Seems American Airlines screwed up by refusing to let Bede Vanderhorst fly

Interesting article here about a lawsuit being brought against American Airlines after they refused to let a family board a plane because, according to the airline, their kid was “excitable, running around, and not acclimated to the environment.”

Joan and Robert Vanderhorst says it’s discrimination because they were flying first class and their kid, Bede, has Down Syndrome. The family told reporters that the airline thought their kid so close to the cockpit might distract the pilot. Personally, I wonder how the pilot could be overly distracted – aren’t they supposed to keep the cockpit door closed?

Eventually, American called airport police to intervene — and the family was booked on a later United Airlines flight. The Vanderhorsts ended up flying economy and say they were not refunded for their upgrade fee, which they were never able to take advantage of. In addition, they say that when they flew United they had to sit in the back and no one was allowed near them.

There’s a video. When you follow that link I give you above, there’s a news video and that contains a cell phone video the mom took. The American Airlines official is telling them they can’t board because Bede is a security risk. Meanwhile the kid is sitting there, better behaved than most airline passengers, calmer than most airline passengers.

If I believe what I see in the video, I have to believe American Airlines is lying. The kid looks like he’d be a great airline passenger. American says he was running around but that’s not what I see. I suppose it’s possible that Bede was misbehaving at some point but with the video evidence, I think American Airlines has another well-deserved public relations fiasco on their hands, not to mention a lawsuit they are likely to lose.

Personally, I would love to see this lead to an apology from American (which they probably owe to 90% of their passengers but we can start with Bede) and a change in policy. It seems that people can get kicked off flights for random, stupid reasons because there is no coherent policy.

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