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."

 

© 2015 Traverlers Today, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Join Our Conversation

Travel Tips

Lima, Peru

A Travel Guide to Peru: Things to Know

Peru is a cultural hub filled with unique sights to see, amazing cuisine, a plethora of activities, and is definitely somewhere worth putting on your travel bucket list, but there are a few things to know before planning your trip.

Subscribe to our newsletter

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

Want more Travel?

Most Popular

Goblin Shark, Alien of the Deep Found

Viral Video: Goblin Shark, Alien of the Deep Found In Australia, Are There More Out In Ocean?

Viral Video - Goblin Shark, Alien of the Deep. The latest discovery off the coast of Australia has given anyone more reasons not to venture into the deep blue sea. Ocean scientists have discovered an “Alien of the Deep.” What exactly is this new discovery and are there many more out there?

California Droughts To Increase With Human-Caused Global Warming, Says Stanford Study

California Drought Climate Change: California Droughts To Increase With Human-Caused Global Warming, Says Study

California Drought Climate Change – Climate change caused by humans will reportedly helped bring about the current bout of California drought, according to a Stanford University study released Monday.

Turkish Airlines jet skids off on runway in Nepal, passengers safe

Jet Skids Off Runway: Watch Passenger, Crew Survive As Turkish Airlines’ Lucky Escape At Nepal Runway

A Turkish Airlines Airbus A330 jet skids off runway, and everyone on board the plane survived as it landed through dense fog, Wednesday, around 7 a.m. at Nepal's lone international airport. After the jet skids off runway, 40 arriving and 40 departing flights at Kathmandu, Nepal, were forced to cancel because the immobile plane covered almost a section of the runway, according to authorities.

Chile Volcano 2015

Chile Volcano 2015 (VIDEO) Eruption Of Lava Sends Thousands To Evacuate

A Chile volcano erupted early Tuesday, causing a serious threat among local residents and leading them to evacuate the area as lava surged down the volcano’s slopes.

Lisbon

Dream of Summer: Lisbon Getaway

While it is still cold and snow falls, escape the depressing winter by planning your trip to Portugal. As it is a Mediterranean country the temperatures stay milder in winter. And while you may not necessarily think the high 50s is warm the humidity is well over 50%, so the temperature will feel much warmer. Also the sun is out to warm you.

Mood of India

Delhi Rape Victim Blamed For Her Attack, Convicted Rapist Says She Should 'Just Be Silent And Allow The Rape', Internet Outraged, India Bans Interview

Delhi Rape Victim – In a shocking new interview banned across India, one of the rapists convicted in the 2012 New Delhi bus rape case has spoken up. According to Mukesh Singh, the victim is to blame for her rape. His comments have caused outrage across the world, whereas Indian authorities claim the video interview had violated four statutes in their penal code.

Community Responds to LAPD Shooting

LAPD Shooting, Killing Of Homeless Man Caught On Video

The LAPD shooting and killing of a home man in downtown Los Angeles Sunday had reportedly been caught on video. According to authorities Sunday, the LAPD shooting occurred on skid row during a struggle over an officer's weapons.

Tokyo, Japan

Safety First: Some of the World’s Safest Cities

When considering traveling somewhere for any length of time, it is crucial to be aware of the level of safety in the place that you are going to. The Economist has recently come out with the 2015 safe cities index so that people will know where they can and cannot feel safe.

Pakistani Child Being Vaccinated

471 Pakistani Parents Arrested After Refusing To Have Their Kids Vaccinated Against Polio

Pakistani parents were arrested and hundreds of others are being sought by authorities after refusing proper polio vaccination for their kids.

Find Us on Facebook

travelers today

© Copyright 2015 Travelers Today All Rights Reserved.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Real Time Analytics