Tuesday, September 18, 2012

First class to no class?

Watch the video (click above) and judge for yourself whether this teenager was behaving in a way that would make him a "flight risk" sitting in first class with his parents on an American Airlines plane. To make matters worse, when the family was rebooked on a United Airlines flight, they found themselves seated in the back row of the plane with two empty rows of seats in front of them. For the protection of the other passengers? From first class to no class?


This is one of those stories where I really don't want to believe the parents' side of the story because the alternative is just too abhorrent. I mean, why would they do that if the kid was behaving properly? To protect their customers from knowing that Down Syndrome exists? What is so offensive or disturbing about it? I just don't get it...

Hi Elpapad -- thanks for your comment. I wish the airlines' stories were more believable. The parents seem pretty reasonable to me. Even if their son was excited or running around (which is the opposite of what we see in the phone video), the answer isn't to bar them from the plane. The answer is to work with the family to meet their needs AND the needs of the other passengers. They've apparently flown numerous times without problem.

And isolating/segregating the family in a stigmatizing way on the second flight is hard to fathom. Why didn't the second airline ASK the parents and teen if there was any seating arrangement that they would prefer, rather than creating an element of fear in the other passengers by isolating the family in a very conspicuous way? One of the media stories says that when other passengers asked if they could lie down in the two rows of empty seats around the family they were told they were "blocked." Is this a way to treat the family or the other customers?

I bet there would have been passengers on both flights who would have gone out of their way to ensure that teen had a good flight.

It will be very interesting to see what happens as I believe they have sued.

As a parent of a child with Down Syndrome and as a human being, I am really disappointed with how the airline handled this situation. Of course I don't know all the information that precipitated, but from what I can hear, this young man and his family really do seem like they've been discriminated against. I don't understand at all how he would have been a 'flight risk'; he looks so calm in the video. I've flown many times with my daughter (with DS) and we have never experienced any kind of mistreatment like this, but the fact that it's happened to this family is terrifying to me.