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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)

MSPeconomist May 12, 15 12:15 pm


Originally Posted by DocP (Post 24804493)
United made an emergency diversion to SLC. They do not have direct flights from there to her final destination. The options were another airline, ground travel, or a multi flight reroute. A nonstop home on Delta was the most reasonable option.

If I'm a DL passenger at risk of being scratched by the kid, UA not having nonstop service isn't my problem. If UA feels that the kid is safe to fly, they put them onto UA flights instead of just rebooking the UA problem over to another carrier. Better yet, let them rent a car and drive home so that they can stop at restaurants for hot meals when needed. Then if the kid howls the whole way, it doesn't disturb other people either.

MSPeconomist May 12, 15 12:18 pm


Originally Posted by reamworks (Post 24803968)
What shocks me is many comments like yours and on other sites frame this as a "class war". It's as if some evil, greedy, "Scrooge McDuck" / "Mr. Monopoly Moneybags" types with their monocles in First Class are enjoying their hot meals in first class while some poor family is forced to sit in the back of the plane with (horrors!) cold food! And isn't it awful that not one of these fat-cats in the front of the plane rushed over to volunteer his warm roast duck confit on a bed of farro risotto and glazed asparagus to help a poor little girl with emotional problems even after the girl's family offered to pay for a warm meal with the sweat of their brow!

Sorry, but "class war" arguments like this don't get any sympathy from me. First class is open to everyone who wants to pay for the ticket. For many people, it's not worth it. The benefits of each fare class are clearly described.

Google the mother's name and you'll see lots of references to antipoverty activism.

To respond to another post, the father was right there sitting next to the girl, who was in a window seat. Mother apparently had the aisle seat in the same row. There also apparently was a son, but I don't think where he was sitting has been mentioned.

beachmouse May 12, 15 1:01 pm


Originally Posted by Soccerdad1995 (Post 24804499)
And you would be facing civil and potentially also criminal charges if you did decide to "control" that kid. Good luck with that.

Which is why I'm glad that UA acted to protect other passengers from possibly ending up in a bad criminal/civil legal scenario.

copperred May 12, 15 1:02 pm


Originally Posted by fly747first (Post 24804807)
United is unquestionably the worst network airline in the U.S. these days. Terrible management has created a ghastly corporate culture where employees act like the customers who build their revenue are "overentitled" despicable creatures who do not deserve any sympathy or even basic mercy.

I do believe that the mother blew things out of proportion but so did the United crew.

It's interesting to see that these incidents don't have at AA/US and DL nearly as often as UA. Again, the company's culture continues to foster a negative environment for everyone in it.

Why does it happen less on other airlines? Because UA is a garbage airline these days, with lots of barely sentient employees. That FA had a hissy fit and should have been ejected as well.

copperred May 12, 15 1:04 pm


Originally Posted by kmersh (Post 24802896)
I had dinner last night with one of my best buds and golf partner who as his day job is an airport police officer.

He says all the time that Gate Agents/Flight Attendants/Captains and the TSA all too easily call the police over matters that could be handled without the intervention of the Police. He says all the time the he is called to situations which are silly and do not in anyway represent a security risk and most times he tells everyone to just calm down and get over it.

In this case he felt United decided to divert due to fear of what this girl might do and the Parents who know her best and might be able to explain to the crew what if anything the girl could do became no longer reliable when Mom made the threat. Would he take an enforcement approach absolutely not and when he wrote up his after action report he would write it up as a Medical Issue, NOT A SECURITY one.

That is his opinion and he feels Airline Employees and the TSA find it easier to call the Police rather than attempt to handle issues themselves. Whether he is right or wrong, I honestly do not know, but wanted to share an Airport Law Enforcement Employees point of view.

So, so true. The TSA drones have annoyed the FBI so much at DCA that the agents on site have no problems now yelling at them when they pull stupid, idiotic asinine things and demand the FBI intervene. TSA are not sworn officers and neither are pilots, GAs or FAs, no matter what fancy schmancy uniform they wear.

mduell May 12, 15 1:17 pm

I'd like to buy a hot business-class meal on my next UA TATL in economy so I don't get cranky. Anyone know how much it costs and what forms for payment are accepted?


Originally Posted by relangford (Post 24802274)
An intelligent/conpassionate/thoughtful FA would have at least considered getting some (ANY) hot food rather than "NO!".

That's exactly what the FA did.


Originally Posted by channa (Post 24803191)
she just wanted some help with the resources available on board (a meal they were going to throw away anyway).

Link for that?


Originally Posted by divemistressofthedark (Post 24803817)
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.

Yea, it's all about class warfare, and nothing to do with threats of violence.

How about some basic kindness from the doctor and her daughter?


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.

UA doesn't have any nonstop flights SLC-PDX, so in keeping with *A guidelines and the passengers best interest, DL is the obvious choice on that route.

wrp96 May 12, 15 1:25 pm

As to the request to microwave, there aren't real microwaves onboard like the average person thinks about. So it's not as easy as popping something in for a minute and voila it's hot.

brainchasm May 12, 15 2:24 pm

I can understand the mother's plight, honestly. I am not a parent, but I have dealt with autistic kids before. They are a handful, and not wholly predictable.

People on here say she should have brought the right food. Yeah, ok...try determining what is right for an autistic kid at any given moment, and I'll show you proof of ESP.

She brought food, and it was obviously food that normally works, but the kid refused it. Try forcing or reasoning with an autistic kid in regards to eating. Good luck with that, btw.

So, she noticed her little flower is starting to fade. She knows what that will lead to. She knows the child either wants/needs a hot meal, AND SHE OFFERS TO BUY ONE!

And gets told no

The food is on the plane, she is offering to pay (and probably will pay a good chunk more than it's worth), and is doing what she can to solve the situation...

And the flight attendant wants to be ......?

And finally, with a chip on their shoulder, they give her the meal...and then out of spite divert the plane and inconvenience all the pax, to make a point.

That, is some .........

reamworks May 12, 15 2:36 pm


Originally Posted by brainchasm (Post 24805583)
And gets told no. [Note: lies about United telling pax an obscenity originally stated by brianchasm have been removed]

The food is on the plane, she is offering to pay (and probably will pay a good chunk more than it's worth), and is doing what she can to solve the situation...


This woman, the girl's mother, allegedly has a Ed.D or a Ph.D. (her own organization's website claims both or either, see http://www.combarriers.com/pdf/the_crossing.pdf ). You would think an educated woman would know that a flight attendant is not the proprietor of an independent restaurant, and has no way to provision, price, or sell food items that are already reserved for other customers.

Regardless of this, the FA did supply a hot meal, to try to accommodate this request. But the "Mother" here made a specific threat of violence. That's what brought down the plane.

mduell May 12, 15 2:38 pm


Originally Posted by brainchasm (Post 24805583)
So, she noticed her little flower is starting to fade. She knows what that will lead to. She knows the child either wants/needs a hot meal, AND SHE OFFERS TO BUY ONE!

And gets told no

The food is on the plane, she is offering to pay (and probably will pay a good chunk more than it's worth), and is doing what she can to solve the situation...

There's no hot food for sale on the plane. Premium cabin meals are not for sale AFAIK. If they are, perhaps you can answer my post above: I'd like to buy a hot business-class meal on my next UA TATL in economy so I don't get cranky. Anyone know how much it costs and what forms for payment are accepted?

You can offer all you want to buy a product that's not being sold, but it's not going to do you any good. I can offer UA all I want to buy overhead bin space, they're not selling it, even though it's on board.


Originally Posted by reamworks (Post 24805647)
This woman, the girl's mother, allegedly has a Ph.D.

Ed.D.

JBord May 12, 15 3:26 pm


Originally Posted by mduell (Post 24805662)
There's no hot food for sale on the plane. Premium cabin meals are not for sale AFAIK. If they are, perhaps you can answer my post above: I'd like to buy a hot business-class meal on my next UA TATL in economy so I don't get cranky. Anyone know how much it costs and what forms for payment are accepted?

A number of questions have been posed in this thread that haven't been answered. I think we know why. Your question is a good one.

I've also asked questions such as what happens if the child eats the last hot meal, and later in the flight decides she needs another one?

It's an emotional topic, but we need to look at it from the FA and Captain's point of view. They aren't trying to be mean to anyone or discriminate against anyone. They're applying logic to a situation that occurred 35k feet in the air, and trying to mitigate a risk that the mother identified for them.

reamworks May 12, 15 3:42 pm


Originally Posted by MattR23 (Post 24804188)
Here is the mother's story in her own words: https://www.facebook.com/donna.m.bee...16056981803855

Interesting! From her "story"


The paramedic rolled his eyes, said they had real work they should be doing and they were going to leave. He warned me that we may be asked to leave the plane. I was completely baffled. "Why?" He said this happens more often than you might imagine. He told me if they asked us to get off the plane we should just quietly get off. The paramedics left the plane.

Does this account ring true to you? How often are United flights making unscheduled landings because of passenger issues? Do you think it happens often enough so a paramedic might say "this happens more often than you might imagine?" I think it should be easy to tell how often this happens by looking at public flight records.

Do you believe a paramedic would say that he has "real work [he] should be doing" while rolling his eyes?

Nothing this Mother says is credible. And then she goes off on a strange tangent, comparing her plight to that of "people facing poverty!".


This was a sheer case of ignorance. Prejudice, ignorance and mistreatment are all too common toward people facing poverty. The parallels between special needs and poverty are striking in that both are causes for judgement, misunderstanding and mistreatment.
Does this seem like a sane woman to you? She just enjoyed a Disney World vacation, and she's comparing herself to "people facing poverty!" It's a sad world we live in where people like this "Mother" get the attention of the media.


The officer asked us again to quietly exit the plane. I was furious. I stood and shouted so the passengers could hear. "Is there anyone on this plane who feels threatened by our Juliette who faces autism? Has Juliette alarmed or harmed anyone on this plane? Passengers stood up for Juliette and shouted, "She is fine," "Leave her alone." "She is not causing a problem lets go to Portland." "This is ridiculous," and mouthed to me "I am so sorry."
So the Officer asked her to leave the plane and she didn't. Instead she stood up and shouted. Shame on the officer for not restraining her in handcuffs, and/or not using a a taser to make her comply.

ericdc98201 May 12, 15 3:50 pm

I also think UA made the right call. I'm a teacher and routinely deal with kids all over the autism spectrum. Kids on the spectrum exhibit different behaviors (occasionally violent), but how many people know that? Plenty of kids on the spectrum could easily handle this situation.

After viewing brief news footage showing the girl rocking wildly in her airline seat, the situation doesn't seem as innocuous as the mom frames it. I certainly wouldn't have liked being in an adjacent seat. How many people really want to make public statements to tv stations or newspapers in support of the flight attendant? They would look like total jerks because the girl deserves compassion.

The mom made a statement insinuating a violent reaction might occur. I wouldn't expect the FA would really know what the result would be. 15 year olds are usually adult sized so they aren't easily controlled like a younger kid.

Clearly the mom should have done a better job preparing for the journey. Travelling with an insulated bag and purchasing hot food in Houston might have been the key in this situation.

channa May 12, 15 3:53 pm


Originally Posted by reamworks (Post 24805969)
Do you believe a paramedic would say that he has "real work [he] should be doing" while rolling his eyes?

Nothing this Mother says is credible.


If you've ever dealt with airport paramedics, 9 times out of 10 (or maybe even more) they are dealing with non-issues. So yes, I can understand that comment.

These are not paramedics who are called by people who legitimately think they or someone needs medical attention. They are paramedics called out by procedure for the most minor of issues so the airline can cover their butts:

Someone with food poisoning, someone feeling a little faint or tired, someone who drank too much, a slip and fall, etc.

These are all issues that had they happened outside of an airplane, would not have summoned professional medical attention.

Someone tripping and falling on a plane is a medical emergency with the plane met by paramedics. If it happened on a subway or bus, someone would have given him a seat, he would have kept going.

MattR23 May 12, 15 4:27 pm


Originally Posted by reamworks (Post 24805969)
Nothing this Mother says is credible. And then she goes off on a strange tangent, comparing her plight to that of "people facing poverty!".

Does this seem like a sane woman to you? She just enjoyed a Disney World vacation, and she's comparing herself to "people facing poverty!" It's a sad world we live in where people like this "Mother" get the attention of the media.

I thought that was weird too at first. But if you look at her profile, you'll see that her life's work is all about poverty. She has studied poverty and is the president of an organization that "is dedicated to broadening and improving opportunities for people who live in the war zone of poverty."


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