Teen With Down Syndrome Banned From Flight for Being Too 'Excitable' (VIDEO)

OMG 14

american airlinesI 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?



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bills... billsfan1104

I dont think you can use a video after the fact. I would like to gave all the facts first, before making a decision. Because if it is a fact that he was being disruptive and couldnt be calmed down, he could be a danger in the event of an emergency. If he wasnt doing anything, then they have a right to do something about it.

MsRkg MsRkg

There's a big difference between a 5 year old acting like a 5 year old, and a 16 year old acting like a 5 year old, and it's size and strength. If a 5 year old starts being disruptive, mom or dad can easily pick up a 5 year old and hold them down in their seat. The same cannot be said for a 16 year old.  He could have been a real danger in an emergency, or if he's running up and down the aisles like that, especially that close to the cockpit, he poses a to be a huge distraction or danger/disturbance to the pilot, which puts the safety of every other passenger on that plane at risk. I see no grounds for a lawsuit for here, and I don't see any rights being violated, especially when the airlines were willing to make other accommodations that was safe for the family and everyone else involved.

Torra... TorranceMom

While I feel badly for this family, when I'm shooting through the air at 500 mph in a metal tube, safety is pretty much my ONLY concern. I have to think that the flight crew has better things to do with their time than harass a kid with Down Syndrome for sh*ts and giggles.

Mme.L... Mme.Langley

Sorry. But its FAA guidelines. These parents want more publicity... Did you know they already went to the media before to get their kid in the spotlight?

If you cant get your child to sit in their seat and buckle in, i dont care if the child is 5 or 17, you shoulndt fly. Period. Yu cant adk a plane full of people to wait 30-40 min for you to settle down your child. Follow the rules, or drive your own car. Simple ad that.

geeky... geekychick

I would sue. I know a lot of people with down syndrome and while most of them can be excitable they tend to calm down when they need to. Yes, he probably was running a round in the airport like most people let their kids do so they get their energy out before boarding for a long flight. I would guess his parents know by now some way to keep him calm and seated just fine. As for him being a becoming a problem or liability in an emergency situation that could be said for anyone. My sister faints at the sight of blood therefore she would become a liability in an emergency. I have a friend that has panic attacks when something goes wrong therefore they could become a liability. If he was so disruptive why would they asume he would be better on a different flight he is still the same person.

Nolanzo Nolanzo

I'm. Not understanding how a pilot could b so distracted if he or she is in a secure, locked cockpit? The last time I checked, this area is not accessible to passengers for the fun of it?

JoDonn Griffin

I feel horrible for the family...( nothing is worse than doing everything you can to prepare a special needs child for such a big trip and have it turn out so horrible) I have a Autistic teen, I am always prepared to be denied boarding if he is having a meltdown. It sucks, but gotta roll with it.

Aimee Looney

It is discrimination either way and hurtful to the family and the boy. If anyone has a child or a relative that has anyone that has disablities they would understand, My son has Autisim. no one should be kicked out for something like a disability for something like that. Kids today, have a hard enough time in this world going to school with out having other kids picking on them more less being out in public. How would any one of the people like to be with a child or adult having a disability and struggling through every day activities? Or be in a room with some that have more then one disability. I agree with the parents Stand up fight for your Rights way to go parents. Just Wrong plain Wrong for any one to be discriminated like that.

CPN322 CPN322

It is discrimination. If you just take what they said, that he wasn't allowed because he was too excitable and therefore a flight risk, then really, you could say any child with a personality could be a distraction to the pilot(I'm guessing this particular plane had an open cockpit) and therefore a flight risk. Sure, you can hold down most 5 year olds, but not all of them. Really think about it people. If this child could be kicked off for this reason, where does it end as far as other passengers with disabilities??

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