Family Kicked Off Flight After Son With Autism Cried Uncontrollably

It's hard to ever know what families with special needs children face on a day-to-day basis. Noa Zalmanovich is extremely angry after an airline kicked her family off a flight because her austistic 8-year-old son, Yaheli Zalmanovich, had an episode.


According to Noa, her family was on their connecting flight to get back home to Geneva when Yaheli couldn't stop crying. Any parent who's ever been in this situation knows how quickly the hairs on your neck stand as you feel stares shooting at you from every angle. Unable to calm him down before take off, the Israeli mother also mentions her 8-year-old vomited on himself, without as much as one flight attendant coming to their assistance.

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As you probably guessed, things didn't go well at all -- and actually took a turn for the worse as Noa and her family were kicked off the flight. And if that's not bad, they didn't receive a refund for the connecting flight tickets they had to fork over, because the airline ruled them a "no show."


Obviously this airline felt some kind of way considering a spokesman had to go on a mini apology tour for their behavior. For starters, I don't think it was a good idea for the flight attendants to issue an apology to the rest of the passengers for being inconvenienced while this family was still on board (seems a bit insensitive to me). It also would've been a good idea to at least ask the Zalmanovichs if there was anything they could do. I get that time is money and you have to keep your schedule moving, but the manner that they handled things seems a bit harsh.

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There has always been a debate on whether or not families should have separate flights (should those overweight and deemed smelly also have their own plane?). Even as a mother now, I get how people feel every time they hear a whining baby on a flight, or a kid who won't stop acting up. It can be frustrating and make you feel less sympathetic when you start adding up how much your travel costs. Yet, I don't think the way this airline handled the situation was best. It doesn't sound like this 8-year-old was a potential threat to anyone (physically speaking). Yaheli's mom did mention he was fine during their previous flight, so maybe he just needed a few moments this time around?

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While you won't always be able to control how others feel (some people don't need much to complain), I think there needs to be a discussion at the next airline board meeting on how to better handle situations like this.


Image via © Ted Levine/Corbis

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