Mother Claims Daughter with Autism Was Kicked Off United Airlines Flight
Flying home should be a pleasant experience for all passengers, but one woman from Oregon claims her entire family was kicked off a United Airlines flight due to the actions of her teenage daughter, who has been diagnosed with autism.
According to Emily Shapiro on ABCNews.com, Donna Beegle was on a Portland-bound flight with her husband, son and 15-year-old daughter Juliette, who was diagnosed with autism at just two years old.
Beegle claims that her daughter has a problem eating room-temperature foods, and she asked the flight attendants if they had any hot meals onboard. The family ordered Juliette a sandwich, but she refused to eat it after it arrived cold.
The 15-year-old girl became frustrated and antsy, and her mother asked the flight attendant to check which first-class options were available for purchase. After being refused the chance to buy a first-class meal on two occasions, an attendant eventually brought Juliette rice and jambalaya.
Beegle explained to ABCNews.com what she told the flight attendant, saying “He came back again and I said, 'I have a child with special needs, I need to get her something.’ And he said, ‘I can't do that.’ I said, ‘How about we wait for her to have a meltdown, she'll be crying and trying to scratch in frustration. I don't want her to get to that point.’”
Once eating the rice and jambalaya, Juliette was calm and began watching a video. A few minutes later, the flight crew made an announcement that the plane would be making an emergency landing due to a passenger’s behavior issue.
Both the paramedics and police entered the plane upon landing and reportedly discovered the child not causing any disruptions. Despite the findings, the captain of the plane allegedly told authorities to remove the family because he didn’t feel comfortable flying with the little girl.
Other passengers agreed that the daughter had not been causing a distraction, and now Beegle has filed official complaints with the Federal Aviation Administration and United Airlines, who are launching investigations. Beegle told ABCNews.com she is also planning to file a lawsuit against United.
When contacted by ABCNews.com, United Airlines released a statement about the incident:
“After working to accommodate Dr. Beegle and her daughter during the flight, the crew made the best decision for the safety and comfort of all of our customers and elected to divert to Salt Lake City after the situation became disruptive. We rebooked the customers on a different carrier and the flight continued to Portland.”
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