Joan and Robert Vanderhorst had flown without issue with their 16-year-old son Bede, who has Down Syndrome, at least 30 times, Robert told the New York Daily News. This time, on a "lark," they decided to spend an extra $625 to fly first class. "My wife said, 'Oh Bede's never flown first class. He'll be so excited,'" Robert recounted.So after the airlines spent a bazillion dollars installing zombie-proof steel doors to the cockpit to keep out terrorists, they are concerned that a boy with Down syndrome would "disrupt the pilot."
Robert said he and his wife were told that their son's behavior could disrupt the pilot, since their first class seats were close to the cockpit, KTLA reports. But Robert insisted, "My son is no different from a 4 or 5 year old as far as behavior."
An American Airlines spokesman said the boy was agitated and running around the gate area and thus deemed "not ready to fly," the Associated Press reports. But Robert said his son did not run, make any loud noises or cause any other distractions.
The family was escorted from the gate by Port Authority and transferred--to the coach section--of an United Airlines flight. They were not refunded for their upgrade fee, according to KTLA.
07 September 2012
Down syndrome child not allowed to fly first class
Perhaps there's more to the backstory than what is included in this Huffington Post column, but what is there is not very complimentary toward American Airlines: