I think it's safe to say that we've all thought of the adjective "snooty" when passing through the first class section of the airplane while en route to our lovely next-to-last-row seat (read: we're jealous). The word "discriminatory," however, typically doesn't come to mind. Yes, there have been instances, but for the most part, if you've got the cash, you're good to go, right? Wrong! A family was just denied access to their American Airlines flight on Sunday -- because their 16-year-old son has Down syndrome.
The Vanderhorsts, who claim they've flown plenty of times as a family before (but never first class), were told that they couldn't board their Newark to Los Angeles flight because their teenage son was too "excitable". Apparently, the airline viewed him as a flight risk who had the ability to distract the pilot since their seats were so close to the cockpit. In the video the parents took while talking with an American Airlines employee, their son can be seen sitting there, playing with a hat -- not looking too excitable.
A spokesperson for the airline said that boy was running around and the pilot tried to calm him down, but the Vanderhorsts deny that their son ever met the pilot. The spokesperson also stated: "For the safety of the young man and the safety of others, American Airlines offered to book another flight for the family." The boy's parents are planning on suing, saying that the airline violated the Americans With Disabilities Act. Mr. Vanderhorst said: "My son is no different from a 4- or 5-year-old as far as behavior."
Wow. I'm honestly shocked that an airline would do such a thing. As Mr. Vanderhorst said -- his son's behavior is that of a 5-year-old's. Are 5-year-olds not allowed in first class? What is this? Do pilots get nervous when they see children boarding their plane out of fear that they'll get distracted and send the entire aircraft into a nose-dive? Seems rather unreasonable.
I hope everything works out for the Vanderhorsts, and they get whatever it is they're after. Not only was this situation utterly inconvenient for them, it was completely hurtful, too.
What do you think of this?