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American Airlines

They Practiced First, but Family Says American Airlines Denied Their Autistic Son Boarding Anyway

They Practiced First, but Family Says American Airlines Denied Their Autistic Son Boarding Anyway
Jackie Reddy

The Halkuff family have voiced their upset with American Airlines after they – along with their five sons – were not allowed to board a flight to Kansas City after one of their children, who is autistic, became distressed before boarding. AA expressed concern about the incident and is in contact with the family.

A Texas family have expressed their upset with American Airlines (AA) after the group was removed from a recent flight when one of their children became distressed while boarding, NBC 5 reports.

Adam and Heather Halkuff were boarding a flight from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to Kansas City, Missouri, with their five sons when the incident occurred. However, the outlet has revealed that, in order to prepare their youngest sons – both of whom have autism – for travel the family went out of their way to contact AA prior to the flight in order to familiarize both 5-year-old Milo and 2-year-old Ollie with the security and the boarding processes.

“I first contacted American Airlines and I asked them if there were any programs or anything they can do for us because we’d be travelling with five boys, two that had autism,” explained Adam Halkuff.

The outlet reports that the two children were offered a practice session by the carrier on September 24th, well over a week before they were due to fly. Despite this, however, Milo became stressed prior to boarding.

As Heather Halkuff explained, those travelling on the flight attempted to offer assistance and support. “They’re very kind, they’re like, ‘You got this mom. Do you need any help?’,” she said.

However, her interaction with AA’s gate agent did not appear to be so positive. “Right away she goes, ‘He can’t get on the flight … he’s going to bother the other passengers and then he’ll still be upset during the flight and we’ll have to turn around and escort you off the plane,’” Halkuff stated.

While the family offered to split themselves up in order to continue their journey, this arrangement did not suit AA, who reportedly offloaded the family back to the terminal.

In a statement to the outlet, a spokesperson for AA said, “We are concerned to hear about this situation. Our team has reached out to the Halkuff family to gather more information about what transpired at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW). ”

View Comments (3)


  1. jonsg

    October 12, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    Seems to me like a clear breach of the Air Carrier Access Act.

  2. Dublin_rfk

    October 13, 2018 at 5:42 am

    When will this standard be enforced for obnoxious F passengers?

  3. arcticflier

    October 20, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    My sympathy to the parents of a child with special needs and the unique demands required; however, I support the actuons of the FA/ GA who has a responsibility to all passengers.

    What are the rights of a “minor” from a legal standpoint? If a child does not wish to board an aircraft and makes that known through word or behavior, then do parents have the right to force the child to fly against their wishes?

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