I see it's Continental Airlines turn to play "let's create a stupidity driven PR event". Here's what seems to have happened: a long delayed (weather) flight finally taxis for takeoff, and a toddler sees a plane out the window - and starts saying "Bye Bye Plane" - over and over again.
Yeah sure - after the 20th time or so, I'm sure that got annoying. However, it didn't justify what one of the flight attendants did - ask the mom to shut the kid up, and then, when the mother refused to give the kid something to knock him out, claimed that the woman had threatened her as a way of getting the Captain to turn the plane around:
"She put her hand on her hip and informed everyone that it was her plane and she was not going to listen to it. And she then went to the flight attendant station, was there for a few minutes, came back and informed the cabin that we were turning around. And she looked at me and said, 'You and your baby are getting off the plane.' And we did, we turned around and security came and escorted my child and me off the plane."
That was bad enough, but a prompt apology from management would have put this to rest. But no - management pulled the stupid pills out, and issued this statement:
A spokeswoman for Express Jet Airlines told 11Alive News that due to potential litigation over the incident, the company would have no comment other than this statement: "We received Ms. Penland's letter expressing her concerns and intend to investigate its contents."
I'll say it again: pushing lawyers out to do PR work is a really, really stupid idea. This makes the airline look like a set of callous idiots, and ensures that the matter will roll forward towards a lawsuit. An apology would almost certainly have ended the matter. Sure - the pet theory is that an apology is an opening to legal damage, but this kind of response is an invitation to ridicule - and it does nothing to stop the possibility of a lawsuit anyway.
Instead of looking at everything through the lens of legal risk, it's long past time for companies to look at things through the "how would I want to be treated" lens.