A 15-year-old autistic girl was kicked off of a flight home from Disney World along with the rest of her family because her behavior was reportedly making the pilot “uncomfortable.” That action is being called discrimination by the family, who are now planning to take legal action against United Airlines for their decision to stop the flight in Salt Lake City, Utah, to boot the family from the plane.
As previously reported by Inquisitr, the child’s mother, Donna Beegle, first asked to purchase a first-class meal from United when her daughter Juliette refused to eat any of the family’s packed food or the airline’s economy offerings. Beegle says that although she told the flight attendant that her daughter was autistic and might begin to “scratch” other passengers if she did not get food that she was willing to eat, it was difficult to get the United employee to comply.
Although others say that, after the meal arrived, the autistic passenger was calm, the family was still escorted off of the plane after an emergency landing. Though Beegle is saying the incident is an example of “fear of autism,” some other people who were on board the flight were relieved when Juliette was ushered off. One such flyer, Marilyn Hedlund, told KOIN-6 that she felt threatened by the “howling” of the young autistic girl.
“There was a lot of howling, and we thought well, what’s going on? And it never stopped. She wasn’t put off the plane because she had autism, she was put off the plane because she was maybe proposing some kind of a threat, to (about) 170 other people at 36,000 feet, which doesn’t make anyone feel safe. What if she got crazy and got up and opened an exit door at 36,000 feet?… I think the airline did everything they possibly could.”
That’s not to say that the rest of the passengers agreed with the decision. One man, Chris Hall, became so irritated that he began filming the incident with his cell phone. Chris handed over that footage, where a another person can be heard saying that a lawsuit is likely, to KOIN-6.
“The child would make noise every now and then, no louder than, say, a baby crying. I don’t think they should have landed a plane for her being fussy.”
United has issued a statement where they claim that the reaction was justified and that the family of the autistic young lady was given another flight.
“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.”
[Image via Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]