American Eagle Kicks Autistic Child And His Mother Off Plane

On Monday, an American Eagle flight which was in the process of taxiing at the Raleigh-Durham Airport in North Carolina turned around to kick 2-and-a-half-year-old Jarett Farell (pictured left) and his mother Janice off of the plane. According to WTVD, the unhappy toddler was crying loudly and after a few warnings, the decision to turn the plane around was made. Janice Farell contends that the crew was very short-tempered and unsympathetic toward her and her son and that everything would have been ok if it weren’t for the flight attendant who kept upsetting Jarett. American Airlines claims they did nothing wrong. Details, inside…

The article says,

As the American Eagle flight headed down the taxiway, two-and-a-half-year-old Jarett Farrell wasn’t a happy traveler.

His mother says she was doing all she could to calm the autistic boy, but got no sympathy from the flight crew.

“If they just would have been a little more understanding I think that none of this would have been a problem,” Mother, Janice Farrell said.

But it became a big problem for everyone on the plane. Farrell says that’s because the flight attendant was indignant.

“She kept coming over and tugging his seatbelt to make it tighter, ‘This has to stay tight’. And then he was wiggling around and trying to get out of his seatbelt. And she kept coming over and reprimanding him and yelling at him,” Farrell said.

One of the pilots came back to the cabin with a stern warning and Farrell says the frustration level escalated.

She says Jarrett picked up on that and things only got worse.

“He just melted down. He saw me getting upset. He was upset. He was on the floor rolling around,” she said.

The pilot returned to the cockpit, turned the plane around and headed back to the terminal.

“The pilot made an announcement that there was a woman and her child on the plane and the child is uncontrollable. And at that point I just broke down,” Farrell said.

Farrell says when she got back to her home in Cary she called her husband and they decided that she should call American Airlines corporate. She says a company representative apologized and said the incident should never have happened.

But that’s not what American Airlines told Eyewitness News.

A spokesman in Dallas says Jarret was pitching a “raging fit”.

And that Janice, who was in a front-row seat, refused to allow her bag to be placed in an overhead compartment, even though there was no under seat stowage.

He says that with a “passenger not complying with FAA regulations, this was the right decision.”

Farrell says even though her travel bag had things to calm Jarrett, she did indeed give it to the flight attendant.

“She took my bag and put it up top,” Farrell said.

Farrell is taking the train to see family in New Jersey and she and her husband say they will never fly American again.

Without having been on the flight, it’s difficult to say who, if anyone, was at fault. If a child is literally out of control, we can understand why this would necessitate the child’s removal from the flight, especially since it was still on the ground. If indeed it was necessary, we just wish it could have happened in a way that didn’t leave Jarett and his mother so upset.

Autistic toddler kicked off airplane [WTVD] (Thanks to everyone who sent this in!)

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  1. vgerik1234 says:

    I have to agree with the airline. They will have a crapton of complaints about the whining little brat. If you have ever flown, a crying kid makes a 4 hours flight, FOREVER… The poopdoll never shuts up..

  2. ssaoi says:

    This sucks, but what was American Airlines supposed to do?

  3. DrGirlfriend says:

    You kids settle down or I’m turning this airplane around! I mean it! You think I don’t mean it? Here. We’re going back home. Happy now?

  4. Pithlit says:

    I have an autistic child, and so I’m sure I’m automatically biased. It is hard to say what happened without having been there. She says the flight attendant kept coming over and tightening his seat belt. That right there would be enough to send an autistic child into a rage. And I really don’t see how that was necessary. I think she could have asked the parent to do that instead. That makes me wonder if the flight attendant was indeed being unreasonable. Whether the airline was in the right or not, I feel for the parent.

  5. luz says:

    I feel for the mom, and the kid, but you know what? There are few experiences more aggravating than being stuck on a plane with an implacably screaming child.

    If the flight attendant really was hounding the child about the seatbelt, that’s messed up, but I can’t imagine that happening. I flew constantly as a kid and often my seatbelt was quite loose, and no attendant ever paid any mind.

  6. googleguru says:

    @DrGirlfriend: That’s hilarious!

  7. CharlieInSeattle says:

    Umm morons, poking a an autistic kid is just asking for a melt down. They should have left it up to the parent to calm her down, and let her have what she needed. FU American Airlines.

  8. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    I just hope that the attendant gave the mother sufficiant time (without comming and hastling them) to get child under control. Autistic children are a handful and my sympathies are with the mother.

  9. ianmac47 says:

    Sounds like they violated his civil liberties. Lawsuit in 3…2…

  10. kityglitr says:

    @vgerik1234: “whining little brat”? “poopdoll”? Dude, I don’t even _LIKE_ kids and I know better than to say shit like that about someone’s child. A child who is AUTISTIC. Look it up. Seriously, it’s not at all cool to be a mean person for absolutely no reason. I hate it when a kid is crying near me in restaurants and public transit, too. But this kid isn’t a brat and isn’t doing it for spite. Just a touch of respect, dude. Try it sometime.

  11. philipbarrett says:

    @vgerik1234:

    Autistic child = whining little brat? vgerik1234 I’d rather sit next to a toddler all the way to SE Asia than next to you for 10 minutes. Eventually the child will stop crying but you’ll always be a…

  12. NightSteel says:

    we just wish it could have happened in a way that didn’t leave Jarett and his mother so upset.

    I don’t see that there would be a way. The airline employees could have been nicer about it, but I’d be willing to bet that they would have been upset no matter how the employees came across.

    “I’m really sorry, but your son is just too disruptive. I know he has a medical condition, but he has to be able to follow our directions, regardless of his condition. We have to take you back to the gate. The gate agent can help you with rebooking your flight.”

    “But.. but.. my snowflake! My flight! I paid good money for these tickets!”

    You get the idea. Parents (to say nothing of people in general) have big enough entitlement complexes as it is, and parents with ‘special needs’ children are the worst of the bunch. (Present company excepted, of course.)

  13. shor0814 says:

    I smell ADA lawsuit if the FA did harass the child. We should know by now that we let the parent deal with an autistic child, and if he/she can’t calm the child down, then there is a reason to turn the plane around.

  14. Xewleer says:

    Brother is autistic. Unless they HAVE to go by plane, it just messes the young Autistic Children up terribly. THEY CAN”T COPE! The air-popping in the ears even freaks me out.

    I think the blame is spread around. The mother for not being able to realize that her son just cannot cope. Parents (and siblings) that have autisic kids essentially have to lead a sedentary life style until the child can at least semi-function in the world. No easy task.

    Fortunately, my brother can control himself, and is ‘lightly’ autistic almost at the level of asbergers (hard to tell…) But other kids have no point of reference, autistic kids, that is.

    The Air line is at fault for not understanding his problem. They should not have made him upset, or his mother upset. Seriously, it was really badly handled.

  15. thatgirlinnewyork says:

    raleigh-durham to nj is hardly a four-hour flight. and most people know better than to reprimand an autistic child, let alone physically aggravate them as this attendant did. i’d reserve judgment until some eyewitnesses come forward, as one persons “hysterical fit” is another’s “crying”.

  16. bwcbwc says:

    Failure to provide accommodation under the Americans with disabilities act, anyone?

    And if American Eagle has a flight lasting (or at least scheduled to last) more than 90 minutes anywhere in its route system, I’ll be surprised. They’re the commuter airline that feeds into AA hubs like Raleigh.

  17. cmcd14 says:

    I’m sorry but any parent traveling with a toddler should just pop em some Dramamine, extra-drowsy. Not that I’m for drugging the buggers, but it’ll help matters.

  18. sean77 says:

    2 and a half year old diagnosed with autism? The research says that before the age of 3, autism screening is only 35% reliable.

  19. Garbanzo says:

    The mother says in as many words, “He was on the floor rolling around.” I can’t imagine any commercial airplane in the U.S. being willing to take off in that situation.

  20. Invalid_User_Name says:

    @bwcbwc:

    Um….it’s not “failure to provide accommodation,” it’s “must provide reasonable accommodation.”

    There are no winners in this one. Sorry to hear it.

  21. kepler11 says:

    sorry, amateur lawyers. The ADA does not apply to airlines.

    Whether the child was autistic or not, the parent had probably 30 minutes already onboard, to try to make him ready for the flight. And the kid was still not staying seated, which is a safety issue. Exactly how much longer were they supposed to give her to try? And what if it hadn’t worked?

    The only responsible thing, on behalf of the other passengers and crew who needed to get their scheduled flight in the air, was to offload them. (given the information that we’ve been provided.)

  22. AgentTuttle says:

    Hmm,… I don’t know who the jerk is in this story but being on that plane was a lose / lose. Either you’re on with the kid or your flight is late to drop him off. Given the choice, I’d be glad he was gone. Sorry, but torture is torture even if they made it worse.

  23. lalaland13 says:

    This sort of reminds me of that Catholic church in Minnesota that banned an autistic kid-I think about 12 or 13-from services, even served the mom with a restraining order and arrested her, because he was apparently touching people inappropriately and grabbing them and peeing in church. The mom lost me, though, when she said she didn’t think God would want her son to view the service from the church basement TV, and that God said you had to be in church every Sunday or it was a sin. And also, she didn’t want to put him on meds.

    But this is way way different. I feel for the mom more than the airline at this point, although I’d also feel for passengers who would have had to ride with a screaming kid. Tough call all around. Maybe the FA was used to people heeding her every instruction because otherwise they’d be put on the terror watch list? And she didn’t get that the kid was autistic or what the hell that meant.

  24. HAL1300 says:

    As autism is a disability defined under the ADA (as it is mental condition), they have violated federal laws by denying services based on disability of a person — age does not matter to the ADA. They may play they “FAA regulations” card by saying the mother didn’t put the bag away and then it is a she said they said and then the witnesses side of it.

    To take this to a different example, lets say a blind person has a guide dog and a airline attendant keeps bothering the dog and the dog keeps moving around. (note most guide dogs that are trained wont care) That attendant would likely say that the dog is uncontrollable and they would be thrown off the plane. Guess what, if the person can prove that that isn’t the case and the attendant kept bothering the dog, then the blind person would have a ADA suit on their hands and previous suits have proven to be winners.

    If you are a business and you refuse to provide your business to a person under the ADA protection because of that disability, you are open to a suit.

    So, if the mother doesn’t get an apology from them, I would recommend she seek out a ADA lawyer and force it.

    (Note to flamers: the ADA is to protect those in business that “think” people with disabilities are second, or even third class citizens and don’t require the same level of respect)

  25. Was he merely crying or screaming? Or was he out of his seat? The former is a mere nuisance. The latter is grounds for ejection.

  26. kepler11 says:

    @HAL1300:
    what part of “the ADA does not apply to airline passengers” didn’t you understand?

  27. Benny Gesserit says:

    Tough call indeed but if there was no way to guarantee he’d at least stay in his seat during take-off / landing then, well, he had to go.

    I witnessed a flight-attendant (back when they were still called ‘stews’) who lost his balancing trying to close a storage door during takeoff. Fell, cut his head mightily, blood oh mother blood.

    Of course, they could have EXPLAINED that to the mother instead of just pissing her off and kicking them out.

  28. sleze69 says:

    If you can’t control your kids, DON’T FLY! It doesn’t matter WHY they are disruptive. Autistic kids, having difficulties with communication in general have enough problems with strange people. Putting them into a situation where they are trapped with a bunch of other strangers with no place to escape is a formula for disaster.

    As a person who flies for a living, I must be as biased as the people who have autistic kids. I personally hate to fly, so I drive whenever I can (5 hours to Virginia is almost as fast as getting to the airport on time and flying). NC to NJ is an 8 hour drive. Let the parent suffer the child and not the rest of the world.

  29. MadameX says:

    I feel for the mother and child as well, but I’d like to hear what some of the witnesses/other passengers have to say in the matter.

    Autistic or not, I wouldn’t want to be on a flight with a child screaming the entire flight. I’ve been on flights with crying babies before and its maddening. Its not like you can get off the plane if you don’t like it.

    I don’t like American Airlines, but if I were a passenger I would probably have applauded their removing them from the flight.

  30. r081984 says:

    I agree with the airline. If you bring very young child on board who cannot stay quite then you deserve to get kicked off the plane.

    What were they thinking???
    They say they have an autistic kid and imply he is hard to control, but everyone on that plane was just supposed to sympathize and deal with it for several hours?

    That kids parents should be ashamed of themselves.

  31. jdmba says:

    I applaud the airline for turning around. This is the most “customer satisfaction” I bet American Airlines has done in years. Inconvenience two people or everyone else.

    If an airline wants to increase revenues, they should schedule child free flights and charge a premium for them. It would be a boon to their bottom line. Just like Metroliner for Amtrak, and the Bridge for movie theatres; people are more than happy to pay for ways away from people’s children.

  32. forgottenpassword says:

    A screaming child on a plane can make an already miserable flight even MORE hellish. Make it an autistic kid & I’d want to open the emergency door mid-flight & jump out!

    Sorry, to seem heartless, but come on!

    I await the flames from people who have never had any experiences with autistic children.

  33. viqas says:

    I think it was handled poorly, theres a difference between a child crying and a child unbuckling the seat belt, and running down the aisle or kicking someones seat.

    I would get annoyed by a child crying, but i would get pissed if the child was being a true ass. I feel bad for the parent and the kid, being slowly developed in the head is never fun.

    On the plus side amtrak has a train that goes to new york that stops in cary that is cheap as shit. Amtrak rocks, just keep the kid busy with a lot of colouring books!

  34. The_IT_Crone says:

    Absolute support for the airline here.

    Also the summary “the unhappy toddler was crying loudly and after a few warnings the decision to turn the plane around was made” does not equal what actually happened. Refusing to stow baggage, a screaming child who refuses to be in a seat, parents who expect special treatment… no. Get off the plane, rent a car, and grow up.

    /works in public school with autistic children. Some parents actually accept the challenge, others thing that everyone ELSE must accept the challenge. Guess which kids actually adapt and improve?

  35. bdgbill says:

    Finally, some good news about the airlines! I don’t care what the kids condition is, no one person has the right to make 200 other people miserable for 4 hours.

    If I was on that flight I would have been aplauding the flight crew.

    Dear Struggling Airlines: I will pay $25.00 to $50.00 extra to be on an “18 and over” flight

  36. Pithlit says:

    @r081984: There are either far fewer people like you in RL, or people like you seem to have the good sense to keep views like that to yourself in RL. So, parents like me seem not to know our place in society, so we unfortunately inflict ourselves on you. Oh well, I say. Earplugs are cheap, and they fit in your pocket.

  37. blb says:

    this is why all children under 11 should be checked as luggage and not allowed on the plane

  38. weakdome says:

    Stop it right now or I’ll turn this plane around, I swear!

  39. macinjosh says:

    @cmcd14:

    Not that I’m for drugging the buggers, but it’ll help matters.

    Yes you are. Don’t you recall writing this?…

    I’m sorry but any parent traveling with a toddler should just pop em some Dramamine, extra-drowsy.

  40. marsneedsrabbits says:

    First: then he was wiggling around and trying to get out of his seatbelt. And she kept coming over and reprimanding him and yelling at him,”

    and then, after the pilot came and talked to the mother: “He just melted down. He saw me getting upset. He was upset. He was on the floor rolling around,” she said

    A child who isn’t in their seat after they are told to be, isn’t in control, and is screaming shouldn’t be on an airplane.

    It is not the job of the pilot, the flight attendants, or the passengers to put up with a screaming child or one who delays the entire flight because he isn’t in control or can’t be buckled properly into his seat.

  41. Pithlit says:

    @The_IT_Crone: In what capacity do you work with those children? I find it interesting that you jumped to conclusions and automatically sided with the airlines. Even I didn’t do that. I conceded that we can’t know what happened. You sound rather judgmental about the parents of the kids you work with.

  42. mdoneil says:

    If the parent can’t hold it together and starts crying perhaps she should have had another adult with her to help her.

    Not that I don’t feel sympathy for a stressed parent, and I do have to note that autism spectrum disorders signs can be noted by 18 months

    It seems to note a lack of preparation for this trip. An uneventful trip with an autistic child on an airline is possible, but in this case the preparations were not adequate to insure that the child would remain in his seat for the time needed to taxi and take off.

    The parents should discuss the trip with their pediatrician or neurologist and discuss the possibility of the use of a sedating pre-flight oral medication if indicated.

  43. irid3sc3nt says:

    “He was on the floor rolling around”= out of seat, can’t be controlled. All passengers must be buckled in and have their seats in the upright position. “And at that point I just broke down”… did she start to cry or start to yell?
    Anyways, autistic or not, the child was violating safety rules. After taxiing on the tarmac (which takes FOREVER) I think the staff gave her a reasonable amount of time to try and calm him down. I wouldn’t want to be on a flight with a screaming child, anyway.

    In fact, I was on Amtrak and this family brought their 3 y.o. and a baby. It cried from 11p until 12a when I finally shouted SHHHHH!!!! from my seat. I was listening to music on over-the-ear headphones and I could still hear the baby crying. Shortly thereafter, the attendant came and asked them to move to the lounge car. Yay!

  44. Julia789 says:

    Perhaps the child’s car booster seat should have been brought along. Many models are airline approved. The harness system, rather than a lap belt, would have helped him remain in place. And perhaps the familiar car seat, with his toys attached, would have helped him feel more secure than a strange airplane seat.

    The mother might also discuss her future travel arrangements with her special needs pediatrician or the psychiatrists and therapists treating her son. Perhaps they could prescribe a mild sedative to be used only before a flight?

    It would seem that any risks of a carefully prescribed sedative might be outweighed by the benefits of the child not flying out of his plane seat and whacking his head on the ceiling during turbulence.

    Or next time buy Grandma a ticket to come visit them, instead of flying with the child.

  45. BillsBurg says:

    I do feel for the mother, since the kid is 2.5 yrs old, he was probably recently diagnosed with Autism, we have a 6 year old and it was only last year we got an official diagnosis, though we knew all along. If he was recently diagnosed the mother might not have developed techniques for prepping the kid for this type of travel. In our autistic son, we spend about 5 times a much time in prepping for things like this than the duration of the event.

  46. pine22 says:

    i dont really mind crying/whiny kids as long as the parents are trying to calm them down. if the parents just expect everyone to just deal with it and not do anything, i find that rather frustrating. i think a parent with an autistic/special needs child deserves more latitude in these kinds of situations.

  47. mxjohnson says:

    I recently bit my tongue when some snarky anti-child comments were made in another thread about airlines. My son is 5, he’s a fantastic traveler, and people don’t realize there are quiet kids on the plane because, well, they’re quiet.

    Charge more for childless flights? It might work. Personally, I’d pay good money to avoid the chatty old ladies, the blowhard businessmen, and the drinkers. The most obnoxious person on a flight is rarely the screaming child.

    But I think the pilot was right to turn the plane around. The kid was having a fit, and was so disruptive that the crew couldn’t ensure he and his mother were ready for takeoff.

    It doesn’t matter whether the child is autistic. It’s not a condition that is readily apparent, nor something flight crews are trained to handle. If a flight crew is expected to bend the rules because a mother claims her child is autistic, that’s not a judgment call they should make minutes prior to takeoff.

    I know it’s hard raising an autistic child. It’s also hard raising a child who is in a wheelchair, or requires oxygen, or has some variety of immune deficiency. My son is allergic to peanuts. If his allergy worsens, and he has life threatening anaphylaxis from touching or breathing peanut dust, he won’t be able to fly on airlines that serve peanuts. What a nightmare! But having a child means working through those limitations.

  48. Concerned_Citizen says:

    @shor0814: I am sorry but the ADA isn’t going to overrule FAA regulations. If this kid does not have the capacity to stay calm on the plane, the kid can’t fly. The ADA cannot undermine the safety of other passengers. Imagine if that kid takes his belt off during turbulence and a bump sends him flying down the isle and he crashes into someone else? And him being autistic all but guarantees that the mother will not be able to control the child. Then add to that the huge annoyance of a screaming child for a few hour flight that no one else can escape from. These parents have some nerve trying to pawn the responsibility of looking after their child onto everyone else. I also find it very telling that she admits because her child is autistic she feels like she gets to break the rules and not securely stow her bags. This lady really doesn’t care at all about the safety or rights of the other passengers. I just wish the overhead bins were full by the time the attendant told her to stow her bag so they would have made her check it. Imagine that wonderful scene of entitlement vs the FAA.

  49. BillsBurg says:

    @mdoneil:
    We have taken our 6 year old on a few air travel trips (also have 4 year old twins, they have flown as well), you are right, preparation is the key. We build a social story, pictures of what will be expected on the trip as well as expected by our son. I would have definitely found a picture of the kid in an airplane seat, seat belted in, and printed it out and spent about 2 weeks prior to the trip discussing it with him.

  50. MrMold says:

    Autism is on a continuum. Some kids are fine, they just tune out the world. Others, well…we have policies for them. Rubber room. Constant observation. Low stimulus.

    Sounds like moms is Entitled. We had a woman walk her child around a store for over an hour and then told the customers and staff that they should “just adjust”. If the store manager had been there he would have thrown her out. One non-paying mooch vs. $1500 possible dollars.

    Who is in control here? One assumes that moms was the adult and doing the appropriate actions. Sounds like they smelled settlement money.

  51. ryanv1978 says:

    Get control of your kid lady. Rolling around on the ground, what did you expect them to do?

    he has to wear a seat belt. the same rules apply to everyone. Geez

  52. I’ve never seen or interacted with an autistic child but from what I read, they do poorly in new environments. They get even more upset/uncontrollable when strangers interact with them.

    If the kid was uncontrollable then the airline did the right thing. The flight attendant coming back and strapping the kid in make little sense. The mom should have done that.

  53. shadax says:

    Next news flash: Boeing upgrades all new commercial aircraft, each with added hugbox to GB2.

    But seriously, that’s absolutely NO excuse for a parent. Seriously, if you knew your child vomits every 5 minutes on a plane, would you still fly? Probably not, because you wouldn’t want to put your kid in a position which does not allow you to properly care for him/her. In fact, shame on the parent for bringing their handicapped, unstable kid into such an environment. Closed, can’t go anywhere, can’t MOVE AROUND (hehe, I’m assuming Coach), etc. The parent knows the kid has problems. WTF? I can understand people want to feel sorry for the kid’s/parent’s poor unfortunate situation. I do too (though I’m also skeptical about such a diagnosis at that age). As the same time though, what is the airline supposed to do when they have 200 passengers who are getting annoyed/freaked out on their plane 5 miles high going 600 miles per hour? Doesn’t exactly translate into too many repeat flyers. One of the same reasons movie theaters are suffering – unruly little shits and people talking on cell phones, and a DVD or Netflix Sub/LCD TV/underwear/beer kicking the crap out of it.

    I do feel for the handicapped. But learn and abide by your limitations.

  54. one800higgins says:

    @HAL1300: They didn’t deny the flight based on autism. They denied the flight based on the kid not being controlled. Yea he has a disability, but acts like that are so they are treated EQUALLY. If he’s rolling on the floor and the mother can’t control him, it sucks but it’s reason to dismiss them from the flight.

  55. Pithlit says:

    @mxjohnson: You make some good points. However, it can be done. Autism isn’t an absolute, where you can’t ever fly with kids. The thing is, we just don’t have enough information because we weren’t there. It could have been either way. I’ve flown a few times with my son, and things didn’t get nearly this bad. But, I didn’t have short tempered flight attendants who kept bothering my son, as this parent contends. If she’s right, then the airline was in the wrong. It should never have gotten to the point where the flight had to turn around. As patient and experienced as I am as a parent of an autistic child, if a surly FA kept bugging my son and reaching over and tightening his belt like that, the same thing could happen to us. And that isn’t right. With all the cost cutting, and mistreatment of employees, I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine that that’s what happened. It could just as easily be that this was just a classic meltdown. Those happen, too.

  56. one800higgins says:

    ADA doesn’t mean people with disabilities are untouchable… It means you have to treat them fair and equal. If that child didn’t have autism he would STILL be kicked off the plane.

  57. ironchef says:

    some kids shouldn’t fly.

    parents should have known better.

  58. godlyfrog says:

    @HAL1300: What you’re referring to would violate the Air Carrier Access Act. As others have mentioned, the ADA only applies to airlines in terms of employment.

    @marsneedsrabbits: I would normally agree with the customer in this case, but I noticed the same things you highlighted. Nothing in the story leads me to believe she made it clear her son was autistic, or even implies that she attempted to explain anything to the flight attendant. I suspect that the autistic card is being played for sympathy here, and that this is the first the airline is hearing about it.

  59. @mxjohnson: Personally, I’d pay good money to avoid the chatty old ladies, the blowhard businessmen, and the drinkers. The most obnoxious person on a flight is rarely the screaming child.

    Amen to that!

  60. rbcat says:

    Hai guize!

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (42 USC 12101) does not apply to commercial airlines, whether United States or foreign flagged. The law you seek is the Air Carrier Access Act (49 USC 41705, implemented by 14 CFR Part 382), which does contain limitations on how “far” an airline must go to accommodate a disabled passenger before it can deem the situation unsafe and exclude that passenger. Let us turn now to 14 CFR 382.31(d), which states, in part:

    Carrier personnel … may refuse to provide transportation to any passenger on the basis of safety, and may refuse to provide transportation to any passenger whose carriage would violate the Federal Aviation Regulations.

    If the child is not buckled (and is, actually, ON THE FLOOR) during the most dangerous part of flight (take off; landing is arguably “safer” since a descent can usually be controlled), then the airline was perfectly justified in having the woman and her child depart. Every one’s child (mine included) has some sort of “issue” or “problem” and it’s the job of the parent to work around the problem, NOT force society to cater to his or her every whim. Yes, driving or taking the train is less convenient, but it’s also much safer for an autistic or otherwise incompatible-with-stressful-situations child.

  61. Pithlit says:

    @godlyfrog: Oh, believe me. I speak from experience. She would have mentioned it long before it got to the point where the plane turned around. Any time you’re dealing with people where your child’s autism may in any way cause complications, you let it be known as soon as possible. It’s highly unlikely she said nothing. Not to mention it was probably very apparent even if she’d said nothing.

  62. Will_ND says:

    I have sympathy for parents with truly autistic children, but it is the hand they have been dealt. It’s part of the risk of having children. If your child is that unruly, you should not try to fly and make everyone else miserable. That said — there are many kids that are not autistic, but simply spoiled, whiney, screaming brats.

  63. Pithlit says:

    @wesmills: I don’t think she’s upset because they didn’t cater to her child’s whim. I think the parent’s upset because they provoked her son to begin with. It’s her contention that the FA was surly and kept reaching in to tighten her son’s seat belt, which led to the helacious tantrum. And if she’s right, and that’s how it went down, I agree with her. FA should have backed off and let her handled it.

    Otherwise, I agree with you. ADA doesn’t apply, and if the kid can’t stay in the seat, the flight can’t continue.

  64. rachaeljean says:

    @The_IT_Crone: I work in public schools too. You hit the nail RIGHT on the head.

    Also the lady saying that she just “lost it” when the turned the plane around wins no points with me. Who’s the adult in that family, I mean come on? Hold it together for your kid, and gee, maybe next time you should be somewhat prepared that they might not tolerate your little angel “rolling around on the floor” during takeoff -disability or not. =/

    It’s sad for the kid, who probably had no idea what the hell was going on. But this lady needs to cowboy up and face reality.

  65. donkeyjote says:

    @kepler11: What part of prove it do you not understand?

  66. nequam says:

    @kepler11: That’s a thoughtful post. How about helping people out by explaining the impact of the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), which preceded the ADA.

  67. prag says:

    I don’t have a problem with this. If your kid can’t behave then, too bad, he can’t fly. Drug him next time.

  68. bohemian says:

    The airline was right for tossing them off. Flying with a toddler is a potential nightmare depending on how the kid deals with things. Trying to put a kid that is autistic into the situation was plain stupid.
    The only thing I would fault the airline with is the flight attendant messing with the kid physically. But did the mother stop her, warn her the kid was autistic and doing that was going to probably make the kid go ballistic?

    I have at least a shred of sympathy for people flying with small kids if it is really necessary like for a family emergency or moving. Forcing everyone else to deal with your ill behaved child so you can go on vacation is selfish.

  69. HAL1300 says:

    @1800higgins: Correct, they are times where the ADA doesn’t act and I’m not saying that ADA makes people untouchable. Yes, if a kid is running up and down the asle and the parents are just there laughing, sure kick them off. BUT if that same kid has autism and the attendant eggs it on, then that is a different story. Not saying the ADA plays a role in that but because of the condition it should have been a factor in dealing with him.
    That is like a bunch of cops yelling at a deaf person to lay down and he doesn’t understand and they shoot him. The deafness of that person resulted in them escalating to shooting him. Gee, that sounds like discrimination.
    If you read my message, I gave another example of an attendant bothering a guide dog. Neither cases should have happened. The attendant shouldn’t touch the boy nor yell at him just the same as not bothering the guide dog in my example.
    Also parents shouldn’t allow attendants to bother their kids. Maybe she told the attendant to stop, maybe she didn’t. Who knows. But if I was that parent I would have told the attendant to go take a seat on the wing. No one, even with FAA regulations behind them, has the right to yell at another person’s child.
    My point is, the attendant shouldn’t have touched (to tighten the seat belt) or yelled at the boy and in a result of his mental condition caused him to have a meltdown. Hell, even kids without autism would have after all that.

  70. Pithlit says:

    @rachaeljean: Wow. My son is mainstreamed in public school. I love the people who have worked with them, and can’t say enough good things about them. I can’t picture them jumping to conclusions and being so judgmental the way you and THE IT CRONE have.

  71. tinky XIII says:

    Gotta side with the airline, as well. It doesn’t matter what your child’s issue is, if the parent can’t control them, then the family needs to find alternate transportation.

    She lives in Cary? Get a car, head out around ten in the morning and she’d hit very little traffic on the interstate. She’d be in Jersey before nightfall.

  72. jpmoney says:

    I’m late to the game, but this is a NON-STORY.

    The woman was on Good Morning America this morning and ADMITTED that she was in a bulk-head seat and did not cooperate with the flight crew a) when they asked her to put her carry-on overhead and b) when they asked her to control her child.

    As much as I want to have compassion, you can’t have special treatment. If you need to move, ask to be moved. I’m sure someone on the flight can help.

    Non-story, move along.

    /heartless-indeed

  73. S3CT says:

    No sympathy from me at all. There are alternate ways to get where you need to go and air travel is not for everyone. If you have a special needs child that absolutely cannot behave in public then you need to find another way. Just because you have a child does not mean there are special rules for you.

  74. HAL1300 says:

    @bohemian and all the others that think egging on the kid was okay. Put your self in the mother’s shoes or hell the kid’s. Oh wait, none of you do that because it will put you out of your comfort zone. Just like seating next to a deaf, blind, or wheelchair bound person.

  75. ShariC says:

    @sleze69:

    I agree with you that those who have children with problems that are going to increase the chances that there will be problems should not fly. It should be part of the parents’ responsibility to know the needs and limits of their child and if he or she is capable of enduring an experience in a reasonable fashion. It’s irresponsible parenting to subject a child to an experience which is more than he can bear given a medical condition when there are other options. Clearly, autistic kids need situations where the parent has more control than a plane flight affords in order to isolate the child from certain types of stimulation.

    It’s common sense, but people seem to believe they are entitled to do whatever they want regardless of how they may disrupt others or the very process they are paying for. While people with “disabilities” have a right to service, they don’t have a right to it at the expense of everyone else paying for or providing that service.

    The main problem with stories like this is they lack the other side of the story. The mother keeps saying the flight attendant kept tightening the seatbelt. For all we know, the mother or child kept loosening it to the point where it was not safe (and if there was an accident where a loose seatbelt harmed or killed the child, you can bet she’d sue them for not advising her to tighten it).

  76. Brie says:

    My kids just changed karate schools and one of the girls in their class has Asperger’s Syndrome (a high-functioning form of autism, characterized by inability to recognize social cues such as “Please stand on your dot and stop talking because it’s time for class and the teacher needs to teach.”) I recognize this ONLY because my close friend’s daughter has Asperger’s. Had I not had that context, I would’ve thought this little girl was a clueless jerk. Wonder if the AA F/A fell into that category.

  77. swimmey says:

    @Pithlit: Plenty of “regular” kids would flip if strangers were touching them, yelling at them or making their mom upset. (I’ve got an Aspie son who’s a great traveler — he’s 16 now.)

    New toys, extra drinks and snacks, lots of prepping (love the social stories) and calm words/actions from grownups are what ALL kids need, not just autistic ones. I would have reseated them into another row where the mom could keep her bag of tricks nearby.

    To those who hate children in public places: Kids make noise and wiggle. You did it too, when you were small. Now it’s not your turn any more. I’m sorry.

  78. @kepler11: Well, sorry amateur lawyer.

    The ADA doesn’t apply, but rather the Air
    Carrier Access Act does apply.

  79. Anyway, it’s impossible to know what happened.

    I suspect that: the airline staff, overworked and underpaid, were insensitive and made the situation worse.

    I also have incredibly sympathy for the mother and passengers, as the child was probably extremely distraught through no fault of his own. This was probably also confusing and upsetting for passengers, especially those that have not encountered autistic children.

    It sounds like a very unfortunate situation.

    As far as the law goes, it really depends on whether the child posed a threat to the flight or if the employees reasonably thought he did. I have no idea as to those questions or answers.

  80. mxjohnson says:

    @Pithlit: I didn’t mean to suggest children with autism shouldn’t fly. My concerns about this case are focused on the behavior, not the diagnosis. I’m sure there are autistic kids who can fly, and non-autistic kids who can’t. Or shouldn’t.

    Were I traveling with a special needs child, I’d work with the airline long before getting on the flight. Whether I was asking them not to serve peanuts, or to avoid interacting my child, I’d look for some assurance that they understood his needs. I don’t think it would be fair to anybody to demand during taxi or takeoff that my child receive special treatment.

    If the boy’s responses were so predictable to a flight attendant checking his seatbelt, his mother should have predicted it, and prevented it. I’ve had attendants lean over me to tug my son’s seatbelt, so it’s not a rare occurrence.

    If, before traveling, I asked an airline to help ensure a good flight for a special needs child, I’d be upset if they refused. And I’d be livid if an airline representative agreed and then forgot to inform the flight crew. But I wouldn’t blame the crew that turned the plane around. They need to do their jobs, and they should focus on safety and procedures during taxi and takeoff. They shouldn’t have to focus on me or my child. Essentially, you’re asking for some consideration, and all that considering should be done before everybody boards the plane.

    Taxi and takeoff the absolute worse time to tell the crew that your child has autism, that autistic children react badly to this and that, and that the flight crew needs to bend the rules for you — don’t talk to him, don’t touch him, don’t touch his belt, let me keep my bag on my lap. It may all be reasonable. But they don’t have time to consider all that, so they cannot be considerate.

    At least, that’s my take.

    @cmcd14: Until he was about five, my son would occasionally get carsick, seasick, even airsick once. Dramamine worked well to keep him from getting queasy, and it did sedate him. I’d wager some kids act badly because they feel a little sick, and a dose of Children’s Dramamine is appropriate.

    However, some kids have the opposite reaction to antihistamines, becoming agitated and hyperactive (as do some pets). A plane would not be the ideal place to discover this.

  81. cyberscribe says:

    I think the airline did the right thing. I certainly wouldn’t want an uncontrollable child seated next to me on ANY public conveyance.

  82. For once (and I emphasize for once), kepler11 is correct. Airlines aren’t covered under the ADA. They’re covered under the somewhat-looser Air Carriers Act.

    disabiltytravel.com goes into some detail about the ACA. Some relevant notes:

    First, “Disabled passengers’ items stored in the cabin must conform to FAA rules on the stowage of carry-on baggage.” Point for the flight attendant.

    On the other hand, “Carriers must provide passage to an individual who has a disability that may affect his or her appearance or involuntary behavior, even if this disability may offend, annoy, or be an inconvenience to crew-members or other passengers.” Point for mom.

    On the other other hand, “The carrier may refuse transportation if the individual with a disability would endanger the health or safety of other passengers, or transporting the person would be a violation of FAA safety rules.”

    So the tie-breaker questions would seem to be: Is a screaming autistic kid a threat to flight safety? I’m inclined to think not, but I’m not a judge. This one may have to be settled in court.

  83. glycolized says:

    @HAL1300: The metaphors you chose are totally stupid and don’t really apply here. Teasing a guide dog? Cops shooting a deaf person? Get real.

  84. Pithlit says:

    @mxjohnson:And there’s not one clue that this woman did none of those things you suggest. Just about every single person in this thread is jumping to conclusions. I think it is just about as likely that the flight attendant was actually being an ass, and instigated things. I guess the fact that I’m also a parent of a special needs child, so I’m less likely to jump to the conclusion that she hadn’t done those things that you suggest? I don’t know. Its possible she didn’t. My contention is that we don’t know. None of us were there. I wanted to be one of the counter posts to all the “The airlines did the right thing! Parents of special needs kids think they’re soooooo entitled! I hate brats on planes! The ADA doesn’t apply to them! I work in a public school and I see these entitled parents all the time! Go airlines!” crap going on this thread. But, I didn’t want to completely jump to conclusions going the other direction, either.

  85. Coelacanth says:

    @blb: Hrmm. Several hundred for a young child’s plane ticket, or a $15-or-so fee for a checked bag.

    Tough decision. =/ Everyone wins with this solution!

    /sarcasm

  86. welsey says:

    I work with kids, ages ranging from 3-13, and most of them really are not spoiled, loud or obnoxious. You just have to be a little sympathetic and understand their motivations: most kids who cry on airplanes do so because their ears hurt or they’re scared – kids don’t cry just for the hell of it or to annoy you. I don’t understand how some people can universally dislike them or feel that an 18+ flight would be ideal. I’d personally rather sit next to a little kid than a full-size person with the cramped airline seats: think of all the extra room!

    With this story, who knows what the situation was. I have definitely interacted with parents who believe their children can do no wrong (and that any issue with their kid is YOUR fault no matter what), even those who have told me that they don’t believe in saying “no” because it’s a form of oppression, but the vast majority of parents are normal people. Most people don’t want their children to throw a fit in public any more than the public wants it.

  87. Parting says:

    I would hate to be a passenger on that flight!

    I’m with airline on this one.

    (Since I flew with screaming children on the regular basis, and never had my flight turned around, I don’t believe this women, sorry.)

  88. @prag: Autism doesn’t work that way, dude. For the “normal” 3 year old, sure a Benadryl probably will induce a nap and make everyone happier. But autistic kids can have adverse reactions to foods, sights, sounds, and medications. Any new stimulus can be a problem. Adding a medication to the mix of a plane flight probably would make matters worse.

    That said, if the kid really was in the floor, they had to come off that flight. And I have a vision-impaired kid myself. Don’t see me signing him up for Little League, though.

  89. yargrnhoj says:

    I’m siding with the airline here. I’ve flown on many flights with screaming children (including once with one of my own). I’ve had flight attendants ask us to tighten our daughter’s seatbelt. There is NO way the airline wants to turn that flight around once they left the gate. They want it in the air. If the kid was ‘rolling around on the floor’, they did the right thing. If the FA did indeed come over to tighten the seatbelt, the mother needs to say “I’ll do that myself”. More than likely the FA told her to belt the kid and mom didn’t or wouldn’t.

  90. kathyl says:

    If they didn’t want a screaming child on that plane, maybe they should have told their flight attendants not to scold, yell at, and torture him. It sounds to me like they MADE that kid melt down and then kicked him off for reacting to the flight attendant who frankly sounded like she was solidly in the wrong.

    Anyone here who says they’re siding with the airline is just saying it because they wouldn’t want to be on a flight with a child who was scared and crying, but it sounds a whole heck of a lot like the flight crew on this plane contributed heavily to the situation. You can’t incite someone, especially someone who is young and autistic, and then place the blame solely on their shoulders when they react. Ridiculous. I don’t like to listen to children cry either, as I have a child myself and it’s difficult to listen to a crying child and feel helpless to affect them, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not people and are entitled to be treated with kindness and respect.

  91. InsaneNewman says:

    From this article:
    “The Farrells, who were on the way to visit family in New Jersey, were originally supposed to takeoff on Sunday, but the flight was cancelled when the plane was on the runway.
    Jarret was perfectly fine on that flight, Farrell said, with crew members letting her son walk around the plane and watch his DVD player.”

    So, in the mother’s eyes, everything was alright when the flight crew didn’t enforce any of the rules? That was the “understanding” she was looking for?

  92. Amy Alkon000 says:

    lets say a blind person has a guide dog and a airline attendant keeps bothering the dog and the dog keeps moving around. (note most guide dogs that are trained wont care)

    I’ll sit next to a Leader Dog any day of the week.

    A flight attendant isn’t an expert in autism. They’re there to enforce airline regulations and serve the passengers. If your kid is rolling around on the floor screaming, and can’t deal with a flight attendant pulling his seatbelt tight, well, how about you stay home instead of burdening the rest of the passengers?

    On a flight, I want to sit quietly and work on my computer or read the Wall Street Journal or nap. I applaud the parents who actually PARENT their children. Those are the kids you don’t really notice, because they’re sitting quietly reading or watching a movie, and they don’t spend the whole flight kicking the back of your chair. As for those “parents” who’ve unilaterally decided that “it takes a village” (to suffer their brats), I say, stay home in your own damn village and ask Granny to fly in. Not possible? Well, boohoo, that’s just too bad.

  93. mikelotus says:

    @NightSteel: Let’s not generalize too much. It would be like saying that all people that drive hybrids are granola eating, sandal and socks wearing, weirdos.

  94. mizmoose says:

    @kepler11: Like hell it doesn’t. The ADA not only applies to airlines, the FAA has regulations that make specific requirements to the airlines to meet ADA specs.

    That said, this is worse than ADA, this is simple harrassment — if a flight attendant came over and started repeatedly poking at my (thankfully non-existant) child, I’d be having a few words with her and filing lots of complaints. Hands off the children unless it’s absolutely required — and I’ll bet donuts to bacon this was not “required”, just someone in need of a recto-stick-ectomy.

  95. CaliforniaCajun says:

    @Invalid_User_Name: Exactly. No winners. No blame to be assigned, but a good chance for Consumerist to grist up some more headlines for people to click on.

  96. CaliforniaCajun says:

    @kathyl: Look, lady – there’s no winner here, as a poster above said. Flight attendants are required by their employers and the law to tighten seat bels when needed, and possibly “poke” (run fingers between seat belt and abdomen of a child) to ensure seat belts are fastened. It’s not the airline’s fault – I’m sure this escapade cost them plenty. It’s not the child’s fault – he may not be able to modulate his reaction to stimulus. It’s not the mom’s fault – she had never flown with this child before and didn’t know how he’d react – although there’s a case to be made for an educated guess and a rain ride.

  97. Norsehawk says:

    If the crotchspawn is getting out of the seatbelt and is able to roll around on the floor screaming, obviously it isn’t tight enough.

    On the return flight from Japan there was a 3 year old who they nearly kicked off the plane because he behaved almost exactly like the description of this child, they eventually got him stuffed in his seat, but the crying didn’t stop for hours. After 3 hours of the kid, I was all for tossing him bodily into the cargo hold. I wanted to thank the flight attendant who told the mother that it wasn’t fair to everyone else on the plane to put up with their misbehaving child.

  98. RayDelMundo says:

    10 minutes to Wapner.
    Should have flown Qantas.

  99. Edge231 says:

    AA did did the right thing. The mentally disabled kid was a a distraction. As a paying customer, I should not have to put up with such a kid on my flight.

    AA has more to lose by discomforting the rest of their passengers by leaving the annyoing kid on the plane.

  100. KittensRCute! says:

    it might sound insensitive but if the child is a problem it should not fly. even if the mother did store the bag in the overhead bin the fact alone that it was having a fit BEFORE the flight even started is reason enough to remove said mother and child.

  101. If you’re going to take a kid on a plane you need to drug them. Having a kid doesn’t make you special and if the brat is annoying everyone on the plane then you don’t need to be flying.

  102. rubberkeyhole says:

    @bdgbill: I agree with this.

    I also would pay more to be on flights where passengers don’t know each other. I always end up on flights of family reunions and crap where there is so much noise and yelling that I would jump out of the plane if given the choice.

  103. mxjohnson says:

    @Pithlit: You’re absolutely right that it’s possible the woman did make arrangements ahead of time. I watched the Eyewitness News interview with her, and she didn’t say anything about it, but of course that doesn’t mean she didn’t do it. I shouldn’t assume.

    And you’re right that the flight attendant could have been an ass. I’ve encountered some myself. I’ve encountered more, however, that I would term brusque. That could be enough to cause a problem with a sensitive child, as could the pilot’s stern warning. But again, I was assuming.

    I used to teach, so I know the basics about autism, and how not to act towards an autistic child. And yet I have no clue how to prepare a cabin for takeoff.

    I’ve never really pondered whether we should expect all professions to be sensitive to people with autism or Asperger’s. With autism more and more common, it would make sense. You clearly have more experience with this, so I defer to you gladly.

    @Norsehawk: “Crotchspawn” is clever. We’re all crotchspawn.

  104. My question is why did the women LET the flight attendent mess with her child and not step in? If the flight attendant came back a second time, if it was my kid, I would have told her to let me handle it and fixed the seatbelt myself and continued to watch to make sure he didn’t try to mess with it anymore. This woman just seems like one of those parents that let the world take care of their kid.

  105. @toridactyl: And ignore that part about adjusting the seat belt myself because I don’t think that you can even do that on a plane…my bad.
    :

  106. The mother admits:

    “He just melted down. He saw me getting upset. He was upset. He was on the floor rolling around,” she said.

    If mother’s statement is correct then there is only choice for the pilot to make.

  107. LionelEHutz says:

    I’d rather sit next to a screaming kid than the overgrown, selfish pompous assholes who have the audacity to think that just because they are over 18 they can consider themselves adults these days.

  108. jblaze1 says:

    OK. I’m going to hell, but screaming kids on an airplane is a miserable experience. Should the whole flight suffer? Should the people next to the kid suffer as well?

  109. jblaze1 says:

    Let’s give it up for MOM OF THE YEAR!

    “He saw me getting upset.”

  110. armour says:

    Some of you people are totally ignorant. The child has a disability. As a parent of two Autistic children some of there actions are out of control! Because it part of their disabilities!!!!!! No one wants to be one flight with a screaming child least of all the parent of the child. Most of the episodes do not last long but people either incentive or uninformed usually make the matters worse when they try to intervene.

    Some of you I will say are assholes, yes there is some sense of entitlement because we don’t want our children to be treated like third rate people that should not be seen in society and should be sent off to some sort of facility like they did in the 50′s.

    Parents and children did not ask for this to effect them and some time have limited control in the actions should this mean that they need to have less of a life as some sort of punishment for having a defective child? That’s why the ADA was created to help those with disabilities have some dignity and to be able to live in society with out ignorant, insensitive or indifferent people deny them services.

    •Insistence on sameness; resistance to change
    •Difficulty in expressing needs; using gestures or pointing instead of words
    •Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language
    •Laughing (and/or crying) for no apparent reason; showing distress for reasons not apparent to others
    •Preference to being alone; aloof manner
    •Tantrums
    •Difficulty in mixing with others
    •Not wanting to cuddle or be cuddled
    •Little or no eye contact
    •Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
    •Sustained odd play
    •Spinning objects
    •Obsessive attachment to objects
    •Apparent over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain
    •No real fears of danger
    •Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
    •Uneven gross/fine motor skills
    •Non-responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf, although hearing tests are in normal range

  111. armour says:

    @Corporate-Shill: yes a two year old is a huge danger of overpowering the aircrew and going to take the plane down.

  112. vastrightwing says:

    Children should be seen and not heard. Thank you AA for doing the right thing.

  113. mattpr says:

    Some people have hinted at this, but the ADA won’t hold up for this. The kid’s two and a half years old, which is wayyyy to early to reliably diagnose autism.

  114. My keyboard has a typo key says:

    Nor really sure. I always got the impression most 2 and 3 year olds are very temperamental people. Even if they have no mental deficiencies.’The terrible two’s’ was coined for a good reason.

    If any parent cannot ensure the child is properly restrained for the flight. They cannot fly. Same for any ground trip. The child should of been used to being in a seat belt.
    As for rolling around screaming. I seen my share of children doing in stores all pissed off at something. I wonder if they were slow minded.

    I am more than willing to be cool if the parent is making a best effort. Just do not expect me to care, if they do not.

  115. Tansis says:

    @sean77:

    I knew my son was not developing normal before his second birthday but his pediatrician said he was normal. Now at the age of over three he was diagnosed with mild to moderate Autism. As parents we tend to be the first people that diagnose our children. Things will only get worse, with the current trend of 1 in 150 children born with a form of Autism. It looks likely that a plane with children present will have a reason to turn the plane around, if this behavior from American Airlines becomes normal.

  116. jjason82 says:

    I sympathize with the mother but if I’m being honest with myself, I would have been happy with AA if I had been another passenger on that flight.

    I used to work with autistic children at a specialized school. Trust me, hell hath no fury like a pissed-off autistic kid. You think non-autistic kids are bad when they’re upset? You have no idea. They scream like three times louder and stay angry ten times longer. Its entirely possible that some small thing will set them off, like getting apple juice instead of grape juice, and they will literally scream at the top of their lungs for the next two hours. This is a very likely scenario and if this was the case, I 100% support AA in their decision to kick these people off the flight. A whole plane of people shouldn’t have to suffer for hours just because of one person. Yes, its not fair to the mom and the kid, but which is better, being unfair to 2 people or being unfair to 200 people?

  117. NightSteel says:

    @mikelotus: I don’t think I was generalizing too much, though I suppose I could have made use of the word ‘many’ or ‘enough’. I’ll bet plenty of people would agree with my assessment of the prevalence of people with entitlement complexes.

    And just fyi, I do drive a hybrid, eat granola for breakfast, and wear sandals with socks. Ever had sunburn on your feet? It sucks. Hard.

  118. impoftheperverse says:

    toridactyl: I was reading your comment and muttering “Amen!” under my breath because it was exactly what I was thinking while reading all the previous posts.

    I don’t know why you felt that you had to retract your comment.

    I’ve flown with my children many times. I would have been mortified if a flight attendant had to come over, even ONCE, the tighten their seatbelts. No way would I let it happen a second time.

    Look, folks, the crux of this matter is very simple. The flight attendant did not target this child for harrasment. That’s virtually certain. What is much more likely is that the mother simply could not, or WOULD not, take responsibility and tighten her child’s seatbelt on her own.

    Because the mother didn’t, or WOULDN’T, do it, the flight attendant had to make the effort.

    And all you folks rushing to defend the mother against the mean ol’ flight attendant: who among you can say that you’re unaware that “federal law requires that all passengers remain in their sears with the seatbelt SECURELY FASTENED during takeoff and landing?”

    Honestly?

    Anyone?

    Bueller?

    But, seriously, it seems to me that the flight attendant and the pilot had no choice. This is not about the other passengers being “inconvenienced” by a screaming child. This is about a child who was, by the mother’s own admission, “rolling around on the floor” and screaming. The pilot SIMPLY CANNOT TAKE OFF with a child flopping around on the floor.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the poster above who said “rent a car and grow up.”

  119. Tallanvor says:

    Disability or not, people shouldn’t expect to be able to take a screaming child who won’t stay still on board a plane. No child is so special that they should be able to inconvenience 50+ people for however long a plane ride is. Flying is not an inalienable right. It’s a service which can and should be denied to those people who would make the experience more miserable than it already is for the rest of the people on the plane.

  120. sodden says:

    Amazing how many people just applaud the airline and assume the worst. Overuse of the phrases “Several hours”, “screaming child”, “child is a problem” are common here.

    Others make the point that this couldn’t have been a flight of more than 90 minutes, that the attendant was told the child is autistic and should not have been retightening his belt much less yelling at him, and that the child didn’t leave his seat until the pilot came out and was visibly frustrated.

    I have to question how many people are just reacting from their gut because they experienced crying babies on flights, and don’t really care about what really happened here. I gotta say, for those people, I hope they have kids and experience this from the parent’s side. Maybe then they will learn to listen to both sides.

  121. kalim4c says:

    Whatever the child’s condition is, he was creating an unreasonable situation for the rest of the passengers. If you’re going to bring a child into an enviroment with strict regulations and rules, make sure you can control him accordingly. I’ll admit it, I hate kids, but sitting next to a screaming child is a nightmare for anyone.

  122. CaliforniaCajun says:

    @Norsehawk: “If the crotchspawn is getting out of the seatbelt ” There’s no reason to use these derogatory terms. People have babies. Regardless of your feelings on reproduction/overpopulation, there’s no real excuse to make fun of people or degrade them.

    Sheesh. I don’t plan on having any kids with my wife and don’t denigrate people who are pregnant – neither do I make fun of people who have decided to have kids.

  123. Bixby says:

    It doesn’t matter that this kid had autism in this situation. It doesn’t even matter that there are people on this thread that don’t understand autism (relative to the thread). The kid wasn’t restrained, the kid couldn’t be restrained. The kid gets off the plane.

    Maybe she’ll realize she has an uphill battle and will realize that her freaking the hell out isn’t ever going to help the situation if her kid is right there and more of this stuff is going to keep happening. If she can’t control her behavior to the point that it upsets her son that she knows is autistic and is apt to have meltdowns, she can’t be getting pissy when people who don’t know her son is autistic and just met the kid get frustrated and cause him to meltdown. That’s kinda an unfair expectation…

    And from a selfish standpoint, just because your autistic kid is acting out on my flight doesn’t mean I have to like it. I won’t yell at you and say inappropriate things but don’t expect me to be okay with it.

  124. S3CT says:

    I would pay more money to get on a flight with no kids. Hear that bankrupt airlines?

  125. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    So, convenience trumps compassion?
    Thank goodness all of you people were perfect children and have never pissed anyone else off.

  126. Cool story bro says:

    Where’s the CCTV footage of this? Or at least the amateur phone video recording? We’re in the digital era, people. We shouldn’t need to speculate anymore, dammit.

  127. Norsehawk says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: If you can’t control your child’s behavior, don’t inflict them on other people. If you can’t take the precious little snowflake out into public without creating a scene, don’t take them into public. Well behaved children are great. As others have said, if the kid was not properly secured and the child was hurt, you damn well know that the mother would be suing the airline for millions.

  128. battra92 says:

    Good for AA. My cousin is severely autistic and is an absolute terror. He screams at the top of his lungs constantly, cried, bites people (and things) all the time and just is intolerable.

    Seriously, what was this woman thinking BRINGING him on the plane in the first place.

    One more reason I’m never having kids.

  129. Why’s it matter that he’s autistic? A disruptive child is a disruptive child, mentally challenged or not.

  130. nadmonk says:

    I think flight crews are getting a bit out of hand in kicking people off. My wife and I just recently flew through O’Hare. During our layover we met a woman who had just been kicked off a flight. The reason? She had a helper dog, that happened to be a pitbull. It had its papers, doggie ID certifying it was a fully trained and licensed helper dog, everything. But the flight attendant kicked her off saying “Because pitbulls are mean and violent dogs.” At the same time another helper dog (a German Shepard) was allowed to remain on the flight. This was in direct violation of the American’s with Disabilities act. The airline’s local office was very appologetic, giving her multiple round trip tickets to anywhere within the US. However, she had been stuck in O’Hare for 6 hours, after already traveling for 3-4 hours. And O’Hare security wouldn’t let her exit to take the dog outside, saying they couldn’t process her back through security with it. And, since it was a helper dog, it was so well trained it refused to go inside, even on paper, even though it was obviously miserable.

  131. xanax25mg says:

    A few things bother me in the postings. first is people claim the flight attendant should “know” not to fuss with an autistic child’s seatbelt or deal with a meltdown. Why exactly should a glorified waitress at 40,000 feet be an expert on pervasive developmental disorders? Did the mother explain her child was autistic (again, not that necessarily indicates to a layperson what it means) or perhaps he just seemed like every other unruly child? Secondly there’s this constant call of compassion for the mom and she herself said something to the effect “If they just gave him time to let me settle him down everything woudl be ok”. Just how long would that take though? How much time is the airline, the crew, the paying passengers, passengers in other cities waiting for this plane and connections supposed to wait for her to calm her child down? There’s this presumption that people should be compassionate and make accomodations for her and her child. Why is not the same philosophy applied to her? That she should understand a plane full of people have bought tickets and have lives and need to get someplace and maybe her child isn’t the flying type and she should give everyone else consideration rather than expecting the world to stop turning for her and her kid.

  132. sleze69 says:

    @sodden: You’re probably right that most of the complainers don’t have kids. I don’t yet. But when I do, I won’t be flying with them until they are old enough to handle it (unless they need some kind of life saving operation).

  133. The child was in violation of FAA regulations by not being in his seat with the seatbelt fastened. He was rolling around on the floor, crying.

    While the reasons for him crying may be up for moral debate, in the meantime get off the plane.

  134. lbell says:

    @vgerik1234:
    Whining little brat? Did you read the word autistic?? You don’t touch, poke, tighten the seatbelt of an autistic child. Let the parent do it, for gosh sakes. I understand the need for the parent and child to leave the plane, but this could have ben handled 100% more professionally and with at least an ounce of kindness. Don’t people understand making a bad situation worse is just plain stupid?
    A special needs person has as much right to try a plane flight as anyone else. If it doesn’t work out, off you go, but don’t treat the child/mother like they are idiots.
    Trash talking kids these days seems to be a sport.

  135. rawsteak says:

    im not for medicating kids, but i do think a dose or two of nyquil would have kept that kid quiet for the rest of the flight.

    i’m normally hyperactive and i can’t sit still, and if i have a flight, i try to deprive myself of sleep for a day so i can be considerate to the people around me when i pass out on the plane. just a suggestion for people in the future.

  136. We’re only hearing one side of the story here. There were a couple of statements from the airline, but it’s fully possible that the mother flipped out as well. I can’t imagine turning the plane around just because of a crying child.

  137. vgerik1234 says:

    @kityglitr: I dislike kids to, but because a kid is autistic, doesn’t mean they have full rights to keep them on the plane due to “special needs”. If the kid is being annoying, kick em off.

    @bdgbill: I completely agree. No child airplanes and we are all good.

    The perfect flight is a little chit chat, good catering by the flight attendants, no hassling by them or the consumers, and nice pillows/chairs.

  138. RStewie says:

    As a person who had to endure 2.5 hours seated in front of an autistic child with head-banging impulses, I can say that I’m sorry she and the child were upset, but I can’t say I don’t disagree with AA.

    Children who have special needs should be treated differently, but I say it’s up to the parents to ensure this, and not the airline. If you know your child freaks out, take them somewhere where that’s ok. Not an airplane, where every other passenger is obligated to hear it while trapped on a flying tube 50K feet in the air.

  139. pallendo says:

    I have been on a flight where they had to remove a child and it’s mother. When boarding, the child (around 6 or so) reached out and wanted to touch a baby that was being held by IT’s mother in first class. The mother yanked her 6 year old back to keep him from touching the baby and the 6year old ended up scratching the baby’s head. He then screamed loudly for the nest 20 minutes that “I want to see the baby! Make sure it’s all right!” This went on until the attendants removed the kid and his mother and then had to wait until the ground crew offloaded their luggage.

    It’s like going to a restaurant or a movie theater. I wish that there were “Family friendly” flights that are for families and kids, and adult only flights, where kids wouldn’t be allowed on.

  140. battra92 says:

    @ConsequencesIX: It’s a good excuse for not keeping your child under control. My uncle and aunt use the excuse quite often.

  141. vgerik1234 says:

    Oh lawd, I love how you all are not reading the article. The kid was not obeying flight regulations with not staying in seat belt and rolling on the floor crying. It doesn’t matter if the kid was autistic or not, he was breaking the rules and being a nuisance for everyone else.

    The only reason why this is on the news is because the kid is autistic. This stuff happens all the time. Nothing new to see/hear here. Stop complaining, you would want the kid off the plane too if you were next to the brat.

  142. weehawk says:

    Hi.

    Just to throw a little fuel on this fire, I’ll add this. The lady is from Cary, NC. This is the big hoity-toity town outside of Raleigh that all of the jerky NY’ers and NJ’ans moved to. These are the “special” people of the Raleigh area. The fact that this lady did not follow instructions on the plane does not surprise me at all. Folks from Cary are pretty much the laughing-stock of the Raleigh area. Everyone outside of Cary cant stand them. It’s probably a fad to call your 2.5 yr old autistic. One soccer mom does it and the rest have to have one too. Just like adopting a chinese kid. It’s probably chic to have an autistic kid in Cary. Dont bother flaming me, I’m immune.

  143. I love when Consumerist editors ignore the child rolling around in the floor, the woman who “lost it” when the plane turned around, the refusal to stow her baggage, and more, and instead post a headline like “American Eagle Kicks Autistic Child and His Mother Off Plane”.

    The headline should have been “Disruptive Mother and Child Refuse Flight Crew Directives and FAA Regulations, Are Kicked off Plane.”

    Notice nobody mentioned other passengers interceding for the lady and child…that tells me that maybe, just maybe, they were in the wrong.

  144. Cap'n Jack says:

    Kids rolling around on the floor is never acceptable (or safe) behavior on a flight. Doesn’t matter if the kid is autistic or not. If the kid can’t fly, he can’t fly. FAA regulations are guidelines that apply to everyone for the safety of all passengers. To bend those rules for the sake of one special needs child puts all other passengers at risk, which is unacceptable.

  145. Man I hope I never had an autistic child. “I’m sorry my boy is screaming in your ear, but there’s nothing I can do about it, you see. He just gets so upset when he feels air on his skin.”

  146. @weehawk: It’s probably a fad to call your 2.5 yr old autistic.

    Oh God, you might be right!

  147. Sanveann says:

    @lalaland13: I actually sided with the church in that case. The boy was very large and strong (not a little kid, but a teen) and had nearly knocked over elderly people, jumped into people’s cars, etc. They’d offered the mom several options, including a Mass said in their own home every Sunday, which the mother refused.

    It sounds like the poor kid just wasn’t able to handle going to church, and the parents refused to see that. I wouldn’t have wanted to sit near that boy, and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted him near my toddler.

  148. bilge says:

    PHL-STL is nearly always American Eagle or American Connection.

  149. Cap'n Jack says:

    @armour:
    @lbell:

    You guys need to read the article. The child was clearly out of control and throwing a fit on the floor. You can’t sacrifice everyone’s safety for the sake of one autistic child.

    Also, being autistic doesn’t mean none of the rules apply.

  150. Gokuhouse says:

    @vgerik1234: Are you retarded? The child was autistic! The poor kid has a mental condition. He will react very differently to people when he feels they are mad.

  151. battra92 says:

    @weehawk: I think autism is the new ADD. It sucks for the people who really have it but there are a lot I think are being over-diagnosed.

    By the way, isn’t there some kind of Mickey Finn they could’ve slipped this kid prior to getting on? I mean, I’m no advocate for drugging 2.5 year olds but I’m sure a doctor could’ve found some low dosage knock-out drug so he could sleep for a good 6 hours or so.

    God help those on the train. :(

  152. vgerik1234 says:

    @Gokuhouse: I guess he is crying at this whole website because saying your kid is autistic to get out of your responsibility to follow the rules is bad. The only reason this is on the news, like i stated before, is because hes “autistic”. In actuality, the chance of him really being autistic at 2.5yr old is 20-30% due to their brain has not developed enough to know any sense what so ever.

    Stop pointing me out on all the comments D: I was the first to state the obviousness that everyone else has stated after me. RTFA and stfu.

  153. vgerik1234 says:

    @vgerik1234: Given a proper diagnostic of being autistic***

    edit >_>

  154. Saboth says:

    @kathyl:

    Although the “new” style of parenting is to let your kids run around and do whatever the hell they want, and in extreme conditions, put them in “time out” (guffaw), in the REAL world, if you want to do certain things, you have to obey real rules. If this kid can’t conform to the rules of the airline, that are put there for everyone’s safety, then he doesn’t need to be flying. She can take a rental car and drive 800 miles. Although autism is an actual disorder, it doesn’t place people above having to follow rules…it isn’t *that* severe of a disorder.

  155. PHX602 says:

    @weehawk: I second these comments, and will add that Cary is an acronym — Containment Area for Relocated Yankees.

  156. You-Me-Us says:

    I’ve said many times I would gladly pay double to fly 21 & Over Airlines.

  157. IrisMR says:

    I think AA Did the right thing in a bad way. It was obvious they were rude bastards about it.

    It sucks for the mom and child but you know… It would be unbearable for everyone else.

  158. wring says:

    aaaaand teh child haters come out of the woodwork. i say she should’ve sedated the kid half an hour before the flight.

  159. Phreggs says:

    The airline here created the “uncontrollable” situation by forcing the seatbelt tighter. Instead of being asshats they could have had the mother resolve the problem, and off that unless she can do so in a period of time, they would be let off the plane.

    Instead of running over and tightening the seatbelt for a child, who clearly didnt want to be in the situation, they could have totally handled this in a professional matter.

    Wait, wait, wait, wait… Airline, non-professional behaviour is pretty much norm nowadays.

  160. mythago says:

    As somebody who COMMUTES by plane, I would rather deal with this kid that 90% of the a-holes on this thread. An autistic child can be calmed. A baby can be given a bottle. Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done about obnoxious adults. For every howling baby I’ve been on a plane with, I’ve had to deal with TEN jerkbags – you know, the guys who hog the armrest so that they’re elbowing you in the ribs, the bored person who forgot to bring a book so they chatter at you about YOURS instead of letting you read in piece; Mr. Has To Lean His Seat Back Into Your Lap….

  161. Pipes says:

    Allegedly, the flight attendant kept coming over and tightening the child’s seat belt.

    Fine…but WHY didn’t the mother calmly explain to the FA that the child was autistic, that strange people touching and yelling at him made him upset, and that the mother would be the one to adjust her son’s seat belt? Does that seem too much to ask? Did she not say anything during these alleged abuses the FA laid down on her?

    For the record…I flew from O’Hare to Cleveland-Hopkins last night. 44 minute flight. Child sitting RIGHT behind me, on his mother’s lap, banging on the tray table for a good 15 minutes until I turned around. Longest 44 minute flight in the entire world.

  162. Snullbug says:

    For those supporting the parent in this case, the attitude seems to be “since I have a child with a disability I have the right to make the lives of all those around me a living hell.” BZZZZZZZZT! Wrong. Air travel has become enough of a hellish experience without forcing all the other paying customers on this plane to a) face an unsafe situation with a potential child shaped missile loose in the cabin and b) to listen to screaming for the duration of the flight. Your child, your problem. If you lose control, expect someone else to exercise it.

  163. VersionQueen says:

    @anonymousryan:
    Yeah that’s one point of view. But what if the adult is the screaming raging asshole, should he be drugged too?

  164. VersionQueen says:

    @You-Me-Us:
    I agree with the idea of kid-friendly flights. They should be cheaper so if people don’t mind being befriended by a 4-year-old, they can fly. When traveling with my little guy, I always find it more interesting when he has people who he can talk to aside from his family.

  165. 00exmachina says:

    @HAL1300:
    Well let’s take your comment a step further
    -Based on most airlines policy since the child had special needs they were boarded first. So they have more time to get settled -That’s ADA compliant

    -The bag was on the floor in an area that did not have under seat storage. -Sorry the ADA does not trump safety regulations. I’m not going to guess what went down over that because of the 3 versions of any story rule, there’s the FA’s version, the mothers version, and how it actually went down.

    It seems like you have a bit of an unrealistic view of what the ADA grants, it grants equal access and sets penalties for discrimination. The access issue was covered, because the kid had a seat. The discrimination issue does not come into play, unless the FA or some other airline official stated that they would have to leave the plane because the child had autism. Leave because of a disturbance is ok, may not be right but it’s legal, Leave because of non compliance with safety issue, again legal but possibly not right depending on the other things that went down.

  166. Ex_EA_Slave says:

    On behalf of the other passengers on this flight, I would like to thank the flight crew for making this decision.

  167. darkryd says:

    Dude – the kid was wigging out and throwing a fit. Cmon – the lady should have known better than to put him on the plane.

  168. theora55 says:

    Every person in this thread calling the child a brat should be ashamed. The Mom did her best to travel with her child, but it wasn’t good enough. The airline staff sound like they handled it poorly, and lacked any semblance of kindness. Classic lose-lose situation.

    The ADA requires that airlines serve disabled people, but not at the expense of safety. Blind? You can’t sit in the exit row.

    I feel so sad for this parent and child, whose lives are made so much more difficult and painful by autism. Perhaps AA could find a way to compensate the family for the flight.

  169. richcreamerybutter says:

    @mxjohnson: Charge more for childless flights?

    It’s only about 25% an issue with the child (not their fault). Most of the fee is for the privilege of avoiding bad parents. Yes, I am one of the “drinkers,” but just as I limit my alcohol intake on a flight to 1 or 2 beverages, I do get the impression you and your child are probably good company on a plane.

    If the child has this kind of condition, and flying is only a rare exception, is it really a terrible solution to ask your doctor for a safe dosage of some calming meds?

  170. VersionQueen says:

    I feel bad for the mom too. It’s hard enough dealing with a non-autistic child on a flight. For all of you intolerant passenger types, a lesson in patience is in order. Chances are, you were that obnoxious kid that no on wanted on the flight at some point. Should your parents have stopped you from seeing your relatives? This selfishness is part of our problem in the world. See it from another person’s point of view. If someone had moved to help this poor woman, rather than condemn her for having given birth to an autistic baby, this situation would not have escalated the way it did.

  171. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    @theora55: Where in the article does it say the mom did ‘her best’? My impression from what we know is that this probably isn’t a true statement. We’re all jumping to conclusions here (me included), but so are you with that statement.

  172. rjgnyc says:

    situation 1: flight attendant tightens seat belt, sends child into rage, leaving parent unhappy and people on Consumerist suggesting they sue.

    situation 2: flight attendant doesn’t tighten seat belt, results in child getting harmed during take off, leaving parent unhappy and people on Consumerist suggesting they sue.

  173. SenorBob says:

    @theora55:
    Why in the world should the airline compensate these people? They could not follow the rules, so they were not allowed to fly. Period.

  174. rjgnyc says:

    @armour: It’s understandable that it’s a disability, and that they have no control over their condition, but if their actions put their health at risk in a situation which would hold the airline accountable, what else could the airline do? Go “Oh, it’s autism! Not my fault!”? Like we’d find that acceptable.

  175. baristabrawl says:

    I know that people in the airline industry abuse their power, I’ve seen it. Sadly, they don’t have any power and I think when the plane lands we should all line up and give them a swift kick in the ass.

    I think of the scene in Anger Management where Adam Sandler was on the plane.

  176. teapartys_over says:

    I watched the GMA video, and it did make me wonder about what kinds of parenting skills are involved here – does she ever put steps into place to try to be consistent and discipline the kid? She was complaining that they wouldn’t let him watch his DVD player – the child is 2 and a half, and autistic for christ sakes, and yet you let him watch DVDs on demand? Not healthy. I also noticed in the video that in front of his DVD player he had a box of sugar cereal. Autistic or not, when I see parents in public places giving their kids a DVD player to shut them up, I just think that’s going to come back to haunt you. And if your kid already has problems focusing or dealing, is that really such a good idea?

    When I see parents obviously trying to discipline their kids, but the kid is just young or disabled and having a meltdown, I understand and sympathize. It’s the ones who do nothing and let let them run all over, kick your seat endlessly, never say no and shove a DVD player in front of them or some shitty fast food in their mouths that I feel aren’t really doing their jobs correctly.

  177. richcreamerybutter says:

    Nature intended the frequency of a screaming child to signal the attention of a parent (which I imagine goes doubly for Autistic children).

    Do you remember the woman whose epileptic seizures were triggered by the sound of Mary Hart’s voice? Physical discomfort caused by kids’ screaming in a tiny, sealed cabin is not necessarily an unreasonable claim by “insensitive” people.

    If you know that your child is prone to screaming for whatever reason, how about investing in a tub of earplugs before the trip, in a effort of good faith to the people around you?

    Now, while I find it totally believable that American would not handle a situation in the best manner, what do you realistically do with any passenger who refuses to stay seated for takeoff? I have some wonderful, understanding flight attendant friends and they do indeed bend over backwards for the comfort of their passengers (I’ve seen them in action!).

  178. samurailynn says:

    @armour: Suspected terrorism is not the only reason for kicking people off the plane. It’s kind of like how the driver of a car is responsible for the lives of the people in the car. If someone refuses to wear a seatbelt in my car, I refuse to drive with them in it. On a plane, the flight crew is responsible for the safety of everyone on the plane – if you refuse to follow the safety rules, you get kicked off the plane.

  179. Prions says:

    @anonymousryan: Hope to god you’re kidding.

    But it sounds to me like the mom was pitching a fit because the flight attendant dare tell her to do anything she disagreed with (store bags, tighten seat belt etc…) The kid saw the mom screaming and he started to…

    I’ve taken care of autistic kids before…they don’t just start screaming for no reason.

  180. Froggmann says:

    Sorry guys, this one is a wash in my book. It’s a no-win situation.

    Mother with autistic kid, really what can she do? Unless flying is routine the child will act out. The only other option here would have been to sedate the child but no one really wants to do that.

    American, their goal is to get passengers from point A to point B at a profit. Flight attendants need to keep passengers calm. This child wasn’t and likely wasn’t going to be. They could either be the bad guy and kick a screaming kid off the flight or they could be the bad guy and put up with it causing all the other passengers greif. Trust me if it were the latter situation we would be reading about a horrible flight where an unruly child terrorized the passengers throughout the flight.

    Like I said No-Win. Granted this is likely a short hop flight it still would have likely been one of the longest flights the passengers and crew would have been on.

  181. Crymson_77 says:

    @kepler11: So kepler, since when does the ADA NOT apply to airlines? My understanding of the ADA is that it applies EVERYWHERE AT ALL TIMES. Or have you not read it? The Americans with Disabilities Act was not given a pass when a plane is involved.

    See: [www.ada.gov]

    Which covers specifically:

    ADA Regulation for Title III, as printed in the Code of Federal Regulations (7/1/94). The Department of Justice’s regulation implementing title III of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in “places of public accommodation” (businesses and non-profit agencies that serve the public) and “commercial facilities” (other businesses). The regulation includes Appendix A to Part 36 – Standards for Accessible Design establishing minimum standards for ensuring accessibility when designing and constructing a new facility or altering an existing facility.

  182. battra92 says:

    @theora55: Perhaps AA could find a way to compensate the family for the flight.

    Greyhound tickets.

  183. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I can see both sides but would like to point out that American Eagle planes are very small and cramped. The Embraer jets have 3 across seating (1 seat on one side of the aisle and 2 on the other) and very little headroom. It’s not a big comfy jet, its noisier than bigger jets and the pressurization on them always gives me ear problems. The pressurization kicks in way too fast when they close the door. I can see a child having problems and those around reacting in the small space.

  184. Riddler says:

    @Pithlit:
    “Wow. My son is mainstreamed in public school. I love the people who have worked with them, and can’t say enough good things about them. I can’t picture them jumping to conclusions and being so judgmental the way you and THE IT CRONE have.”

    I’m probably late, but I had the same thought about how cold and insensitive their comments were. I would expect such comments from individuals with zero knowledge about autism. I definitely wouldn’t expect such commentary from anyone who competently works with autistic children. My wife co-founded and co-directs a non-profit school for children with autism, and their waiting list is always packed due to the attitudes and inability of area public schools to provide (a) services for autistic children and (b) understanding and guidance for the parents. It seems that many public school districts (in my state at least) completely fail with this second component.

    It seems like a large number of parents of autistic kids are either on anti-depressants or getting a divorce. One could probably play “chicken or the egg” with that information, but I’ve hard time and time again that autistic children will tear a parent’s psyche apart for reasons just like the airplane incident. With a physical handicap or Down’s Syndrome, the handicap is obvious to the eye. With autism, the child looks just like every other kid in the world, and the parent is left looking like he or she has an inability or unwillingness to control their child. Based on many of the comments on this posting, I guess I can see that such parents aren’t living in paranoia. That is exactly what the “other people” on the plane or in the grocery store think of them.

  185. Jmatthew says:

    @Pithlit: I’ve worked with troubled kids before (managed group homes and did therapy with adolescents for 5 years until the lack of funding and insane politics drove me to nearly going insane myself) and it’s pretty easy to tell the parents that are really trying, the parents that are trying and being successful, and the parents that just don’t care and want someone else to take this problem away from them.

    And since kids are almost always awesome once you get to know and understand them, it’s pretty easy to utterly and completely hate the parents that don’t want their kids.

    As to the story at hand: Flying with kids is tough. Flying with a kid with special needs is really really tough. It takes a lot of preperation for both the parent and the kid, and sometimes it still doesn’t work.

    I wouldn’t hate on anyone, but I do think AA could have been more customer friendly and diplomatic about the whole thing.

  186. snazzycarrot says:

    What a terrible situation. The only way I see that it could have been reliably prevented, if sedatives are out of the question, was for the child not to have been taken on the flight. It’s probably good that the flight attendant provoked this outburst. If the child was sensitive enough to react this way to the attendants behavior, the child probably would have melted down because of something else later when the plane was already airborne. The airline did the only thing they could, really, whether they were as sensitive as they could have been or not

  187. Good. There should be special flights for families with children under a certain age. I can’t imagine how the rest of the flight would have gone.

    “AA has more to lose by discomforting the rest of their passengers by leaving the annyoing kid on the plane”

    “it might sound insensitive but if the child is a problem it should not fly.”

    “Having a kid doesn’t make you special and if the brat is annoying everyone on the plane then you don’t need to be flying.”

    EXACTLY.

  188. @Corporate-Shill: yeppers.

  189. Saboth says:

    @VersionQueen:

    Don’t get too worked up about the child being autistic. Some friends of mine had an autistic child, and my ex-gf worked with other autistic children on a daily basis. There are varying levels of it, but in general they simply have a hard time relating to others or communicating. They are not retarded, they are not sociopaths, stupid, or anything like that. In general they are just as intelligent as most people (in general they are even smarter than most), and they definately recognize right and wrong. It is no excuse for poor parenting.

  190. Shadowman615 says:

    I understand the need for the airline to remove them from the plane, and they did what they had to do. However, it seems like the flight attendant and crew were almost trying to make the kid freak out.

  191. tkozikow says:

    Unless they move out of Cary, RDU and AA are just about the only way out of dodge, so good luck with avoiding American on future air travel.

  192. Shadowman615 says:

    Wow, reading some of the other comments here, it looks like parents aren’t the only people with entitlement issues.

  193. Hogan1 says:

    @Xewleer:
    “The Air line is at fault for not understanding his problem. They should not have made him upset, or his mother upset. Seriously, it was really badly handled.”

    Because everyone can be easily trained to deal with ANY possible “problem” they might encounter…sure.

    I applaud the Airline for removing a disruption from the flight. It’s unfortunate that the child couldn’t fly but I would be pissed if I had to go through a flight with an out of control child.

  194. JoeTan says:

    Yeah, doesn’t matter the affliction. Disruption is disruption and a ride on American Airlines is bad enough without the yelling and screaming.

  195. erratapage says:

    The airline helped create this situation. I don’t blame the pilot for turning around, but this passenger needs to be well compensated for the failed flight. Clearly, the airline personnel were poorly trained in dealing with a special needs child. I don’t expect them to fly for any length of time under these circumstances, but I do expect the flight attendants to have sufficient training in dealing with children with special needs. Consider how common autism actually is… (or is it just me that knows so many people with autistic children?)

  196. SexierThanJesus says:

    Every time I feel my faith in humanity restored, I come to the Consumerist threads where people make fun of retarded kids and their parents….brings me back to my senses. Thanks guy.

  197. Fallom says:

    It’s a shame, but if the mother can’t control the child then he shouldn’t be flying. It’s the airline’s responsibility to make sure that all passengers are acting safely and not being disruptive. Also, I have to believe there was more than crying involved if they made the decision to turn the plane around. These decisions aren’t made nonchalantly, since they cost the company a large amount of money and cause the pilots a lot of hassle.

  198. @SexierThanJesus: The child was allegedly autistic, not “retarded.”

    I think we need to think about the good of the many here. Would it have been better to stay on the tarmac for hours while the mother attempted to get the child settled down? At one point do we take into account the other 100-200 people on the plane? Or the other 20 planes who can’t take off because of that delay? The missed connecting flights?

    I feel bad for the mother and the child but ultimately we owe it to everyone else on that flight to get it into the air on-time, safely, and (hopefully) quietly.

  199. Charred says:

    This is crap. The kid’s autistic. Have some compassion you bastards.

  200. Umisaurus says:

    I need to stop reading the comments. I have friends who don’t like kids — god, I’m not too fond of them myself at times, and I have one myself — but “crotchspawn”? “Poopdoll”? How are these comments constructive in the least?

    The Consumerist needs to adopt a ban policy similar to Jezebel’s, and fast.

    As someone who lived for eighteen years with an autistic (my little brother) and still acts as his caregiver, I symphatize with everyone in the article. The mother didn’t know how the child was going to react to new stimuli — there’s no way for certain she could have known that he was going to react quite like that on the plane. Maybe her son enjoys car and train rides, and she thought that this would be a piece of cake.

    The airline did all they could do in the situation. It wouldn’t have been fair to inconvenience the other passengers and delay the flight further. I don’t know if they handled it with kid gloves, asking politely if they could rebook the flight or refund their ticket, but I can only hope so.

    It’s as some others above noted earlier: there are no winners.

  201. fluf says:

    @anonymousryan: I agree! Air marshals should have tranquilizer guns handy at all times for just such occasions.

  202. swimmey says:

    @teapartys_over: Spare us the “DVDs ARE EVIL” rant. Most kids will calm and settle while watching a video, even really hyper ones. Have you ever visited a children’s hospital, pediatric dentist or other place where scary things are done to kids? TVs are EVERYWHERE. It’s because they WORK. They’re over the dentist’s chair, they’re in the room with the ultrasound machine. When my son had a brain MRI, they gave him VR goggles, headphones and his choice of movies. He chose “Godzilla.” Yeah, yeah, it’s fascist corporate Hollywood mind-erasing crap, but it kept him still in the MRI machine while they checked for brain bleeds.

    Sedatives create a paradoxical response in some kids — they make them nuts instead (sorta like how Ritalin calms ADD people even though it’s really speed). The DVD player was probably the best tool in this mom’s behavior modification toolbox, but of course she had to turn it off before takeoff.

    You have to keep pushing the envelope if you expect your child to learn and grow. You can’t know what they’re capable of, or what’s going to send them around the bend, until you try it. My son handled the opera at age 7 with great aplomb, but the circus? Forget it.

    Please remember that plenty of people forgave you YOUR sins when you were little.

  203. jimconsumer says:

    This is awesome. Good for that airline! I’m sorry, but I don’t give a crap if your kid is autistic. If he can’t keep quiet, he doesn’t need to be on the plane. Sorry. I know, it sucks that you and your kid got delt a bad hand with the autism, and I’m sympathetic, really I am, but that does not give you the right to make life miserable for all of the rest of us. It just doesn’t! You parents should not be taking your young children on flights! Sorry, but that’s it. Fucking deal with it.

    When my kids were little I didn’t take them on planes, I didn’t take them to movies, or out to fancy restaurants, etc, etc. Have some common fucking sense and good manners, people.

  204. 23221 says:

    To all of the parents of ‘special needs children’ who have made comments regarding the supposed assholery of those who would not wish to be confined aboard an aircraft for several hours with a child in serious meltdown mode:

    You complain that others are not properly sensitive to your (and your child’s) special needs and rights. All I can say in reply is, where exactly do you stand in regard to the equally valid needs and rights of those around you? You get what you give, and judging by the tone of many of your comments, it seems pretty apparent that the needs and rights of all others should give way to those of your child. News flash: you are not likely to encounter very cooperative attitudes from others when employing that attitude. Nuff said.

  205. Sanveann says:

    @jimconsumer: Some of us aren’t content to sit at home for our kids’ entire childhoods.

    No, I don’t think very tiny children belong at movies (other than kids’ movies) or expensive restaurants. But planes? They’re a way to get to Point A from Point B. My husband’s family is almost entirely in England … how the hell else are we supposed to get there to see them? Boat? Or are we just supposed to go years without seeing our family? (They couldn’t come to us, as they have a baby, too, and we wouldn’t want to subject anyone to THAT!)

    Incidentally, this isn’t a hypothetical — we DID go to England last month with our. And he was perfect, both on the way there and the way back. We received numerous compliments on how well-behaved he was.

  206. flightangel says:

    I am a veteran 20 year flight attendant. Airlines must accept all individuals with disabilities under the (ADA)Americans with Disabilities Act. It does not matter what the disability is, including Turrets Syndrom.You do not drug disabled people! Flight attendants were once trained to have compassion and be caring. Obviously these missed the class.Fire them today, they did not do thier job. The pilot, had no right to tell the passengers anything, ” We are returning to the gate”,period.He needs 8 weeks of sensitivity training. I hope the family sues and they will win, it is the law. My pilot husband of 25 years agrees.

  207. hi says:

    I don’t have kids but I know kids cry and if I’m on a plane with a kid who is crying I just ignore it. To the people on the plane who complain about such a thing: Stop crying.

  208. 23221 says:

    Nice try both of you, but it still doesn’t really answer my question.

  209. CrazyNyceDave says:

    Bill Mahr (take him or leave him) in one of his bits:

    “The FAA ruled today that parents can now bring baby bottles on commercial jets again due to a report that said 100% of all airline passengers would rather have their airplane blown up by Islamic terrorists and their burning bodies go crashing down to earth than sit on an airplane with a screaming child for 4 hours.”

  210. 23221 says:

    @CrazyNyceDave: LOL! You can bet damn sure that many of these parents are among the first to demand that their own comfort zones be respected when they travel, and would be among the first to throw a monumental hissy fit if they felt that weren’t the case. Being a parent endows a certain percentage of the population with a powerful sense of entitlement, I’ve generally found.

  211. Battle_of_Evermore says:

    I am going to have to side with the airlines with this. I have a few autistic friends and this stuff does happen. There can’t be the danger of a child throwing a tantrum. The mother should have talked to the doctor and taken every precaution in case something like this happened.

  212. r0ckaby3 says:

    He’s 2 1/2…where was the kid’s car seat? Last I checked, 3 years old was the age to move a kid to a belt positioning booster, so why wasn’t he strapped in to his 5 point harness car seat? Mom didn’t want to lug it to the gate? Tough cookies, there are plenty of gadgets to help you roll the thing through security and down the terminal.

    Additionally, I suspect the car seat would have provided a sense of security to the child and made it less likely that American Eagle staff would have had to intervene. As in, he wouldn’t have been throwing a tantrum that caused safety issues for himself and others.

  213. Zatnikitelman says:

    I have read most of the comments on here and have to say DID ALIENS SURGICALLY REMOVE YOUR HUMANITY!? Side with the airlines? For harassing the kid and mom, then giving them both the boot in the behind?

    What they should have done is asked NICELY for the mother to calm the child down by the time the plane reaches the runway (holding short position in pilot talk) and if he is still presenting a safety risk, then have a moveable stairway brought to the door, gently and nicely escort the mother and child down to an airport bus or other ground vehicle to be taken back to the terminal. All told, it’s maybe a 2 minute delay for the rest of the passengers and airport.

    It sounds like they had to make a complete about face, and run the engines all the way back to the gate. Planes don’t move with motors in their wheels, they have to inefficiently burn fuel to move the plane along the ground, then either top off what was needlessly lost, or fly with less fuel which isn’t good.

    Continuing with the mother and child, AA could have then helped them book a later flight hoping the child will be calmer, or arrange for alternate transportation altogether (Amtrak FTW!!!).

    Taking this another way, if the child was no longer posing a safety hazard once the plane was holding short, but still pitching a fit, then the passengers can deal with it. They already deal with smaller-then-Mercury-space-capsule-sized-seats douchebags strip-searching them at the ‘Gate, a screaming kid is not that big of an annoyance. Not to mention the short-distance of this particular flight.

  214. vladthepaler says:

    If I’m stuck on the plane with a screaming baby, I couldn’t care less about why the baby is crying. Get the baby off the plane. Especially if the plane’s still on the ground, but even if it’s not.

  215. 23221 says:

    @Zatnikitelman: My humanity consists in being human enough not to want to be trapped in a confined space with an hysterical child for an hour+, and also being human enough not to be such a hypocrite that I can’t admit to that. No matter how holier-than-thou you want to get about it, the fact remains that the child was a SAFETY HAZARD to himself and everyone else on that plane, and needed not to be on board. I don’t care how ‘special’ he is, his ‘specialness’ does not confer a right to pose a hazard to others.

  216. Zatnikitelman says:

    @23221: Since when did I ever confer that he should continue to pose a hazard to anyone? If you actually read my post instead of looking at the first sentence or so, then you’d realize that the proper solution would have been to gently escort them off the plane AT the end of the Taxi. If the mom had gotten the kid quiet by then, all the better everyone leaves on time, if not, then they get off the plane there, and are taken back to the terminal where they can rebook, or go find a train station or something.

  217. adventure-lass says:

    There’s no heck like a 12 hour international flight with not one but two crying children keeping everyone awake.

    I’m sorry, but I would rather get off the plane and miss my flight than have to put up with a misbehaving kid on an airplane.

  218. BlackBeauty-30 says:

    I am a flight attendant for another carrier, and always find it interesting to hear passengers’ viewpoints on the everyday operations of an airline. Of course, I certainly cannot speak for what another carrier’s policies and procedures are, but disruptive children always present the potential for there to be an explosive misunderstanding between crew and parent; particularly for a child with special needs.

    As a crew member, you always feel that you are stuck between angry passengers who want you to “do something about that kid!!!” and the parent who desperately wants nothing more than their child to settle down themselves. If a child (or anybody else) refuses to stay in their seat, it is against FAA regulations to continue moving on an active taxiway (e.g. as soon as the front entry door is closed until it is opened again). The fine for the airline is $5000 AND the fine for the negligent flight attendant is $5000… PER INCIDENT (if the agent is just a real you-know-what).

    In this day and time when the Feds are particularly hard on the airlines, we frequently have agents who travel for leisure or are required to tell us ahead of time they will be monitoring our flight.

    And just as a note, if there is no seat in front of you (i.e. in front of the bulk head esp. the very first row) ALL of your things, purses included, MUST be placed over head. Any loose items left on the floor by your feet is a $500 fine per item found unsecured to your crew member. I know different rules apply to different carriers, dictated by the verbiage in their contract with the FAA to operate commercial flights; this is what is charged to the carrier for which I work.

    We’re not being witches, we just can’t afford to pay fines for not doing our jobs! And we never know who’s watching…