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-   United Airlines | MileagePlus (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/united-airlines-mileageplus-681/)
-   -   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)

miasmal May 11, 15 9:22 am

No comments from DL as to how their flight went?

channa May 11, 15 9:23 am


Originally Posted by MSPeconomist (Post 24797714)
I don't think it was the right decision for UA to rebook the family onto a DL flight. What if the meltdown and scratching occurred on the DL flight? Don't DL passengers have a right to fly safely? Plus, it's not pleasant for passengers on the next flight to be subjected to a fifteen year old child who howls during the flight.


What's wrong with acknowledging you can't handle something and sending the business to another provider who may be able to do a better job.

I have very strong respect for companies that do this. Don't bite off more than you can chew...

JakiChan May 11, 15 9:24 am


Originally Posted by username (Post 24797284)
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.

No. The news article that I read said that all the mother said her kid needed was some hot food. Noodles are hot food. If the kid is that picky then she clearly couldn't fly. And when the kid finally got hot food she was fine - that's the crux of the complaint. We're talking about airline food here - clearly nutrition was never a factor.


Originally Posted by username (Post 24797284)
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.

If it was, then I condemn her horrible judgement. Wrong place, wrong time.

rufflesinc May 11, 15 9:25 am


Originally Posted by dsquared37 (Post 24798004)
The quote posted above doesn't mention who would be scratched. Is it not possible the girl in question has a history of self inflicted wounds?

Thats how I read the quote.

Neil35 May 11, 15 9:29 am


Originally Posted by reamworks (Post 24797358)
It boils down to the threat. It has nothing to do with them appropriating a meal they didn't pay for.

The mother said the daughter would start scratching other passengers if she didn't get her way. (Source: http://www.katu.com/news/local/Autis...303146891.html)
And that was when I just kind of said, ‘You know what? Maybe after she has a meltdown and she's crying and trying to scratch, then you'll help us,’” Beegle said.
Passengers were threatened. United did the right thing, 100%. The mother who made that threat should be on the "Do Not Fly List".

And anyone who thinks United did the wrong thing should be on the Do Not Fly list, too! :p


Originally Posted by OccasionalFlyerPerson (Post 24797704)
Where does it say that the threat of violence was to passengers? It could easily be the flight crew who were the target of the threat of violence.

The mother changed her wording between interviews. The earlier version (see below) can't be that helpful to her case.

By the way, I don't think threatening to scratch the flight crew is any more acceptable than threatening to scratch other passengers.


Originally Posted by Miles Ahead (Post 24791988)
Two other links:

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

http://www.kptv.com/story/29020437/t...ane-mid-flight


She told KOIN 6 News she explained that if her daughter didn’t get a hot meal, she would “get to the meltdown point” and maybe scratch someone. Juliette soon got a first-class meal.

Emphasis is mine.

saneman May 11, 15 9:36 am

how tough is to restrain that girl if she did end up overreacting? I wonder if a sleeping pill is more prudent for such cases. (don't know what the medical ethics are for such a case).

And from what I read in one of the accounts, the mother did offer to pay for the meal.

While the burden of this situation lies more on the parents, it seems based on another flyer's account, except for one drama queen passenger a few rows ahead, most of the passengers around that autistic kid didn't seem bothered for their safety. And if you placed the girl between the parents, how would she even be able to scratch another person outside the family?

Here is another passenger (not just the other flyertalker and the guy who filmed it):

Another traveler, Jodi Smith, who was sitting three rows behind Juliette, said she heard the entire conversation with the first-class flight attendant.

"He was being totally ridiculous," Smith said.

"Then the medics came on, then the police ... They went right straight to Dr. Beegle. You could hear them saying their daughter was perceived as a threat," Smith told ABC News. "I stood up and said, 'Absolutely positively not.'

"This was just ridiculous... she was calm, she had done nothing," she said. "I've been on flights where kids have screamed for 4 hours and they've never diverted a flight.
Seems like the FAs again using terrorism as an excuse to get paranoid about safety threats and inconveniencing passengers who didn't seem bothered by this. While some people don't mind seeing their precious time wasted in the name of a trivial security risk, I do.

JVPhoto May 11, 15 9:45 am

She didn't have an episode/fit/outlash (not sure what the right term to use is) so of course no one was bothered by her sitting there. But when she stands up and digs her nails into the person in the row in front's face?

What if she had the e/f/o 5 min later? How much time was left on the flight? Would a screaming (near) adult who is being forcibly restrained by her parents for 2-3 hours something the plane needs to go through?

mrboom May 11, 15 9:46 am


Originally Posted by saneman (Post 24798224)
how tough is to restrain that girl if she did end up overreacting? I wonder if a sleeping pill is more prudent for such cases. (don't know what the medical ethics are for such a case).

[/B]
While the burden of this situation lies more on the parents, it seems based on another flyer's account, except for one drama queen passenger a few rows ahead, most of the passengers around that autistic kid didn't seem bothered for their safety. And if you placed the girl between the parents, how would she even be able to scratch another person outside the family?

You are correct, ALL the burden lies on the parents to determine if their child can travel by air safely. It is not the airlines burden to accomodate the mother's demands or threats.

Odds are that most of the other passengers around them have very little knowledge of flying rules and regulations and will sympathize with the family because they are ignorant of the seriousness when a passenger that becomes unmangeable during a flight.

It is very selfish of the family to subject all the other passengers to this type of trouble when they know the risks of traveling with the daughter.

Loren Pechtel May 11, 15 9:56 am


Originally Posted by MKEflyer95 (Post 24795558)
I have a very high-functioned form of autism as well and looking at this, I thought this is just wrong of United to do. I've always liked flying and I know what to expect. But she probably isn't into aviation as me so she doesn't know that she's not supposed to cause a distruption on the plane. There was nothing her parents could really do to stop her from crying about getting no hot food. If this was on Delta or American, they'd probably take this situation more maturely without having to divert the plane. If she was flying alone they'd probably give her a first-class meal. When I was 9 and I flew alone, I got put in first class. Originally I had an economy seat but that flight turned out to be the best I've been on. If her parents would've informed United that she was autistic BEFORE the flight, then maybe she'd get to fly first class and get a first class meal and no distruptions.

The issue is not her creating a scene. The issue is the threat of violence. I would support UA in saying she is not allowed to fly again.

Cargojon May 11, 15 10:02 am

Parent of autistic child here:

UA was wrong to divert the flight. It was apparent that the child had calmed down, was not bothering anyone, and the crew was obviously not trained to handle someone with this kind of disability. I don't blame them personally, but more suitable training would have gone a long way.

Mom was 100% wrong to throw out the "scratching" bit. Once you cross that line, in the minds of FA, crew, etc it incorrectly gets pigeon-holed into the "this pax is a threat" mindset. It's the same reason that you never argue with a FA, TSA, etc no matter how wrong they are because you're invariably going to get the "do you want to fly today?" line. My 5 year old daughter still cannot drink well from an open cup - juice boxes are a requirement. TSA is hit and miss on getting them through security, but I always bring at least one extra for the TSA to open up and smell/examine/make me drink, etc. If I ever got a super-uptight TSA agent that simply refused them through in their entirety, it would be a problem. Thankfully, it never has. Could it? Sure. Is that reason for us to never fly? No.

I've flown with my daughter multiple times and she's never had a problem. However, despite the best planning, sometimes things happen and it's not the parents fault. I wouldn't expect anyone who doesn't parent an autistic child to understand this so I won't take personally several of the ignorant comments I've read on this thread...because I don't think it comes from a place of malice, merely ignorance.

channa May 11, 15 10:02 am


Originally Posted by saneman (Post 24798224)
Seems like the FAs again using terrorism as an excuse to get paranoid about safety threats and inconveniencing passengers who didn't seem bothered by this. While some people don't mind seeing their precious time wasted in the name of a trivial security risk, I do.


I don't think that's the case here.

Look at it from the FA's perspective, particularly given the dysfunctional fear culture we have post-merger.

1. Serving the hot F meal as requested to calm the situation may result in disciplinary action.

2. Alerting the captain to the issue and having him make a call to divert the plane results in a large expense, a PR disaster, and 150 annoyed customers.

#1 is the "right thing to do" to go above and beyond, but that's frowned upon by the company. #2 is the safer thing to do from a liability perspective, and also the crew's perspective.

I think the crew acted completely as the company wants them to.


The crew needs do the right thing in a circumstance that arises, and when they make a call at 36,000 feet.

docbert May 11, 15 10:07 am


Originally Posted by kmersh (Post 24797316)
... 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.

I suspect in this case the FA was trying to avoid a diversion! Putting food into the ovens that isn't specifically intended to be put in them leads to the potential for burning the item - and once there's smoke, there's almost certainly a divert on the cards. I don't know a specific policy on this one, but I wouldn't at all be surprised if it's completely not allowed to do so.



Originally Posted by kmersh (Post 24797316)
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

They really don't have a choice. The moment you're removing someone from a packed plane against their will there is always the risk of non-compliance, and especially when there has already been a threat of violence (regardless of it's actual form) then not having police involved would be asking for a further lawsuit if something went wrong as they were removed from the flight


Originally Posted by MSPeconomist (Post 24797714)
I don't think it was the right decision for UA to rebook the family onto a DL flight. What if the meltdown and scratching occurred on the DL flight?

UA do not fly SLC-PDX, so the only options for a direct flight were DL and AS. Presumably the child was fed before this flight, so the chances of a "meltdown" were significantly lower...

mrboom May 11, 15 10:18 am

The decision to remove the family from the plane was done in the best interest of the safety for everyone. The safety card trumps all others. Period.

The mother should have.... the FA could have ....

I do not care about the should have, could have, would have and neither do most other travelers. We care about safely arriving at our destinations.

The family is extremely selfish to think that their daughter and her issues trump all other policies, including safety.

sweeper20 May 11, 15 10:30 am


Originally Posted by Cargojon (Post 24798365)
Parent of autistic child here:

UA was wrong to divert the flight. It was apparent that the child had calmed down, was not bothering anyone, and the crew was obviously not trained to handle someone with this kind of disability. I don't blame them personally, but more suitable training would have gone a long way.

The child was ok again in that moment. Earlier there was a threat of violence. Who is to say that in 10 mins the situation might have changed yet again? So they start a diversion a second time? Oh, then it gets better again... so they continue on..oh wait, another episode! Sorry but once the mother brought up the idea that scratching could occur, its game over.

artvandalay May 11, 15 10:32 am


Originally Posted by mrboom (Post 24798458)
The decision to remove the family from the plane was done in the best interest of the safety for everyone. The safety card trumps all others. Period.

The mother should have.... the FA could have ....

I do not care about the should have, could have, would have and neither do most other travelers. We care about safely arriving at our destinations.

The family is extremely selfish to think that their daughter and her issues trump all other policies, including safety.

^^^^


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