twitterers love. god speed, friend."

Most Replies Not Sympathetic to Bass

The jabs from Twitter commenters came at about 100 miles an hour. "Genuinely curious who should clean up the mess your 2 year old made? As a parent of three kids I am the one responsible for them," one man replied to Bass's tweet.

"The Cleaning Crew They Hire!" Bass Replied


The player's response attracted more than 7,400 replies, and most are unsympathetic. "My 18-month-old knows how to pick things up and thinks it's fun. Your kids are old enough to learn how to do this," one man wrote. "Take like 2 mins. Unless of course we're raising our kids to be entitled and we expect everyone to wait on us," a woman said.  

"Just because you're rich doesn't mean everyone is your servant. I hope this helps," was another woman's tweet, which attracted 57,000 likes. "Won't lie, the fact that the flight attendant had the guts to make the passenger clean up their own MESS kinda makes me wanna fly United more," another commenter wrote.

Airline Gets Involved


United Airlines waded into the drama and managed to kick it up a notch: "Hi there, Anthony. We certainly understand your concern and we'd like to look into this. When you have a moment, please DM your wife's confirmation number along with any additional details regarding her interaction with this crew member," the airline tweeted from its official account.

About 12 hours after his first tweet, Bass wrote that United was "taking care of matters with the flight attendant internally." 

Commenters Balk

Close-up of woman using smartphone sending emojis.

That didn't go over so well. "Really?!? You are going to get this flight attendant reprimanded or worse because YOUR kids made a mess and they asked YOUR wife to clean it up?" one man replied. "Hopefully, they're giving her a bonus for dealing with your family's nonsense," another commenter said.  

"This all seems so avoidable," another man wrote. "I have 4 kids. When we fly we generally clean up any mess they have made throughout the flight because it's what we do regardless of cleaning crews. No hate either way here but again, we choose to clean up during the flight for those around us sake."

What An Etiquette Expert Says


Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert, and a former flight attendant told the Washington Post this type of cleaning request was unusual for cabin crew, who are "way too busy to worry about popcorn on the floor." Their main jobs are to keep passengers safe, not wait on them. "It's not typical for a flight attendant to request that people clean up after themselves," she said.

Oftentimes the crew will walk the aisle to collect trash during the flight. "But usually things that fall on the floor stay on the floor, because the cleanup crew is going to come at the end of the flight and take care of the plane," said Whitmore.

But she said picking up the popcorn would have been the right thing to do. "The proper etiquette is to clean up around your immediate surroundings," she said. "And this might be a good lesson for children to teach them how to clean up around their immediate area as well."

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