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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)

Exec_Plat May 9, 15 7:17 pm

UA Pilot Diverts to Remove Autistic Child From Plane for Safety Reasons
 
Post title changed ... no longer reflects my comments. You are welcome to find it below.

:)

MatthewLAX May 9, 15 7:21 pm


Juliette Forbes refused the food that her family had brought along, and the United Airlines economy passenger was eventually given hot food from first class after her mother argued that it was necessary to prevent a meltdown.
Difficult issue, but I would not be so quick to slam UA...

LAXOGG May 9, 15 7:26 pm


Originally Posted by MatthewLAX (Post 24791941)
Difficult issue, but I would not be so quick to slam UA...

Agree. I have a close person friend with a severely autistic child and they will not fly with their child (or let their child fly under any circumstance) because of the the risk to other passengers and to the flight safety.

NJFlyer42 May 9, 15 7:38 pm

Pilot
 
My reading is that the mother asked for food since the food she brought was inadequate to prevent a problem (scratching).

What is the next demand? More food? What if the plane doesn't have the right food? Or pillow? Or blanket?

As a passenger I have develped the impression it takes 30 minutes to land a plane. Can the passengers and FA handle a crisis for 30 minutes without issues? Would the girl have to be forcibly restrained? How would that look on the news?

What about the poor schlub who just wants to go home in peace next to her?

I think the pilot made the right decision. The mother gave the impression that this could turn ugly and the pilot knew the plane was not ready. Heck...even 1k's in first don't get the food they want.

Miles Ahead May 9, 15 7:39 pm

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.
I think this makes the issue less black and white. A F/A might well have interpreted this as "give me a first class meal or my daughter might attack another passenger", which after an hour of "howling" might have caused the FA on the spot to draw very different conclusions than people reading about it after the fact.

trk1 May 9, 15 8:19 pm

Respect
 
It is time to respect the professional decision making of this crew. Their job is safety of everyone on board. Parents should not be allowing this child to waste the safety and time and $$ of the passengers and the airline. LETS respect general population.

CodeAdam10 May 9, 15 8:31 pm

I can't believe I'm saying this but I think UA was right on this one.

jewels421 May 9, 15 8:42 pm

Huh... the howling detail is new. Other articles I read didn't have that information. I had been under the impression that she was not being a disturbance, so it was a little puzzling as to why the pilot would have made that call just based on the mom asking to buy food from first class. But, even with the howling.... I mean, babies and toddlers cry all the time on planes so unless she was being physically disruptive, it still seems like a weird call to me. But, tough to know without being there (it does seem like the other passengers didn't really think there was a problem, though).

hookthem May 9, 15 8:47 pm

This article seems very biased and doesn't mention what happened before the passenger had her hot food. I have observed issues that warrant diverting that did not get addressed (i.e. a man going nutso on a IAH-DEN flight thinking the plane is going down... the FA's gave him O2 but that only made the matter much worse). This diversion doesn't seem unreasonable to me, though I know I don't have full story.

mduell May 9, 15 8:54 pm

Threatening a meltdown if she doesn't get some arbitrary treatment?

I think a bit of cooling off, on the ground, is a reasonable decision. The alternative might involve a lot of duck tape, like we see on the transoceanic meltdowns.

Plane-is-home May 9, 15 9:15 pm

UA did the right thing.
The family is now just hoping for a pay day.

Doc Savage May 9, 15 9:27 pm

I have to side with the pilot here. There are reports of the kid "howling" and then the mother warning about "a meltdown" and "scratching."

I have empathy for the parents who have to deal with a kid with these disabilities, but get a little tired of them screaming about discrimination in situations like thus.

bocastephen May 10, 15 12:26 am

I'm siding with UA on this one too....the parent should have known their child is unsuitable for air travel, and either way, prepared something appropriate to keep them calm, or arranged for some sort of sedative before the trip.

While I am sympathetic to the child's condition, the family should have been better prepared. If the daughter scratched me, the mother would be going to court for sure, just not the way she might expect.

username May 10, 15 12:46 am

There is definitely no black and white answer on this one...

If I were the pilot, I would not want to have someone onboard who has any "meltdown point" that could endanger the the person, crew and other passengers. I guess "meltdown point" is sort of a technical term for autism. It might be manageable for those who know it but it is scary for others.

If the flight had continued and something happened, then there is another set of problems for UA and the pilot.

I can also see the parents' of disable children don't want their children to be treated less and have some principles to protect/points to make.

Not easy...

duchy May 10, 15 1:01 am

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.

kettle1 May 10, 15 2:03 am

I am with UA 100% on this. The mother is at fault. I am sure the mother will lawyer up - put me on the jury and UA wins this one. The mother should have provided the necessary snack/diversions to keep the autistic child occupied.

sincx May 10, 15 3:37 am

I hope UA wins and countersues the mother for costs and fees.

halls120 May 10, 15 4:54 am


Originally Posted by bocastephen (Post 24792617)
I'm siding with UA on this one too....the parent should have known their child is unsuitable for air travel, and either way, prepared something appropriate to keep them calm, or arranged for some sort of sedative before the trip.

While I am sympathetic to the child's condition, the family should have been better prepared. If the daughter scratched me, the mother would be going to court for sure, just not the way she might expect.

+1. Crew did the right thing.

miasmal May 10, 15 4:55 am

PIC
 
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."

Often1 May 10, 15 6:44 am

Sounds like one of these unfortunate situations made more unfortunate by money-grubbers who think that they can grab some cash from a big company built on their child's condition.

I want crew making the correct decision for my safety wthhout worrying that not only will some local-yokel "news" report it, but that they will be backed up by their employer.

The child's needs are 100% the parents responsibility and if they brought the wrong food, that is on them.

Good for the Captain. Hope UA backs him up.

bmwe92fan May 10, 15 7:32 am


Originally Posted by Often1 (Post 24793319)
Sounds like one of these unfortunate situations made more unfortunate by money-grubbers who think that they can grab some cash from a big company built on their child's condition.

I want crew making the correct decision for my safety wthhout worrying that not only will some local-yokel "news" report it, but that they will be backed up by their employer.

The child's needs are 100% the parents responsibility and if they brought the wrong food, that is on them.

Good for the Captain. Hope UA backs him up.

+1000 - and would appreciate the title of this thread being edited to reflect a more neutral and realistic portrayal of the events....

Loren Pechtel May 10, 15 7:40 am


Originally Posted by NJFlyer42 (Post 24791986)
My reading is that the mother asked for food since the food she brought was inadequate to prevent a problem (scratching).

What is the next demand? More food? What if the plane doesn't have the right food? Or pillow? Or blanket?

As a passenger I have develped the impression it takes 30 minutes to land a plane. Can the passengers and FA handle a crisis for 30 minutes without issues? Would the girl have to be forcibly restrained? How would that look on the news?

What about the poor schlub who just wants to go home in peace next to her?

I think the pilot made the right decision. The mother gave the impression that this could turn ugly and the pilot knew the plane was not ready. Heck...even 1k's in first don't get the food they want.

Yeah--the mother indicated that things could turn violent. That kid doesn't belong on a plane, period. The diversion was appropriate for passenger safety.

kirkwoodj May 10, 15 7:51 am

Another posting from a British tabloid, and they are all seemingly following a trip to Disney World. No credibility to this story.

Tchiowa May 10, 15 8:02 am

Kind of surprised. I was expecting to see a vociferous debate filled with "Why I am leaving UA" comments. Instead, a whole lot of thoughtful comments. What have you done with FT?

(I agree with the other posters. I back UA's decision. Some passenger comments say that the child was settled down by the time the made the emergency landing. But once the pilot makes the decision to divert it's too late.)

cruisr May 10, 15 8:29 am

Yes, UA was correct on this one. Seems like the mother is looking for $$$$. If I were sitting by this child and was advised the child may start scratching I would want the child removed.

MatthewLAX May 10, 15 8:52 am

This is like the lady from NJ who demanded her disabled child be allowed in first class with her and her husband. Media came out for her but public quickly saw through her story and backed UA.

p924s87 May 10, 15 8:56 am

Completely agree with UA. Crew made the right decision to get the plane on the ground and avoid the "meltdown point". I feel for the family but unless they can make it safe for their child and fellow passengers to fly, they shouldn't fly. Last I checked Amtrak was still in service and they have a dining car...

physioprof May 10, 15 9:16 am


Originally Posted by MatthewLAX (Post 24793745)
This is like the lady from NJ who demanded her disabled child be allowed in first class with her and her husband. Media came out for her but public quickly saw through her story and backed UA.

Do you have a link to this story? Couldn't find it searching Google news.

Miles Ahead May 10, 15 9:34 am

To add to the puzzlement, UA1535 MCO-IAH arrived at 1:02PM on May 5th. UA285, the flight that was diverted, departed at 6:21, but probably boarded at 5:00. So there were four hours in Houston - plenty of time to find the child a hot meal. Why wait until confined in a tiny metal tube with no options?

cruisr May 10, 15 9:41 am


Originally Posted by Miles Ahead (Post 24793880)
To add to the puzzlement, UA1535 MCO-IAH arrived at 1:02PM on May 5th. UA285, the flight that was diverted, departed at 6:21, but probably boarded at 5:00. So there were four hours in Houston - plenty of time to find the child a hot meal. Why wait until confined in a tiny metal tube with no options?

Because the Mom thinks she is entitled, of course. I really hope UA does not settle and brings the Mom to court. Send a message.

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.


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