Man out of a job after being accused of slapping a crying child on a flight

February 19, 2013
(Mark Garfinkel/AP)

If you’ve ever been stuck next to a crying toddler on a plane (or been the harried parent of one), here’s a story for you:

An Idaho man accused of slapping a crying 19-month-old boy on a Delta Air Lines flight Feb. 8 has left his job from his executive job at an aerospace firm, according to multiple news reports.

The man, Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, allegedly told the mother to “shut that … baby up” before slapping the child when he was crying as the plane descended into Atlanta during a flight from Minneapolis. Hundley also is accused of using a racial slur in referring to the child, the Associated Press reported.

The child is black, and the boy’s adoptive mother is white, the story said. Hundley has been charged in federal court in Atlanta with simple assault in connection with the alleged incident, according to the Associated Press. Hundley’s lawyer has said he plans to plead not guilty.

The case is one of the more recent — and more extreme — examples of the stress that parents and passengers can encounter when young children are cooped up in airplanes. The Post recently detailed how flying has become more stressful for families as the quest for seats together has become increasingly expensive on many airlines.

More airlines have begun charging extra for “preferred” or “premium” coach seats, leaving fewer free seats together. Families who can’t afford such fees — most range from $5 to $100 one-way for domestic flights — can end up assigned rows apart, including parents separated from children. Some fliers tired of traveling with unruly kids have even called for adults-only sections on airplanes.

This post and its headline have been updated.

Katherine Shaver is a transportation and development reporter. She joined The Washington Post in 1997 and has covered crime, courts, education and local government but most prefers writing about how people get — or don’t get — around the Washington region.
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