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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)

lskohn May 10, 15 10:31 am

I'm sure UA won't risk further negative publicity, but the fact is that there was an explicit threat of violence, brought to the crew's attention by the mother herself. If a passenger told the crew, "You'd better give my intoxicated travelling companion a first class meal or he/she will meltdown and start scratching people," we wouldn't have this thread (or the media coverage) at all.

Yes, the child has a disability, and Mom was trying to manage it proactively, but there was still the explicit threat of violence in a cabin in the sky. Perhaps the crew could have handled it more diplomatically (announcing a "behaviour issue" was awfully provocative, though factual*), but that's about it. Shouldn't give rise to a successful legal claim, but the lady will get her payoff, I suspect.

*on the other hand, the pilot probably didn't want people worrying that there was a life-threatening condition requiring the diversion - damned if you do, damned if you don't!

restlessinRNO May 10, 15 11:13 am


Originally Posted by miasmal (Post 24793095)
The captain may not have had the full information, i.e. he/she didn't walk back to the cabin to assess the situation - but deemed the situation serious enough to warrant a diversion. It's the captain's call.

"The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft."


Originally Posted by bmwe92fan (Post 24793455)
+1000 - and would appreciate the title of this thread being edited to reflect a more neutral and realistic portrayal of the events....

I agree. An appropriate title might be "Pilot makes needed medical diversion IAH-PDX." :)

bmustaf May 10, 15 11:44 am

I absolutely understand that the internet was largely invented, as far as I know, for two things: 1) Monday Morning Quarterbacking and 2) More Efficient Distribution Of Adult Material, but seriously, this is a huge case of #1 that even makes me scratch my head given that knowledge.

Things are always clearer when the dust settles, but a volatile person or one who requires attention in a way they cannot receive on-board and cannot wait aboard a plane, regardless of reason, is a pretty great reason to divert.

Also, there's always more than meets the reporter's pen and way more than reaches the final article.

Diversions are neither convenient or fun for the crew involved, and quite costly for UA planners/controllers and the business in general, I don't think either party does so without a whole lot of commitment that it's the right thing. I don't think they do it for fun, for sure!

I think, as a now fellow Monday Morning Quarterback, that "possibly scratch someone" did them in. Once the physical altercation cat is outta the bag with the flight crew, there's no going back, IMO/IME.


Originally Posted by Exec_Plat (Post 24791924)
Here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...nted-food.html

Saw it on local TV news as well.

Pilot announcement of diversion was 'we are diverting becuase someone is having a behaviour problem'...

Story now from UA, once that PR and risk management are involved, has been modified to cover there butts.

Mom was smart- demaneded law enforncement obtain statements from other passengers before she would leave. Lots of video, lots of statements from pasenger/witnesses

I think the FA and pilot grossly mishandled this.

There will be a lot about the first class meal business, which isnt really part of the decision to divert...IMO.

If this is a repost, please delete. I searched, I swear.

;)


docbert May 10, 15 11:55 am


Originally Posted by physioprof (Post 24793824)
Do you have a link to this story? Couldn't find it searching Google news.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unite...led-child.html

OccasionalFlyerPerson May 10, 15 12:36 pm

Articles in the more reliable press in the UK are very much pro- the family, not the airline.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/wo...-10239739.html

However, when I dug further, there was more evidence of the daughter's behaviour. If she had been 'howling' and presumably out of control for an hour, and the mother had said that it was possible the daughter would become violent, then I think it's a no brainer to kick them off the plane.

physioprof May 10, 15 12:56 pm


Originally Posted by docbert (Post 24794368)

Thanks!

Exec_Plat May 10, 15 1:18 pm

Nevemind

dank0014 May 10, 15 1:19 pm

Based upon what I see from the articles, UA is in the right. It's a crappy situation for the parents and I feel for them as it is not easy raising a child in general, let alone one with a disability.

Where they went wrong though was the demand, followed by threat, they made.

Regardless of the issues that happened before hand (if there was howling and such), the issue is that the mother indicated a demand (need meal from first class), followed by the threat (she will meltdown and potential physical act will pursue).

My guess is what happened is FA notified Captain, who said, give the meal, we'll take care of the rest.

Best way I see it is (though not as extreme, but who is to say it couldn't get to a more physical level!)....robber goes into bank, says I demand money, bank gives in to the demand (like UA did with the meal) or I'll take a hostage, now robber is happy (passenger is happy) since teller gave money, but in the end, just because demand is meant and robber is happy, doesn't mean the robber is good to go. The police will go after the robber after they exit the bank.

I think if the mother would have handled the situation different from the beginning (regardless of if the mother should have planned better), things could have ended differently. The bad thing is that if the mother maybe didn't make the demand, she takes the calculated risk that her daughter does have a meltdown and in that situation, she is screwed as well as they would now land for an unruly passenger, assuming it got to that level.

JVPhoto May 10, 15 1:34 pm


Originally Posted by bmustaf (Post 24794331)

I think, as a now fellow Monday Morning Quarterback, that "possibly scratch someone" did them in. Once the physical altercation cat is outta the bag with the flight crew, there's no going back, IMO/IME.

Agreed if she didn't bring up that the daughter may launch into scratch attacks it may have been a different issue.
All you needed is one person to get their face scratched and then sue UA for negligence with testimony from the 5-6 witnesses in ear shot who confirm that the parent said the daughter may do this and the FA/crew did nothing to stop that.

bocastephen May 10, 15 2:13 pm


Originally Posted by OccasionalFlyerPerson (Post 24794541)
Articles in the more reliable press in the UK are very much pro- the family, not the airline.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/wo...-10239739.html

However, when I dug further, there was more evidence of the daughter's behaviour. If she had been 'howling' and presumably out of control for an hour, and the mother had said that it was possible the daughter would become violent, then I think it's a no brainer to kick them off the plane.

Not intending to go political, but a lot of these liberal countries (were these people from the UK? I haven't read much more into it) will usually always take the side of the child no matter the issue. Canada is similar - heavens forbid someone opens a bag of peanuts on a Canadian flight if there is an allergic child 30 rows back, there will be hell to pay.

This entire situation sits squarely in the lap of the parents. It's not like their daughter became autistic 15 minutes before boarding, they knew about her condition, knew the risks and failed to prepare and this has entitlement attitude written all over it. If she was this bad, she should have been tranquilized before the flight, or they should not be traveling.

steppie May 10, 15 2:18 pm


Originally Posted by duchy (Post 24792681)
My son is on the autistic spectrum -fortunately flying with him is never an issue but other public place activities can be. I've always felt it is my responsibility to ensure I take all steps to ensure that I don't put him in situations that will cause him or those around us distress or discomfort.

In this case whilst I can see the FA may not have being as helpful and proactive as she could have been ultimately the mother was the one aware ahead of time what the child would need on the flight to avoid discomfort and distress.

Unless there was a reason not to be able to have appropriate tools-in this case suitable food brought on board -for example a delay that led to a tight connection and no time to prepurchase at the airport before boarding then the mother could have done better by her child and her fellow passengers.

If the parent cannot keep their child comfortable enough to fly (whether that means paying for first class or buying food to take on board or even medication) then simply putting the child through flying is inappropriate and cruel to the child. In that situation my child and I simply wouldn't fly but would choose to either not travel or drive. No matter how most of us feel - flying for leisure is not an essential but a leisure choice ultimately.

Well said!

Live4Upgrade May 10, 15 2:19 pm

Good for UA on this one. The mother certainly could of and should of done more to plan for and mitigate the situation.

Why should 100+ passengers be inconvenienced by the needs of 1 passenger. While I can appreciate the mother may have had her hands full, it's not UA's job to bend over backwards and tick-off all the other passengers.

LaserSailor May 10, 15 2:22 pm


Originally Posted by bmustaf (Post 24794331)
I absolutely understand that the internet was largely invented, as far as I know, for two things: 1) Monday Morning Quarterbacking and 2) More Efficient Distribution Of Adult Material, but seriously, this is a huge case of #1 that even makes me scratch my head given that knowledge.

Things are always clearer when the dust settles, but a volatile person or one who requires attention in a way they cannot receive on-board and cannot wait aboard a plane, regardless of reason, is a pretty great reason to divert.

Also, there's always more than meets the reporter's pen and way more than reaches the final article.

Diversions are neither convenient or fun for the crew involved, and quite costly for UA planners/controllers and the business in general, I don't think either party does so without a whole lot of commitment that it's the right thing. I don't think they do it for fun, for sure!

I think, as a now fellow Monday Morning Quarterback, that "possibly scratch someone" did them in. Once the physical altercation cat is outta the bag with the flight crew, there's no going back, IMO/IME.

You left off that Internet was intended to promote Gore, but I fixed that for ya!

There isn't a lot of need to evaluate the violence potential on this case. The minute the Captain gets the feeling that her/his flight crew have a significant load to deal with that impedes with their duties...it's over. A passenger firing of demands is obviously not about to comply with crew member instructions,...off you go.

mahasamatman May 10, 15 3:42 pm


Originally Posted by OccasionalFlyerPerson (Post 24794541)
Articles in the more reliable press in the UK

I didn't realize there was any such thing.


Originally Posted by Exec_Plat (Post 24794700)
So any "meltdown" is cause for diversion?

If there's a direct and specific threat of violent behaviour, absolutely.

dmodemd May 10, 15 3:55 pm

Once I was in line for the initial BP check at the security checkpoint at IAH terminal C and saw a disturbance. It was a mother and father with an approximately 18 yr old autistic boy who was becoming very upset that his mother was leaving (she had already been directed into the security line). They tried discussing it with him quietly but he gradually was becoming more and more upset. After a couple minutes he went violent and hit his mother in the face, knocking her glasses off her face. Fortunately, police had just arrived on the scene and the father and police had to take the boy down. The boy was a good 6 feet tall and was flailing and punching anyone near him. It took the father and two police to restrain him on the ground. Everyone else in line had to quickly move back to avoid the melee.

I would just have to think that the family knows better than anyone how this particular individual might react in certain circumstances. If they perceive any reasonable risk that they might respond violently, they should not be brought to airports or put on airplanes. I know this is a very difficult situation for the family but they have to respect others safety as well.

I would say in this situation, the key is to whether the mother did state there was a threat of a violent reaction. If she did, the pilot made the correct decision and the family may be liable based on whether they felt there was a reasonable risk she could react violently. It sounds like the flight crew went above and beyond their responsibilities to provide assistance to the child and alleviate the situation.

It sounds like the mother complained that the pilot did not take a second assessment after food was provided and that should be considered as well.


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