Subscribe Now

travelers today

Home » News

Teen Banned From Boarding American Airlines Flight Because He Has Down Syndrome, Family Claims [VIDEO]

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Sep 04, 2012 02:59 PM EDT

Text Size: A A A

american airlines
A mom was humiliated when an American Airlines flight attendant told her she couldn't use her breast pump on board.(Photo : Reuters)

A California family claims that they were not allowed to board an American Airlines flight because their 16-year-old son has Down Syndrome.

Joan and Robert Vanderhorst of Bakersfield, Calif., were supposed to fly on an American Airlines from Newark, New Jersey to Los Angeles on Sunday with their son Bede, however they were never allowed on the flight because they were told that Bede, who has Down Syndrome, was a flight risk.

After being told that they wouldn't be able to board the flight because of Bede's behavior, Joan Vanderhorst took out her cell phone and started recording the incident, claiming that they airline was violating her son's civil rights and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Share This Story

In the video, an airline official tells Vanderhorst to turn off the camera. She can be heard sobbing as she questions why her son was being singled out. In the video, Bede can be seen sitting quietly at the gate, playing with his hat.

"He's behaving," Robert says in the video. "He's demonstrating he's not a problem."

"Of course he's behaving. He's never not behaved," Joan says.

The Vanderhorst's believe their son was singled out because of his condition.

The family has flown on dozens of other flights, but they have never had a problem. The only difference was that the family had upgraded the tickets to first class. The airline reportedly told the family that Bede's behavior would be a concern in first class because it was close to the cockpit and they wanted to prevent didn't want the pilot to have distractions.

"My son is no different from a 4 or 5 year old as far as behavior," Robert told KTLA.

After police intervened, the family was booked in coach on a United Airlines flight instead. The family claims they were forced to sit in a back row with no other passengers nearby.

American Airlines claims that Bede was "excitable, running around, and not acclimated to the environment," according to KTLA. They said that multiple crew members, including the pilot, tried to get him to calm down, but they failed.

 "Asking the family to take the next flight was a decision that was made with careful consideration and that was done based on the behavior of the teen," the airline told the New York Daily News.

"Our customer service team worked with the Vanderhorst family and the EWR [Newark airport] team, as well as the crew, tried to get Bede comfortable. Unfortunately, the crew determined he was still agitated" American Airlines continued.

However the Vanderhorst's claim this isn't true. They said that the pilot and the crew never spoke to them before the flight as they never made it on the plane. They believe the officials made a judgment just based on Bede's condition.

The Vanderhorsts were able to return home in coach on the United Airlines flight. They were never refunded for the upgrade fee that they paid American Airlines for first class.

The family plans to sue American Airlines and they hope that a similar incident will not occur in the future.

"Respect each person's dignity," Robert said to KTLA. "Every one of us should be treated with equal dignity."

 

© 2014 Traverlers Today, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Featured Video : Greenwich
Join Our Conversation
Don't Miss..
JEFFREYSDAVIS_ANIM
News UKRAINE CRISIS

Ukriane Crisis Update: Russia Has A 'Right' To Invade Ukaine, Says Putin

Ukraine crisis update is very much an issue right now as Russian President Vladimir Putin has asserted Russia’s “right” to invade the country. The Ukraine crisis update is that Putin’s invasion declaration was made while Putin was on a live phone-in.

News Auburn University

Auburn University Bomb Threat Update: "Threatening Message" Sparks Chaos In A University In Alabama

Auburn University bomb threat in Alabama had school officials cancelling classes on Wednesday. Police told FoxNews that an unsubstantiated threat was found and the school had to cancel all classes over the Auburn University bomb threat rampage.

News bees

Allegiant Air Flight Forced to Turn Back to Las Vegas After Hitting Swarm of Bees

An Allegiant Air flight from Las Vegas to Duluth, Minn., was forced to turn back to Sin City because it hit a swarm of bees, which caused a terrible smell to fill the plane.

Travel Tips An Alitalia plane approaches to land at Fiumicino International Airport in Rome September 25, 2008.

Memorial Day Weekend 2014: The Best Days to Fly During Holiday Weekend

Memorial Day will be here before you know it and that means it's time to start planning your trips for the holiday weekend and Travelocity is helping travelers make plans that could save them money.

News Allegiant Airlines

Allegiant Air Offers Giant Seats at 25 Inches Wide on Select Flights to Hawaii and the Western U.S.

Allegiant Air is now offering "Giant Seats" on select flights. The airline has added extra large seats to some economy rows on Boeing 757 planes that make long-haul flight to the Hawaiian cities of Honolulu and Maui and some cities in the western U.S.

News Black bear attack in Florida injured a 45 year-old woman by dragging her from the garage to the driveway.

Recent Bear Attack In Florida: This Woman's Experience Of Bear Attack Shows Why You Should Read Up On Animals You Might Encounter On Your Next Travel Destination

Recent bear attack in Florida on a woman proves that just because you’re travelling, everything will go according to plan and the universe will magically make your stay in a certain destination worthwhile.

News Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon Qualifying Times: How To Get Into The 2014 Boston Marathon And What Happens Now With Stricter Security

Boston Marathon Qualifying Times has just been posted on their website, though these may still be subject to change. With the Boston Marathon bombing incident last year, stricter security is enforced and most probably stricter enforcement of the Boston Marathon Qualifying Times.

Travel Tips John W. Schulze

Travel Airfare: Top 5 Tips On Searching The Best Airfare For Your Vacation

Travel airfare, despite hundreds of promos available, isn’t all they’re cracked up to be. On the one hand, some routes are still higher than they were in previous years, and some even keep getting higher. What’s different now is that more people can afford travel airfare and more and more are realizing the benefits of traveling in their lives.

News BLOOD MOON 2014 [VIDEO] IN CASE YOU MISSED THE RARE BLOODY LUNAR ECLIPSE LAST NIGHT

Bloody Moon 2014: In Case You Missed The Rare Bloody Lunar Eclipse

Blood moon 2014 - believe us when we say that it was an exhilarating view with an apocalyptic feel to it. The rare bloody red lunar eclipse last night was indeed a spectacular sighting that's not for the faint-hearted.

ADVERTISEMENT

Travel Tips

matzoh

Passover 2014: TSA Releases Special Guidelines for Matzoh and Other Religious Items During Jewish Holiday Travel Period

Traveling for the Passover 2014 holiday? The TSA has some tips. The Transportation Security Administration released specific rules for Jewish passengers traveling during Passover, including what to do with Matzoh.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest travel news, reviews, and more..

Want more Travel?

Most Popular

PHILLIP WOOD FLIGHT 370 HIJACKING CONSPIRACY: ARISES AMIDST MISSING MALAYSIA AIRLINES PLANE SEARCH. IS THE THEORY TRUE?

Phllip Wood Flight 370 Hijacking Conspiracy: Arises Amidst Missing Malaysia Airlines Plane Search. Is The Theory True?

Phillip Wood Flight 370 hijacking conspiracy started spreading on the Internet this week. The US says the Phillip Wood Flight 370 hijacking conspiracy theories are completely ‘baseless’ despite some people believing it to be true.

Poveglia Haunted Island In Italy Being Sold

Poveglia Haunted Island In Italy Being Sold [PHOTOS]: Why Is It For Sale? Who Would Want To Buy It?

Poveglia haunted island in Italy is probably the most haunted island in the whole world, and now it’s surprisingly for sale. Reports claim that the former mental hospital and plague trench could become a luxury hotel. Poveglia haunted island in Italy is put up for sale by the Italian government.

20 Secrets You Don’t Know About Flying Confessed by Pilots and Flight Attendants

Travel Tips: 20 Secrets You Don’t Know About Flying Confessed by Pilots and Flight Attendants

Travel tips actually confessed by employees of airlines can be hard to come by these days. Below are some of the secrets of pilots, flight attendants, and engineers when it comes to flying.

 MjaMes1408

Italy Tourist Spots for Summer [PHOTOS] Secret Italian Summer Getaways You’ve Never Heard of But are Totally Awesome

Italy tourist spots for summer: 6 surprisingly secret Italian summer getaways you’ve never heard of but are totally awesome.

Campers cool off in the heat of the desert during the 2nd day of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California April 16, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The Coolest Music Festivals of 2014

Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock may be a distant memory, but you can still look forward to a hazy summer lying in the grass listening to your favourite bands. Unfortunately, we can't go back to hear Jimi at Woodstock (time machines are way overdue, right?), but with increasingly cheaper airfares, music festivals around the world are right outside our doorstep. A dream summer for me would be touring them all!

Youths fight with pillows during a flash mob in a park in central Kiev July 31, 2013. Some 100 people participated in a social media flash mob called "Pillow Fight". REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Staycation Summer - How to have Holiday Fun for a Very Small Sum

If you're finding the economy's let you down substantially this year, and you can't afford to go on vacation, take heart that you're not the only one. In my 'Staycation' articles, I'll be helping you find cheap and free ways to have fun this summer.

Galicia, Spain

Top 3 Backpacking Destinations to Escape to in 2014

Nothing’s better than welcoming 2014 in a foreign place. A traveler is welcomed with incomparable diversity, fresh faces and possible even a new beginning to start the New Year right.

Find Us on Facebook

travelers today

© Copyright 2014 Travelers Today All Rights Reserved.

Subscribe to our newsletter