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
Travel Tips I Didn't Know That : The London Tube

Secrets of the Underground: Top 10 Tips For Riding The London Tube

Top 10 Tips For Riding The London Tube

Leisure Umami Burger

Umami Burger [PHOTOS]: Craved By Mila Kunis In Burbank. What Is In This Burger That Makes Even Stars Crave For Its Taste?

Umami Burger with Ashton Kutcher, that’s what Mila Kunis had in her agenda on April 12, Saturday night while in one of her pregnancy cravings.

News Mount Everest

Mount Everest Deaths: Avalanche Kills 9 People, While 3 Are Injured And 9 Still Missing. What Happened?

Mount Everest deaths from the avalanche Friday, April 18 reached 9 people already.

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.

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.

The airline has added extra large seats to some economy rows on Boeing 757 planes that make long-haul flight.

News Boston Marathon

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

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Travel Tips

The Modern Guide To Tipping

Tips on Tipping: How to Tip in Foreign Countries

Basic tips on tipping in foreign countries.

Subscribe to our newsletter

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

Want more Travel?

Most Popular

Florida Sinkhole Swallows Family Yard, Driveway Hours After It Was Completely Filled In [+VIDEO]

Florida Sinkhole Swallows Family Yard, Driveway Hours After It Was Completely Filled In [+VIDEO]

A Florida sinkhole has swallowed a family yard and their driveway just hours after the large ground hole was completely filled in. Authorities now fear that if sinkholes in the area continue to be a big problem, local residents will be requested to evacuate their homes, WebProNews reported Sunday.

Malaysian plane found news not yet final

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.

baby camel

Rare Baby Camel: Little Bactrian Ilias Makes Debut at the Budapest Zoo

A rare baby camel made his big debut at the Budapest Zoo, the oldest zoo in the world.

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.

MEXICO CITY EARTHQUAKE TODAY CAUSES A STIR AMONG VACATIONING MEXICANS, TOURISTS AS THE GROUND GRUMBLED FOR 30 SECONDS AT 7.2 MAGNITUDE [+VIDEO]

Mexico City Earthquake Causes A Stir Among Vacationing Mexicans, Tourists As The Ground Grumbled For Seconds At 7.2 Magnitude

A Mexico City earthquake today caused a stir among vacationing Mexicans and tourists for the Easter holiday. The tremor was felt for 30 seconds and was reportedly at 7.2 magnitude. No major damage or casualties were documented as of late.

MERS Virus

MERS Virus Update: Number Of Deaths Rise in Saudi Arabia, Arm Yourself With These Facts

MERS Virus update leaves the public with the knowledge that the victims of the virus are rising since it killed a man in Saudi Arabia. There has been no official confirmation as to the exact origin of the virus, but reports on the MERS Virus update say that its origins may be linked to camels.

Swim With Adorable Pigs In Big Major Cay Island

Travel Bahamas Pig Beach Swim with Adorable Pigs in Big Major Cay Island

Travel Bahamas Pig Beach and get the best experience swimming with adorable pigs. This thought might be unheard of as a travel experience. Nowadays swimming with stingrays, dolphins, whales and even sharks is getting to be popular, but wild pigs? Well, travel Bahamas Pig Beach and you’ll enjoy swimming with the wild pigs as they roam free.

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.

Find Us on Facebook

travelers today

© Copyright 2014 Travelers Today All Rights Reserved.

Subscribe to our newsletter