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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)

LETTERBOY May 13, 15 6:21 am


Originally Posted by OccasionalFlyerPerson (Post 24808008)
while giving limited or in some cases no coverage to differing opinions.

Which is how they usually do things, once they decide what agenda they want to push. :mad::(

JBord May 13, 15 6:59 am


Originally Posted by HkCaGu (Post 24807634)
It is reasonable to me that she wanted FAs trained on autism.

How is this reasonable?

Who will do the training and how much will it cost? How long will FA's need to be off planes? Autism is a complex condition...should the training just consist of following the orders of parents at any cost?

Are there enough instances where autism causes an in-flight issue that all of the above make the cost of training worthwhile? I bet one diversion and a frivolous lawsuit cost less than the training.

Now, what about all the disabilities, medical conditions, and other disorders passengers could have? Why is it reasonable to train on autism but not everything else?

Why limit to airline employees? What about all bus drivers?

You may think it's reasonable, but it's completely impractical.

It's actually the mother that needs training. She needs to learn that a few quiet and polite words to the crew ahead of the flight will likely create a better outcome than threatening harm to other passengers.

NewportGuy May 13, 15 7:19 am


Originally Posted by mrboom (Post 24807954)
The husband seems to be honest while the mother is completely in denial and or changing her version of the story to tailor it to her agenda. Whack job mother. That poor husband and family.

Agree. The Mother doesn't seem to get that the special needs of her "special needs Daughter" are her responsibility. Not mine, not yours, and not United's. I don't get why the press doesn't ask questions, like why the Mother didn't prepare for her daughter's need on the ground. Get hot food to carry on, or arrange for hot food on the plane in advance. You can't drop this stuff on a flight crew after you reach cruising altitude.

azzurro May 13, 15 7:24 am


Originally Posted by HkCaGu (Post 24807634)
So if one can think from her perspective: Whatever fault she had for not being prepared (or surprised), she had to, in good conscience with professional knowledge and personal experience, and especially with the manifested IGNORANCE of the FAs, declare a threat. Upon accommodation, she also in the same manner declared that the threat had ended (especially if the flight had proceeded to PDX as scheduled).

I think it reasonable that the captain chose to act on the initial threat. There is no basis for a captain to believe the threat has ended, or that it wouldn't start up again, simply due to the perpetrator revising their statement. Kind of like saying you have a weapon or malicious intent while at a TSA checkpoint but later saying you were joking. The ordeal that will ensue will not be stopped by revoking your initial threat. Seems like Mom thought the threat would stack her hand, but she didn't realize the deck is weighted to favor the house...

satman40 May 13, 15 7:34 am

The mom has milked her Secial Situation for years, this was prepared,

A normal person limits their liability, unless they want attention for themself..

Do they'd still make thermos jugs...because hot meals at 35,000 feet are limited and delivery service is not good.

She was no MD, A mail order PhD, play it for your newsletter

BlueMilk May 13, 15 7:35 am


Originally Posted by OccasionalFlyerPerson (Post 24807894)
She had been 'howling' before the hot food was supplied. This is extremely different from your description of the situation, and it's clear that the 15 year did not remain calm and composed. Many, if not most, reports of this story have mentioned this behaviour. E.g.

http://gawker.com/united-allegedly-r...-fo-1703774723



Here the parents admit that Juliette had a meltdown on the plane.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/n...tism/27123423/

I'll post the entire "howling" quote from your referenced article:

"There was a lot of howling, and we thought well, what’s going on? And it never stopped,” Hedlund said.

“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,” Hedlund said. “What if she got crazy and got up and opened an exit door at 36,000 feet?”


I'll leave it to the group to assess the credibility of this witness. Others quoted in that same article were less colourful.

The video speaks for itself.

I'll stand by my assessment of the young lady's character. I'll fly with her any day.

cruisr May 13, 15 7:35 am


Originally Posted by LETTERBOY (Post 24808190)
Which is how they usually do things, once they decide what agenda they want to push. :mad::(

Right you are. They like to find a victim de jour whether they are a victim or not.

JBord May 13, 15 7:49 am


Originally Posted by BlueMilk (Post 24808495)

I'll stand by my assessment of the young lady's character. I'll fly with her any day.

No one here is questioning her character. We're questioning the character of her mother. The child did nothing wrong as far as I can tell from the articles.

By the way, incessant howling can be unnerving to those who don't know what's happening. But that has nothing to do with a person's character.

Threatening a FA until you get your way is a fine example of someone's character.

OccasionalFlyerPerson May 13, 15 7:58 am


Originally Posted by BlueMilk (Post 24808495)
I'll post the entire "howling" quote from your referenced article:

"There was a lot of howling, and we thought well, what’s going on? And it never stopped,” Hedlund said.

“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,” Hedlund said. “What if she got crazy and got up and opened an exit door at 36,000 feet?”


I'll leave it to the group to assess the credibility of this witness. Others quoted in that same article were less colourful.

The video speaks for itself.

I'll stand by my assessment of the young lady's character. I'll fly with her any day.

You edited out the part of my post where the young woman's father herself admitted that she'd had a 'meltdown'. Also, just because Hedlund expressed concerns about what may have happened which are not realistic does not in any way mean that her descriptions of what did happen should be ignored. Even passengers such as Chris Hall who don't think Juliette was disruptive enough to justify being thrown off the plane admit that she was making noise. Which is very far from your description of Juliette remaining calm and composed at all times.

Yes, by the time of the video, they were quiet and behaving well. But, you claimed that Juliette had been calm the entire time. This clearly is not the case.

I stand by my conclusion that you have dramatically misrepresented her behaviour on the plane.

beachmouse May 13, 15 8:05 am


Originally Posted by OccasionalFlyerPerson (Post 24808008)
The mother is being supported by the media. The media appear to mostly be reporting her side of the story, while giving limited or in some cases no coverage to differing opinions.

The story showed up in a couple of places on my Facebook feed yesterday. (Redbook, Refinery 29) It was interesting how the first few posts would be all pro-mom, how dare UA? and then someone would say that they read a few more stories that covered more of the whole picture and the tone would shift to being pro-UA instead once a little bit of the airline POV came out.

Mom is described as a frequent flyer. Shouldn't she have well known the airline's policy on food provided (or not) with ticket and what's available for sale long ago?

mrboom May 13, 15 8:07 am

The father states in the video that the daughter scratched him during her melt down. The incident escalated. This behavior, in addition to the mother's threat, are likely the determining factors in the decision to make the emergency landing.

BlueMilk May 13, 15 9:43 am


Originally Posted by JBord (Post 24808348)
How is this reasonable?

Who will do the training and how much will it cost? How long will FA's need to be off planes? Autism is a complex condition...should the training just consist of following the orders of parents at any cost?

Are there enough instances where autism causes an in-flight issue that all of the above make the cost of training worthwhile? I bet one diversion and a frivolous lawsuit cost less than the training.

Now, what about all the disabilities, medical conditions, and other disorders passengers could have? Why is it reasonable to train on autism but not everything else?

Why limit to airline employees? What about all bus drivers?

You may think it's reasonable, but it's completely impractical.

It's actually the mother that needs training. She needs to learn that a few quiet and polite words to the crew ahead of the flight will likely create a better outcome than threatening harm to other passengers.

You raise a couple of interesting points about crew training. Allow me to break it down a bit.

Most of this incident revolves around the interaction between mom and the crew. Mom is not disabled; she is a merely a difficult person. Properly trained FAs should be able to prevent, stabilize or resolve issues with difficult people. It is something right in their wheelhouse.

If this is not included in their training, it is very reasonable to do so. If it is included in their training, then the training failed here.

As for training on disabilities, deep knowledge of all sorts of disabilities is not required. But airlines do make accomodations for disabilities, whether by law or benevolence. It is reasonable to expect FAs to be trained in how disabilities are to be accomodated, and how they can support the caregivers.

In this case the accomodation requested (rudely or not) was to sell a leftover business class meal. If the request was reasonable, then the accomodation should have been made without fuss.

At law, the definition of reasonable becomes important. Differing duties are placed on public entities and private corporations. IMHO it's tragic if a judge needs to decide this case.

On a humanitarian level, the request wouldn't have put anyone out and would have prevented any escalation of tensions.

Here too, I'll fail UA for their training.

channa May 13, 15 9:51 am


Originally Posted by BlueMilk (Post 24809139)
You raise a couple of interesting points about crew training. Allow me to break it down a bit.

Most of this incident revolves around the interaction between mom and the crew. Mom is not disabled; she is a merely a difficult person. Properly trained FAs should be able to prevent, stabilize or resolve issues with difficult people. It is something right in their wheelhouse.

If this is not included in their training, it is very reasonable to do so. If it is included in their training, then the training failed here.

As for training on disabilities, deep knowledge of all sorts of disabilities is not required. But airlines do make accomodations for disabilities, whether by law or benevolence. It is reasonable to expect FAs to be trained in how disabilities are to be accomodated, and how they can support the caregivers.

In this case the accomodation requested (rudely or not) was to sell a leftover business class meal. If the request was reasonable, then the accomodation should have been made without fuss.

At law, the definition of reasonable becomes important. Differing duties are placed on public entities and private corporations. IMHO it's tragic if a judge needs to decide this case.

On a humanitarian level, the request wouldn't have put anyone out and would have prevented any escalation of tensions.

Here too, I'll fail UA for their training.



This was very well said. And outside of the dysfunctional fear culture at United Continental Holdings, this is likely what would have happened elsewhere.

If the FA felt empowered to accommodate and that they would be backed up in doing so, the right thing would have been done, and this would not have escalated into an issue at all.

JBord May 13, 15 10:17 am


Originally Posted by BlueMilk (Post 24809139)
You raise a couple of interesting points about crew training. Allow me to break it down a bit.

Most of this incident revolves around the interaction between mom and the crew. Mom is not disabled; she is a merely a difficult person. Properly trained FAs should be able to prevent, stabilize or resolve issues with difficult people. It is something right in their wheelhouse.

If this is not included in their training, it is very reasonable to do so. If it is included in their training, then the training failed here.

As for training on disabilities, deep knowledge of all sorts of disabilities is not required. But airlines do make accomodations for disabilities, whether by law or benevolence. It is reasonable to expect FAs to be trained in how disabilities are to be accomodated, and how they can support the caregivers.

In this case the accomodation requested (rudely or not) was to sell a leftover business class meal. If the request was reasonable, then the accomodation should have been made without fuss.

At law, the definition of reasonable becomes important. Differing duties are placed on public entities and private corporations. IMHO it's tragic if a judge needs to decide this case.

On a humanitarian level, the request wouldn't have put anyone out and would have prevented any escalation of tensions.

Here too, I'll fail UA for their training.

This is, at least, a more reasonable perspective. UA fails at customer service regularly, and it's scores show that. I have no doubt that the FA could have been more polite or sought to better understand the request.

The next question is whether better customer service would have solved the situation. I'm not sure we can answer that, but I will agree it wouldn't have made it worse.

I do think the FA tried at least a little to ease the situation, as a F meal was brought to the child. It's reasonable for the FA's first response to be that F meals weren't available. The next reaction by the mother was to make a threat. If the mother had calmly explained the situation at that point, perhaps the FA may have agreed and the incident would be over.

IMO, the mother escalated the situation, not the FA. Better customer service may have prevented the situation, but it may not have. The mother turned it into a safety issue. As soon as that happened, the FA was obligated to inform the captain. The captain deemed it a safety issue as well, which is a reasonable reason to divert and deplane a passenger.

It's certainly an unfortunate situation, and it probably could have been avoided, but the mother instigated it. If you look at just the facts, UA did nothing wrong. It doesn't mean any of us feel any better about it happening, but poor customer service is not a reason to file a lawsuit.

I just don't believe this is a training issue. Despite all the customer service training in the world, when a human being is faced with a stressful situation (howling child that had already scratched her father, demanding mother, and a threat that the child might attack other passengers), they sometimes just react.

ski May 13, 15 10:20 am

United seems to be lacking in compassion these days. Some retraining or additional training would be good.


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