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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 9, 15, 7:17 pm
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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.

Last edited by Exec_Plat; May 10, 15 at 9:50 pm
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Old May 9, 15, 7:21 pm
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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...
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Old May 9, 15, 7:26 pm
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Originally Posted by MatthewLAX View Post
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.
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Old May 9, 15, 7:38 pm
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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.
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Old May 9, 15, 7:39 pm
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Two other links:



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.
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Old May 9, 15, 8:19 pm
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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.
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Old May 9, 15, 8:31 pm
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I can't believe I'm saying this but I think UA was right on this one.
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Old May 9, 15, 8:42 pm
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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).
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Old May 9, 15, 8:47 pm
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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.
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Old May 9, 15, 8:54 pm
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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.
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Old May 9, 15, 9:15 pm
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UA did the right thing.
The family is now just hoping for a pay day.
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Old May 9, 15, 9:27 pm
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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.
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Old May 10, 15, 12:26 am
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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.
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Old May 10, 15, 12:46 am
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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...
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Old May 10, 15, 1:01 am
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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.

Last edited by duchy; May 10, 15 at 1:08 am
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