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-   -   UA Pilot Diverts to Remove Autistic Child From Plane for Safety Reasons (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/united-airlines-mileageplus/1678775-ua-pilot-diverts-remove-autistic-child-plane-safety-reasons.html)

Culture Guru May 12, 15 7:14 am

I am with United on this one.

Just imagine, if the Pilot would not divert and make an emergency landing, and if there was a problem onboard. There would have been multiple claims against United for not thinking of safety first!

Rules are made and installed to take away subjectivity. The Pilots followed them! ^

channa May 12, 15 7:15 am


Originally Posted by wolf72 (Post 24803043)
This should not have become an issue but if the FA had been a little bit more helpful and also a little bit more graceful, this would not have happened.

You're absolutely right. The situation could have been diffused without issue. The problem is, the crew was not empowered to do so.

If the FA had been compassionate, given the F meal, and gone the extra mile to take care of the special needs kid, the FA could have been disciplined for selling or giving away something they weren't allowed to offer. They were not empowered to do what was needed to make this situation remain calm. The mother offered to pay for the meal -- she wasn't looking for a freebie, she just wanted some help with the resources available on board (a meal they were going to throw away anyway).

NewportGuy May 12, 15 7:19 am


Originally Posted by saneman (Post 24801766)
The key thing is the passengers in the vicinity seemed fine with tolerating the girl the rest of the way.

Do you have a link to this? Because I don't remember anything but the comments on a cell phone video like "there will be a lawsuit" and stuff like that, and those comments came from far back in the plane, and were hardly supportive, only observations based on a litigious society.

mrboom May 12, 15 7:30 am


Originally Posted by NewportGuy (Post 24803210)
Do you have a link to this? Because I don't remember anything but the comments on a cell phone video like "there will be a lawsuit" and stuff like that, and those comments came from far back in the plane, and were hardly supportive, only observations based on a litigious society.

It does not matter what the other passengers think, feel, etc. they are not trained in managing the safety of the plane and passengers, not is it their responsibility. The flight crew is trained and they handled their responsibilities to the best of their ability.

All persons on that flight arrived to their destinations safely. That is the primary role of the flight crew, not to accommodate demands or threats from unprepared parents. Compassion is not a requirement for safe travel.

cruisr May 12, 15 7:43 am

Just listened to 77WABC radio in NYC and the radio hosts totally messed up the story. It was the poor mother....why did t the stewardess (yeah he said stewardess and then said flight attendant) go get a hot meal from first class. Then he went on to say they always have extra meals in first class. Saying the poor mom asked politely for the food and said she'd pay for it. NO mention of the Mom's threat what would happen if the teen did not get the food.

Never thought I'd say this but I feel bad for UAL.

BlueMilk May 12, 15 7:48 am

Well, I, for one, will support the young adult in this whole mess.

She, herself, didn't threaten anyone. She didn't act violently. She didn't melt down or cause a scene.

From her perspective, she travelled with and encountered a bunch of unaccomodating adults. She was humiliated by those who implied she may melt down or become violent. Everyone gets excited. The police removed her from a plane. The scene gets posted on YouTube. Someone gets on the news suggesting she might have tried to blow everyone out an open door.

Quite a day for any 15 year old girl. Quite a day for any human being.

As far as I'm concerned, her own behavior was above reproach and it would be a privilege to fly with her any day.

reamworks May 12, 15 7:58 am


Originally Posted by relangford (Post 24802274)
Seems like both sides erred. The mother said IF (repeat, IF) her daughter could not have some (ANY) hot food, she MIGHT (repeat, MIGHT; rerepeat, MIGHT) act up.

"IF (repeat IF) this plane doesn't land in CUBA, I MIGHT (repeat MIGHT) detonate the bomb in my attaché case"

mrboom May 12, 15 8:04 am


Originally Posted by BlueMilk (Post 24803320)
Well, I, for one, will support the young adult in this whole mess.

She, herself, didn't threaten anyone. She didn't act violently. She didn't melt down or cause a scene.

From her perspective, she travelled with and encountered a bunch of unaccomodating adults. She was humiliated by those who implied she may melt down or become violent. Everyone gets excited. The police removed her from a plane. The scene gets posted on YouTube. Someone gets on the news suggesting she might have tried to blow everyone out an open door.

Quite a day for any 15 year old girl. Quite a day for any human being.

As far as I'm concerned, her own behavior was above reproach and it would be a privilege to fly with her any day.

Good point, she was definitely humiliated by her mother, who implied that she may melt down and become a danger.

I do feel for the girl. I would hate to have helpless parents also.

arctikjon May 12, 15 8:06 am


Originally Posted by reamworks (Post 24803370)
"IF (repeat IF) this plane doesn't land in CUBA, I MIGHT (repeat MIGHT) detonate the bomb in my attaché case"

And this is exactly the issue that caused the diversion. The girl was fine, no one should be blaming her. The mother however in an attempt to get what she wanted in this situation said something off the cuff that came out as a threat. The threat being that her daughter might do something to harm herself or others. I think this was an unfortunate situation that was inevitable once those words were said.

fastflyer May 12, 15 8:49 am


Originally Posted by Miles Ahead (Post 24801868)
She says she's the only member of her family who hasn't been incarcerated.

At least up to now.

Karma with a side of Schadenfreude. ;-)


Originally Posted by cerealmarketer (Post 24801788)
Interesting she says she is a Platinum.

Not anymore.... She and her brood will undoubtedly be banned for life from UA.

divemistressofthedark May 12, 15 9:23 am


Originally Posted by dutyfree (Post 24801021)
The FA lacked common sense and compassion - should have just given the child a warm meal when first asked.

Amen. My read on this from the beginning is that this is a mother who asked for food for her child and was treated badly by airline staff. I admit it resonates, because I personally am so tired of being treated like airlines are doing me a huge favor to transport from A to B even though I've paid for my ticket and my household's taxes help fund the TSA, FAA, etc.

So sad to see that here, as in so many strata of society, something fundamental has changed - An amenity which in years past would have been no big deal to provide is apparently now a luxury reserved for the upper class, and the expectation of basic kindness is no longer the standard.

canddmeyer May 12, 15 9:30 am

If the child was good enough for United to have booked her on another airline then the child is good enough to fly United, unless of course United chooses to discriminate against the autistic.

mrboom May 12, 15 9:35 am


Originally Posted by canddmeyer (Post 24803854)
If the child was good enough for United to have booked her on another airline then the child is good enough to fly United, unless of course United chooses to discriminate against the autistic.

The mother and her threats were the deciding factor, not the child.

I bet the mother kept her {mouth} shut on the Delta flight.

phltraveler May 12, 15 9:39 am

From an article:

Juliette wanted a hot meal, Beegle said, so she purchased a chicken sandwich and asked for it to be warmed in a microwave. The crew refused, she said, telling her the sandwich would get soggy.

Beegle said she told flight attendants that her daughter was about to have a tantrum, and that she could scratch someone.

After about 40 minutes, Beegle said, the crew got the teen a hot serving of jambalaya from first class, "and she was perfectly happy."
So the family:
  1. Has a daughter that refuses to eat hot food during the layover and refuses to eat non-hot food on the plane.
  2. Sits in a class of service where hot food is not generally available.
  3. Asks an FA to microwave a cold sandwich (which the FA refuses to do because it will get soggy - given how upset the teen was before about not having warm food, it's not an invalid criticism.
  4. Has the mom attempt to up the ante by saying if the daughter does not get a hot meal she may physically assault people.
  5. Wonders why they are removed from the aircraft after telling the cabin crew that their daughter may pose a risk to the safety of others.

I'm sorry, but I have to side with UA on this one. The mom used the fact/belief that her daughter could potentially become violent towards other passengers if upset, and the daughter was apparently already "howling" and throwing a tantrum in a distressed emotional state. Captain gets informed of an agitated passenger that may get violent, they seek permission to divert, and do so.

As far as the degree of a threat she posed, that's really not relevant here. The threat was made. Y is not the land of gigantic seats or lots of passenger separation. United will be asked why and United will provide a written explanation that it was for safety reasons.

If there's a lawsuit- I guess they have the freedom to file one, but I cannot imagine it being fruitful given the context provided thus far.

MSPeconomist May 12, 15 9:41 am


Originally Posted by canddmeyer (Post 24803854)
If the child was good enough for United to have booked her on another airline then the child is good enough to fly United, unless of course United chooses to discriminate against the autistic.

Conversely, if the mother uses the child to make a safety threat, then neither of them should have been rebooked onto DL that same evening. In fact, DL flights departing after 8 pm would have had no meals on board and many DL aircraft have no ovens, even in the FC galley.


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