What should have been a short 20-minute flight from Nantucket, MA, to Boston ended up being a much longer ferry ride for one family after they were removed from a JetBlue flight after an incident involving their 13-year-old daughter with autism.
CBS 21 talked to the parents, who say they requested that all three members of their group be seated together on the JetBlue flight.
“I said we have a little girl with autism,” recalls the mom. “We need to be together. She said I can put two of you together.”
And so the mom and daughter were placed in the rear of the plane, with dad located around 10 rows ahead of them. They claim this separation caused their daughter to begin to cry and refuse to buckle her seatbelt.
“To her, he had gone off the plane,” explains the mom. “She can’t talk, she uses an iPad and a little bit of sign language, so she couldn’t say anything.”
The mom says the pilot then came back and stated that the daughter needed to buckle her seatbelt, but by then she says her daughter was “in total meltdown.”
Unable to calm the daughter, the mom says the pilot instructed the family to leave the plane because their child was “a potential danger to other passengers.”
Without a plane to take them to Boston, the family ended up taking a taxi to the ferry and then a bus to finally get to Boston. When it came time to return home to the Baltimore area, they chose to rent a car.
“There’s no way I was getting back on another plane,” explains the mom.
After complaining to JetBlue, the family did get an apology and vouchers for future travel, but those are useless, they say, because they have no intention on flying with the airline again. The mom has written to the airline’s CEO to request a full refund, and hopes this incident highlights what she sees as the crew’s inability to handle families with special-needs children.
“They’re probably going to say they already do that,” says the mom, “but I think they need to do more.”