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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)

SuzanneSLO May 20, 15 11:42 am

Well, at least the incident should provide Dr. Beegle with another chapter in the life story she has written and is hoping will be turned into a movie on Lifetime. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.p...74353079307579
-- Suzanne

You want to go where? May 20, 15 11:47 am


Originally Posted by cruisr (Post 24844122)
If she were telling the truth her story/wording would not change. if she keeps changing the words/wording what is the truth.

While I do support UA in this particular case and not Ms. Beegle, you cannot draw a conclusion based on the fact that her story/wording changing. In fact, it would be more suspicious if her story was always exactly the same, because that would mean it is rehearsed.

Anyone who has worked with witnesses knows that stories will vary somewhat in their telling each time it is told. However this is irrelevant.

From my understanding. no matter how many times she has told the story, some version of the statement about 'having a meltdown' and 'scratching' was included. Whether to protect other passengers or to protect the autistic child herself, the decision to divert was based on that.

We cannot expect flight attendants or airline pilots to have an exhaustive understanding of autism spectrum disorders. More so, even if they did have such an exhaustive understanding, the manifestation of autism is unique to the individual. There is no way that anyone other than those who are in regular contact with this child can know what the possible outcomes are of this child's 'meltdown'. They can only rely on the statement of the mother, which was, on its face, enough reason to divert.

spin88 May 20, 15 11:52 am

You can all keep insulting the mom, and keep claiming there was a legitimate threat, that a reasonable person would see as a threat. Its the internet, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But (1) so far its 5 passengers who where there saying the FA was out of line, overreacted vs. the FA, not a single witnesses who actual saw what happened had backed the FA, and a FTer actually on the plane did not back the FA, (2) we (now) know the pilot did not declare a security issue, and (3) when the police met the plane, they were going to leave her on the plane, UA then sent her ticket over to DL, which we all know UA would do if those on the ground believed the FA that a threat was made :rolleyes:

United is getting killed in the media on this, and will continue to get killed. When your attitude is "suck it up, we can do what we want to you" you tend to get killed in the media (social and traditional). Airlines are unpopular, and UA is the least popular (vs. NK:o) - stories like this resonate with people as they match their experiences with the "flier-friendly" airline.

More may come out (for example a witnesses who does not paint the FA as an unhelpful rules bound power mad nut :D) but absent this, UAL looses, yet again.

Happy flying!

You want to go where? May 20, 15 12:03 pm


Originally Posted by spin88 (Post 24844768)
You can all keep insulting the mom, and keep claiming there was a legitimate threat, that a reasonable person would see as a threat. Its the internet, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But (1) so far its 5 passengers who where there saying the FA was out of line, overreacted vs. the FA, not a single witnesses who actual saw what happened had backed the FA, and a FTer actually on the plane did not back the FA, (2) we (now) know the pilot did not declare a security issue, and (3) when the police met the plane, they were going to leave her on the plane, UA then sent her ticket over to DL, which we all know UA would do if those on the ground believed the FA that a threat was made :rolleyes:

United is getting killed in the media on this, and will continue to get killed. When your attitude is "suck it up, we can do what we want to you" you tend to get killed in the media (social and traditional).

Frankly, UA is not being 'killed' in the media on this. it was a 24 hour news blip. I wouldn't have known about this story except for this thread. I have seen no media reports on this. Also, I don't see how this action whether the decision was the right one or not is an example of an attitude of 'suck it up, we can do what we want to you.' UA does have plenty of those but this isn't one of those situations.

Also, you are incorrect that witnesses are in agreement that the Flight Attendant overreacted.


spin88 May 20, 15 12:19 pm


Originally Posted by You want to go where? (Post 24844825)
Frankly, UA is not being 'killed' in the media on this. I wouldn't have known about this story except for this thread. I have seen no media reports on this. Also, I don't see how this action whether the decision was the right one or not is an example of an attitude of 'suck it up, we can do what we want to you.' UA does have plenty of those but this isn't one of those situations.

It made the national news and was in the major papers (NYT, W Post, WSJ) and travel bloggers have covered it. ABC broke this story. It has gotten wide coverage (more so than some other UA joys like bumping pearl harbor survivors). 200M eyeballs have not seen it, but a lot (particularly on ABC) have. Those stories are favorable to the mom, not so much for our "flier-friendly" friends. UA's media operation is piss poor to let stories like this continue to happen.

Re attitude? Refusing to warm the chicken sandwich for the family (the one UA sells Hot on "selected flights") is what gets me. Yes, it was not "required" but it was certainly possible. The FA did not want to do something to help, and when the mom explaining the situation did not get the FA to relent.

We can debate whether her last comment (after which the FA brought some warm food) was a threat - as everyone reasonable on this thread has agreed, context and tone are the key, and so far its 5 vs. the FA. But, I think everyone has to agree that the FA could have, and given that a divert was the result, should have done even a little more to address what clearly was, for the mom, a very real issue.

This family has flown lots, never with a problem, and that says that with a "little help from our friends" there would have not been an issue.


Originally Posted by You want to go where? (Post 24844825)

Also, you are incorrect that witnesses are in agreement that the Flight Attendant overreacted.

Responding to this which you added later.

If you look up thread, you will see that the witness quoted as saying the FA overreacted was next to the family, the only "witness" for the FA (Hedland) was in row 2, well out of earshot, and a FTer was also in row 2 and actually posted in this tread (I linked to these posts in my first post since everyone was ignoring what he said) says (1) she was not in a position to see anything, and (2) she is wrong, there was no howling.


Even {posters} have given up trying to cite Hedland as given any support for the FAs accounts.

There is not a single media report I have seen, and despite multiple claims that witnesses backed the FA, no one has cited anyone who actually heard/saw what happened as backing the FA.

You want to go where? May 20, 15 12:33 pm


Originally Posted by spin88 (Post 24844929)
We can debate whether her last comment (after which the FA brought some warm food) was a threat - as everyone reasonable on this thread has agreed, context and tone are the key.

Yes, but that is only because your definition of 'everyone reasonable' is everyone who agrees with you. That argument doesn't fly with me. There have been many on this thread who have said that where threats are concerned, context and tone tend to be ignored, because a misinterpretation of that context and tone can lead to terrible results, so that you have to rely solely on the words as spoken.

JBord May 20, 15 12:55 pm


Originally Posted by You want to go where? (Post 24844997)
Yes, but that is only because your definition of 'everyone reasonable' is everyone who agrees with you. That argument doesn't fly with me. There have been many on this thread who have said that where threats are concerned, context and tone tend to be ignored, because a misinterpretation of that context and tone can lead to terrible results, so that you have to rely solely on the words as spoken.

While I'm nearly 100% in agreement with you overall, I do think that context plays a part. The same words could be construed as a threat or as a desperate mother warning the crew of a likely outcome...for instance saying "If you don't give me my pill, I might have a heart attack" isn't really a threat.

"If she doesn't get hot food, she might have a meltdown."

HOWEVER - based on everything I've read, including the mother's own words, this seems like a threat to me. It's an opinion, as I wasn't there. I completely agree with others here that the crew did the best thing for the family as well as other passengers, and now the mother is trying to get attention for her work, when instead she should be expressing her gratitude for UA allowing them to land and take care of the child's needs at SLC.

Again, spin88, I think you know these "witnesses" may not hold up if this goes to court. Very few, if any, probably heard the complete conversation, or paid attention to every interaction. Some probably had headphones on to drown out the howling. These witnesses have spoken for two reasons...1) they're upset about the diversion, and 2) the mother asked people around her to give statements in support of her. UA will have it's own statements, and they're likely to be more complete. You may be right, or you may be wrong, but I wouldn't be hanging my argument on these 5 people until we know more of the story.

spin88 May 20, 15 1:00 pm


Originally Posted by You want to go where? (Post 24844997)
Yes, but that is only because your definition of 'everyone reasonable' is everyone who agrees with you. That argument doesn't fly with me. There have been many on this thread who have said that where threats are concerned, context and tone tend to be ignored, because a misinterpretation of that context and tone can lead to terrible results, so that you have to rely solely on the words as spoken.

No to the bolded part. I have repeatedly said that what matters is what is reported by those who were actually there. I, and you, and all but one person on this thread, the FTer in row 2 of this flight, have no idea. I am merely pointing out for those keeping score that so far it is 5 passengers who saw/heard what happened vs. one FA.

If I am playing the odds, I believe I know where this goes.

Nothing in what the mom said is a pre se threat. If it were, the police would have removed her, and UA would not have put her on a DL flight. Since they did not, we are back to context and inflection, and 5 passengers with no ax to grind vs. one FA.

MSPeconomist May 20, 15 1:01 pm

When threats to commercial aircraft are involved, tone and context don't matter, nor do the opinions of a handful of passengers on board who may have volunteered to make their impressions known, regardless of whether or not they are reasonable. Look at the signs around airport checkpoints warning people that it's a felony to joke about bombs and weapons.

I suspect that when the situation arose, the FA was required by both UA and the FAA to report it to the pilot in charge. One could perhaps quibble about whether the FA described the situation to the pilot accurately and if not, whether this was done on purpose or with malice (and why). Again, UA/FAA rules and standard security procedures would have prevented the pilot from leaving the cockpit to assess the situation personally, so while the pilot was responsible for making the decision to divert, it necessarily was based on the FA's account of the incident as well as medical advice from the ground. I suspect that the pilot's characterizing the situation, after some hesitation, as medical rather than security was an attempt to be kind to the family and prevent them from facing criminal repercussions from that flight.

Baze May 20, 15 1:02 pm


Originally Posted by spin88 (Post 24844969)
Responding to this which you added later.

If you look up thread, you will see that the witness quoted as saying the FA overreacted was next to the family, the only "witness" for the FA (Hedland) was in row 2, well out of earshot, and a FTer was also in row 2 and actually posted in this tread (I linked to these posts in my first post since everyone was ignoring what he said) says (1) she was not in a position to see anything, and (2) she is wrong, there was no howling.


Even the UA defenders have given up trying to cite Hedland (woman's name, she is clearly a peach if you see pictures of her...) as given any support for the FAs accounts.

There is not a single media report I have seen, and despite multiple claims that witnesses backed the FA, no one has cited anyone who actually heard/saw what happened as backing the FA.

Just because no one ran to the media in support of the FA's actions does not mean there were none. And only 5 (by your number) came out against the FA. What about the other 100+ people on board? I would say UA is reaching out to people to piece together the whole, true story. Whichever way it goes. Most people I know just don't like to get involved publicly in situations but if contacted by one of the sides, not media, would give their interpretation of what they saw or heard. So I wouldn't be so quick yo say which side is correct. We can argue all day and night and not really know what happened.

I think we need to step back and take a breath because people from both sides of the argument are getting too adamant that their side is correct. Hopefully we get to hear or read about the result of any investigation. But until then this thread is just rehashing opinions on either side without all the facts.

spin88 May 20, 15 1:09 pm


Originally Posted by JBord (Post 24845093)

Again, spin88, I think you know these "witnesses" may not hold up if this goes to court. Very few, if any, probably heard the complete conversation, or paid attention to every interaction. Some probably had headphones on to drown out the howling. These witnesses have spoken for two reasons...1) they're upset about the diversion, and 2) the mother asked people around her to give statements in support of her. UA will have it's own statements, and they're likely to be more complete. You may be right, or you may be wrong, but I wouldn't be hanging my argument on these 5 people until we know more of the story.

100% agree that they may not hold up, I'm just pointing out that right now its 5 passengers (+ the family) vs. one FA. That may change, but contrary to what 99% of the posters on this thread think, United is behind at this point.

United is going to have a very hard time (if it gets to court, it will not, saner heads at UA will prevail, absent some really good witness for UA) explaining this to a jury when the police testify they were not going to remove her as she was not a threat, only did so because the pilot - who had not seen or heard anything - asked them to leave. Ditto the rebook on DL, very hard to explain.

BTB, IMHO no one is "taking a side" due to being upset about the divert. The divert has simply made peoples views stronger. E.g. Hedlund being in row 2, says/knows nothing, but she spouted off since she was afraid the girl would open up an exit door, and she felt threatened. That (unrealistic) fear is at the center of whatever she says.


Originally Posted by MSPeconomist (Post 24845124)
When threats to commercial aircraft are involved, tone and context don't matter, nor do the opinions of a handful of passengers on board who may have volunteered to make their impressions known, regardless of whether or not they are reasonable. Look at the signs around airport checkpoints warning people that it's a felony to joke about bombs and weapons.

(1) bomb or gun, or ISIS were not mentioned, if they were, or any actual threat made, (2) the police would have removed them. That they did not takes that issue off the table. No reasonable person is going to believe that they made a threat, but the police ignored it, and UA just put them on a DL flight. There was no per se threat.


Originally Posted by Baze (Post 24845131)
Just because no one ran to the media in support of the FA's actions does not mean there were none. And only 5 (by your number) came out against the FA. What about the other 100+ people on board? I would say UA is reaching out to people to piece together the whole, true story. Whichever way it goes. Most people I know just don't like to get involved publicly in situations but if contacted by one of the sides, not media, would give their interpretation of what they saw or heard. So I wouldn't be so quick yo say which side is correct. We can argue all day and night and not really know what happened.

I think we need to step back and take a breath because people from both sides of the argument are getting too adamant that their side is correct. Hopefully we get to hear or read about the result of any investigation. But until then this thread is just rehashing opinions on either side without all the facts.

I have said 10x, and I'll say it an 11th, more witnesses may come out. There was a great rush on this board to hang the mom based upon (1) inaccurate reports of what happened (such as the mom saying daughter would "scratch others", or (2) inaccurate views the mom made a series of unreasonable and "over-entitled" demands and was a bad parent.

But at this point, it remains 5 witnesses with no ax to grand (and the parents) + the police and UA grounds staff (by their actions) vs. the one FA. However you view it at this, its advantage mom at this point.

Happy flying on the "flier-friendly" airline. :)

MSPeconomist May 20, 15 1:29 pm


Originally Posted by spin88 (Post 24845152)
United is going to have a very hard time (if it gets to court, it will not, saner heads at UA will prevail, absent some really good witness for UA) explaining this to a jury when the police testify they were not going to remove her as she was not a threat, only did so because the pilot - who had not seen or heard anything - asked them to leave. Ditto the rebook on DL, very hard to explain.


Originally Posted by spin88 (Post 24845195)
(1) bomb or gun, or ISIS were not mentioned, if they were, or any actual threat made, (2) the police would have removed them. That they did not takes that issue off the table. No reasonable person is going to believe that they made a threat, but the police ignored it, and UA just put them on a DL flight. There was no per se threat.

We don't really know what would have happened, but I assume that if the family had refused to leave the aircraft when the pilot or other UA officials told them to get off, the police would have been called back to the gate and then the police would have removed them, by force if necessary.

You want to go where? May 20, 15 1:33 pm


Originally Posted by spin88 (Post 24845152)
100% agree that they may not hold up, I'm just pointing out that right now its 5 passengers (+ the family) vs. one FA. That may change, but contrary to what 99% of the posters on this thread think, United is behind at this point.

It isn't a race or a poll. Evidence is about quality not quantity. At least a number of those 5 were people who only saw the child when she was exiting the plane. This was not when the decision was made to divert.


Originally Posted by spin88 (Post 24845152)
United is going to have a very hard time (if it gets to court, it will not, saner heads at UA will prevail, absent some really good witness for UA) explaining this to a jury when the police testify they were not going to remove her as she was not a threat, only did so because the pilot - who had not seen or heard anything - asked them to leave. Ditto the rebook on DL, very hard to explain.

Less so than you might think. They don't have to worry about the police or the rebook because both of those decisions were taken at a different time from the decision to divert. They are irrelevant as to whether the decision to divert was an appropriate one. The only evidence that is relevant is what happened on the plane at the time the decision to divert was taken and the law gives a lot of discretion to flight crews in this instance. An effective judge may not only ask for a verdict, but also ask the jury to answer a series of questions of fact. to ensure that the jury is not being swayed by the emotional content of the case or irrelevant informaton. If the answer to the questions is inconsistent with the verdict, the judge will direct the verdict accordingly.


Originally Posted by spin88 (Post 24845152)
BTB, IMHO no one is "taking a side" due to being upset about the divert. The divert has simply made peoples views stronger. E.g. Hedlund being in row 2, says/knows nothing, but she spouted off since she was afraid the girl would open up an exit door, and she felt threatened. That (unrealistic) fear is at the center of whatever she says.

Equally, many of the passengers who are saying that there was no problem are basing that solely on the child's state as she left the aircraft. They did not see her at the moment the decision was made and they did not hear the mother talk about a 'meltdown' and its consequences. It is quite likely there are only one or two witnesses beyond the FA and the child's family that can honestly testify to the specific circumstances that led to the diversion.

spin88 May 20, 15 1:34 pm


Originally Posted by MSPeconomist (Post 24845248)
We don't really know what would have happened, but I assume that if the family had refused to leave the aircraft when the pilot or other UA officials told them to get off, the police would have been called back to the gate and then the police would have removed them, by force if necessary.

Again, I don't blame the pilot, he is locked in the pointy end, and what he knows is what the FA tells him. Had he not had the passengers removed he would have looked silly, that does not help UA here. Every report says that police and paramedics came on board, found no issue, and were leaving, when the pilot insisted the family leave. Those reports may be wrong, but if they are not, the judgement of the EMTs and police (that there was no threat posed by this family) will be very hard for UAL to overcome if this goes to a jury.

Miles Ahead May 20, 15 1:42 pm


Originally Posted by spin88 (Post 24845195)
inaccurate reports of what happened (such as the mom saying daughter would "scratch others"

According to KOIN, the mother told them that Juliette might "scratch someone". It is not inaccurate just because it doesn't fit your preferred narrative.


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