I've got a 20 month old so I can definitely sympathize with how tiresome it can be to have to listen to a toddler repeat a phrase over and over and over. "Bye-bye" is a common one in our household too. It's just a developmental phase (albeit an annoying one).
The mom, Kate Penland, told a local TV station in Atlanta:
"At the end of her speech, [the flight attendant] leaned over the gentleman beside me and said, 'It's not funny anymore. You need to shut your baby up."
When Penland asked the woman if she was joking, she said the stewardess replied, "You know, it's called baby Benadryl."And I said, 'Well, I'm not going to drug my child so you have a pleasant flight,'" Penland told the TV station.
Penland said other passengers began speaking up on her behalf, and the flight attendant announced they were turning around and that Penland and Garren were going to be taken off the plane.
"I was crying, I was upset and I was thinking, 'What am I going to do? I don't have anything with me, I don't have any more diapers for the baby, no juice, no milk."
The nerve of that flight attendant! This toddler was not disrupting the flight, just being chatty. That's no reason to demand he be medicated. FWIW, Benadryl can often make kids even more hyper (as I learned when I gave it to my DD as directed by my pediatrician one time).
The flight attendant apparently told the pilot that Mrs. Penland threatened her, but several fellow passengers have come forward to refute that claim.
Mrs. Penland and her husband filed a formal complaint with ExpressJet, the regional partner operating the flight for Continental. After over a month passed with no response, the Penlands decided to take their story to the media and are considering filing a lawsuit.
I don't know if it's worth tying up our courts with this type of matter, but IMHO Continental at the very least owes the Penlands a public apology and a refund of the cost of their unused tickets.
Flying the friendly skies indeed!