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UA Pilot Diverts to Remove Autistic Child From Plane for Safety Reasons

UA Pilot Diverts to Remove Autistic Child From Plane for Safety Reasons

Old May 10, 15, 7:27 pm
  #61  
 
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Why would anyone want them to sue and win? Would anyone like a precident to be set that forces crews to 2nd guess the "safety first" mentality of the flight deck personnel?
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Old May 10, 15, 7:36 pm
  #62  
 
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Originally Posted by fastair View Post
Why would anyone want them to sue and win? Would anyone like a precident to be set that forces crews to 2nd guess the "safety first" mentality of the flight deck personnel?
I agree 100% with this. Like I said up-thread, put me on the jury and mom gets ZERO!
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Old May 10, 15, 8:38 pm
  #63  
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When I saw the thread title saying autistic child, I was thinking we were talking about a young child, not a teenager that is as big as an adult. I am even more on the side of the flight attendant and the captain now.
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Old May 10, 15, 8:56 pm
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I would imagine the girl would be annoying to listen to for a couple of hours more. But come on, safety threat???? What are we , a bunch of wusses these days? If I am a passenger, I would want to just get home ASAP instead of stopping midway and waste my time. I could control that kid one one quite easily even if she was Linda Blair in the Exorcist.
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Old May 10, 15, 8:57 pm
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This is a tough one. Most people with an autistic child would favor the family and say that UA is 100% wrong.

My GF has a severe, now 10 year old autistic son and we did have an incident with UA last year (search "Autistic" if any one wants to read about it). Anyways, after my post on FT and UA Customer Care, the situation was handled quickly by upper UA management and we were even given a small token of appreciation of 2k miles each. I felt that the FA was handed a proper notice and that our issue would not happen again (at least by that FA). For this situation, other than money, I am not so sure why this family is so eager to file a lawsuit so quickly. I believe there are other avenues available if they want their situation to be more vocal in the media.

As for our flights, my GF's son recently just completed his first transcon flight. We brought on-board plenty of food, IPads, Laptops, and made sure we sat closer to the lavatory. He was fed before the flight, ate on the plane and had plenty of entertainment to keep him occupied. For the first 30 mins and the last 30 mins, he would just stare out of the window. Because there was a toddler that literally cried on the whole flight, he did do some slight hissing. However, that is very common for autistic children when they encounter the high pitch crying. His hissing was never a threat nor did anyone else notice it. We kept it discreet by giving him a shoelace for him toss around in his hands and turned up the volume on his noise cancelling headphones.

For me, it seems that this family had a long layover in IAH. They could have purchased hot food there for the next flight and also fed their daughter. I understand autistic children have an unique diet but IAH is not a small airport with limited food offering. On the connecting flight, they could have even asked if the FA would the reheat the food for them. If they did purchase food in IAH and got the wrong food, then I would have bought a little bit of everything. It is much better to be over prepared. Before I jump to any conclusion and given the limited information, I must agree with the actions of UA. I felt that the mom did not have the proper food and she said things that should not have been said to a FA on any flight. She may have known that the consequences would only be some minor scratches and maybe those scratches are only directed towards the parents. However, when a FA hears "meltdown" and "scratches", they immediately think about passenger safety. At home or in our private car, my GF's son does have a "meltdown" and can scratch us when any sort of emergency sirens drives by. However, he would never scratch a stranger and does not display this type of behavior in public or at school. Unfortunately random people do not know this and who knows how they would react if I went up to someone and just said "meltdown" followed by "scratches".

From this situation, I believe there should be more public awareness about autism. Researcher say that 1 out of 88 children have some sort of ASD. Hopefully one day a cure can be found!

Last edited by sna430; May 10, 15 at 9:11 pm Reason: Add sentence
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Old May 10, 15, 9:02 pm
  #66  
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Originally Posted by saneman View Post
I would imagine the girl would be annoying to listen to for a couple of hours more. But come on, safety threat???? What are we , a bunch of wusses these days? If I am a passenger, I would want to just get home ASAP instead of stopping midway and waste my time. I could control that kid one one quite easily even if she was Linda Blair in the Exorcist.
The child's mom mentioned that her daughter could/might end up scratching at someone and that could have been a very ugly situation of the pax who gets scratched grabs (let alone just touches) the child in an attempt to stop the child where mom attempts to intervene with a "don't touch my child" and the next thing you know, because folks heard "don't touch my child", you have the flight being diverted due to a sexual predator-or simply leaving that part out, mom intervenes and the scratched pax and her get into it. Thank you and I'll take diversions for $200 please Alex as imho, the crew did the right thing

Last edited by goalie; May 11, 15 at 9:15 am Reason: typos
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Old May 10, 15, 9:19 pm
  #67  
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Originally Posted by kettle1 View Post
I agree 100% with this. Like I said up-thread, put me on the jury and mom gets ZERO!
IMO she should get a negative amount. When she demanded the FC food, either there should be a fee for this or she should pay the fare difference to a FC ticket since FC amenities were offered--and some confirmed FC passenger probably lost a meal over the incident.
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Old May 10, 15, 9:57 pm
  #68  
 
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Originally Posted by saneman View Post
I would imagine the girl would be annoying to listen to for a couple of hours more. But come on, safety threat???? What are we , a bunch of wusses these days? If I am a passenger, I would want to just get home ASAP instead of stopping midway and waste my time. I could control that kid one one quite easily even if she was Linda Blair in the Exorcist.
What do you think the dozens of police at a station would say if you told them one of your party was about to lose it, a member of diminished capacity, that you, her own parents could not control and would start scratching people? Armed adult, mostly male in a secured environment with many different restraining device handy where they are prepared for violence? My guess is they would implement some "safety precautions". Now remove all the advantages of the police, the station, and stick the situation in to a densely populated can defying gravity at 35,000 feet traveled my at near 400 mph in a pressurized tube with women, children and other that are trapped in an enclosed environment with no way to exit or get medical attention if necessary


Yea, over reaction, no threat.
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Old May 10, 15, 11:40 pm
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Hedlund is {wrong} ... there's no way anybody is going to be able to open the doors while in flight!

Hedlund said. “What if she got crazy and got up and opened an exit door at 36,000 feet?”
Originally Posted by OccasionalFlyerPerson View Post
There is more information here:

http://koin.com/2015/05/09/she-wasnt...use-of-autism/

Particularly interesting IMHO are the comments from other passengers Hall (who supports the family) and Hedlund (who supports the airline).

Last edited by WineCountryUA; May 11, 15 at 6:32 am Reason: Let's keep the discussion civil
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Old May 11, 15, 12:02 am
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Originally Posted by malgudi View Post
Hedlund is {wrong} ... there's no way anybody is going to be able to open the doors while in flight!
Not everyone know that. Even if they knew, it doesn't stop them from trying...just saying.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; May 11, 15 at 6:31 am Reason: quote updated to reflect mod edit
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Old May 11, 15, 1:40 am
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One of the things I read was that the daughter would only eat hot food. She said she had no way to heat food on the plane.

Do they not have cup-o-soup where she comes from? If I had a kid who had that requirement I'd have at least one of those tucked away, maybe two. They always have hot water for tea.

In fact...maybe I should bring that on my next non-VX transcon. If I'm not special needs would they give me enough hot water for instant noodles?
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Old May 11, 15, 3:36 am
  #72  
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http://www.cbsnews.com/news/autistic...gency-landing/

Her mother says Juliette is a picky eater, so she asked a flight attendant if she could purchase a hot meal from first class -- and says she was told no.

"Well, I said, 'How about we wait for her to have a meltdown and then she is crying and tries to scratch -- and then you'll want to help her,'"
Beegle said she told the flight attendant.
Attitude always helps your cause.
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Old May 11, 15, 5:07 am
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Originally Posted by JakiChan View Post
Do they not have cup-o-soup where she comes from? If I had a kid who had that requirement I'd have at least one of those tucked away, maybe two. They always have hot water for tea.

In fact...maybe I should bring that on my next non-VX transcon. If I'm not special needs would they give me enough hot water for instant noodles?
Well, I would not want to be near a kid close to meltdown when she has a cup of hot noodles. Those things also have terrible nutritional values. I can totally understand why the mother did not do this.

Originally Posted by sna430 View Post
From this situation, I believe there should be more public awareness about autism. Researcher say that 1 out of 88 children have some sort of ASD. Hopefully one day a cure can be found!
I would hope the mother's real purpose is to raise awareness. It is not easy to have any child nowadays and a lot harder with special need children.

Last edited by username; May 11, 15 at 5:13 am
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Old May 11, 15, 5:22 am
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Crew and pilot made the correct decision, especially after the mother made demands and threats. I have no tolerance for passengers that feel their situation entitles them to whatever they want.

Every passenger is in the same situation on that plane. You buy the class ticket you want and you travel according to the rules for that fare. Very simple.
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Old May 11, 15, 5:27 am
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I was talking about the diversion with a long time friend who is a Pediatric Psychiatrist and does treat patients with Autism.

He said first and foremost that without ever meeting the patient anything he says is speculation but he did have some thoughts.

My friend's main point was that it was an unfortunate situation that maybe could have been handled better by both sides, but neither side is really at fault and a law suit DOES NOT accomplish anything.

He said that Autism patients can have challenging diets based not necessarily on taste but on routine and the act of seeing food around her could have caused her to want to eat something (even if she is not hungry as routine plays a huge part) and if she needs it to be hot, no amount of cold food (even food that is supposed to be served cold) would fill in as a replacement for food that is heated.

What we do not know and none of the articles state is if the Mother asked about heating of food she brought on-board with her, all we know is that she asked for a First Class meal, that could be out of desperation as she was ill prepared and did not have food to heat on-board or just as easily could have been because the FA said the only food we can heat are First Class meals. We just do not know. As an anecdote, I am not a fan of cold food though I can eat it and would not cause a stir if that was all that was available to me, but a while back (circa 2014) I was flying United and the meal options in First Class were a cold (and by that I mean cold soggy bread) sandwich or a salad with cold protein. I asked the FA if she could heat up the sanwhich to take off some of the chill and hopefully repair the bread (even a little) and she flatly refused saying that it was against United policy to heat food that United did not intend to be served heated, which I took to mean I am too lazy to bother with any special requests and that was in PAID First Class.

With regards to the diversion my friend felt it was actually compassionate to divert, but calling the Police was a little much, just allowing the PAX to deplane would have been enough, maybe have EMTs available to take the patient to a hospital if need be for further treatment, but Police really in my friend's learned estimation did not really serve any sort of purpose. He said United was right to divert, but it should been a Medical Diversion as opposed to a Security Diversion, taking it in the Security direction was inappropriate in his opinion, but not materially wrong, the diversion was still the compassionate thing to due considering the costs to United which they took for the diversion and having to pay to put the patient and her family on another airline for the remainder of their journey.

Bottom line neither party is wrong and both parties did not handle it right either, the only clear thing is that a law suit is not called for and hopefully the patient's family will come to understand that and drop the suit, opting to work with UA to improve understanding of Autism and make the Airline better for everyone.
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