The Debate Tearing Twitter Apart: If a Kid Makes a Mess on a Plane, Who Cleans It Up?

traveling with kids

Parenting is challenging on the best of days — especially when you're traveling, with two kids under the age of 10, and you're five months pregnant. We fully understand the exhaustion and the need for flexibility and a little compassion from the people you meet throughout the day. But who picks up after your sticky gremlins when they've made a mess on a plane (or in a restaurant, or any other shared space)? This seemingly innocuous question blew up over the weekend when Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Anthony Bass tweeted about a United flight attendant who allegedly forced his pregnant wife to clean up after their toddler.

"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," Bass wrote, tagging the airline in a tweet that included a photo of popcorn scattered across the floor with the two kids in their seats. "Are you kidding me?!?!"

What started as a disgruntled customer venting online became something worthy of Washington Post coverage, which it dubbed "Popcorngate." With more than 75 million views on Twitter, the majority of those who responded to the tweet sided with the flight attendant.

"Just because you're rich doesn't mean everyone is your servant," comedian Mike Drucker replied. "I hope this helps." Another wrote, "Commercial airlines are not your children's playground. Pick it up and take responsibility for your kids."

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?!?!

— Anthony Bass (@AnthonyBass52) April 16, 2023

Of course, a lot of the attention this tweet has received has to do with Bass and his family's visibility in the sports and entertainment industry. His wife, Sydney Rae Bass, has appeared on reality TV and amassed over one million Instagram followers.

Her sister, country singer Jessie James Decker, posted more details on her Instagram Story, which has since expired. "Blaire accidentally spilled some popcorn in the aisle and the flight attendant came up to Sydney with a trash bag and a wet wipe, telling her the captain wants Syd to clean up every drop," she wrote. "My poor sister is on her hands and knees, crying in the aisle, completely humiliated and exhausted, with her children while everyone else watched."

Even Chrissy Teigen, who is fairly familiar with receiving criticism about her parenting on Twitter, sent her condolences in an act of solidarity. "Oh man this is exactly exactly the kind of tweet twitterers love. god speed, friend," she wrote. Other parents familiar with the wrath of parenting Twitter replied to Teigen. "Just never tweet about anything you, your children, other passengers, or the crew do on an airplane," wrote Lucy Huber, McSweeney's editor. "It's a lawless, terrible place and everyone in every situation is wrong. We just shouldn't, as people, be in the sky."

Thankfully, it looks like the Bass family babies' love for popcorn wasn't tainted. On Tuesday, Sydney posted a photo of her daughter Blaire gripping a bag of Skinny Pop with a big smile on her face, captioned, "She so cute." The toddler will go on to create another mess another day.