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Child With Autism Refuses to Stay in Seat, United Responds the Best Way

Child With Autism Refuses to Stay in Seat, United Responds the Best Way
Jackie Reddy

A mother who was traveling with her autistic son on a recent Houston-bound United Airlines flight from San Diego has spoken of her gratitude towards staff for accommodating his needs during the journey. Lori Gabriel posted her thoughts on Facebook, saying that crew “couldn’t have done a better job.”

A mother who was traveling with her son on a recent United Airlines flight from San Diego to Houston has voiced her gratitude toward staff after they let her child, who is autistic, stay in first class and sit in the aisle during the course of the journey, Fox News reports.

Lori Gabriel was flying with her son, Braysen, on August 6th when he became unsettled just prior to departure from San Diego.

Speaking to the outlet, she explained that, “It was time for takeoff and Braysen had slipped out of his seat belt and he wanted to sit on the floor. So, we were trying to get him back into his chair and get his seat belt back on, and that’s when he had his meltdown and started kicking, screaming and hitting.”

A member of staff approached Gabriel and explained that the plane would not be able to depart unless Braysen was securely seated. The mother replied that her son was autistic and added that, while she was concerned that the pair would be taken off of the flight due to safety concerns, the member of the cabin crew was “so nice”.

Gabriel was permitted to hold her four-year-old on her lap during departure and, when she could no longer hold him, he was then allowed to play on the floor of the plane. Her son then entered the first-class cabin where he received plenty of playful attention and even high-fives from a fellow passenger.

Writing of her experience on Facebook, Gabriel said, “Huge thank you to United Airlines they accommodated his needs, made sure we were all OK, worked around where he choose to sit.” The flight’s crew members, she added, “couldn’t have done a better job.”

***Please share****So my little flyer (he’s autistic but normally loves to fly) didn’t have such a good flight home. …

Posted by Lori Gabriel on Tuesday, August 6, 2019

In response, the airline posted on social media, “It sure sounds like Braysen and your family had a great flight. We are happy that our crew was able to make it an enjoyable experience. We are overjoyed to see that we have such loving and supportive passengers on board as well!”

[Featured Image: Facebook/Lori Gabriel]

View Comments (5)


  1. weegraeme

    September 15, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    It’s a Catch 22 situation for the crew though, isn’t it? In allowing the lady’s son to remain on the floor, they left themselves legally vulnerable. I can just imagine what the outcry would have been in the event that the aircraft had struck severe turbulence, and he’d been severely injured. I don’t know what the answer is though. It would have been unpleasant for everyone if he’d had a melt down that lasted for the entire flight.

  2. skidooman

    September 16, 2019 at 6:30 am

    At some point, every rule needs to be amended when the goal of that rule would not be achieved by respecting the said rule.

    Sure, Brayden ran a risk. A minimal risk. And worth it for flying.

  3. mvoight

    September 17, 2019 at 8:57 am

    The aisle of an airliner in flight is no place for a child.
    That makes it dangerous for him, other passengers, and the crew.
    If safety rules cannot be followed, he should not be on the plane, whether there is a handicap or not.

  4. weero


    September 22, 2019 at 6:06 am

    A 4 year old not buckled up during take off is a safety risk for him and the other passengers. I hope someone reports this crew to percent such shenanigans in the future.
    The kid has autism, not a life threatening condition. Tampering with the cabin’s safety to avoid a tantrum isn’t a reasonable approach.

  5. FlyGUYClipper

    September 26, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    YAY !!! FOR UA!!. This is an example of the majority of Great Flight Crews around the world!. They did the Exact right thing!.

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