Monday, May 11, 2015

Limits of accomodation?: Autistic girl removed from flight for being disruptive

Fox 12

A Tigard family says they were kicked off a plane mid-flight this week because of a misunderstanding with their autistic daughter.

The family tells FOX 12 this happened on Tuesday night, when they were flying on a United Airlines flight from Orlando to Portland.

Donna Beegle says it all began when she noticed her autistic daughter Juliette, 15, was getting hungry.

Beegle says her daughter wouldn't eat the snacks they brought for her on board the plane, and knew she needed food right away to avoid a meltdown.

“I asked the flight attendant if they had anything hot, because Juliette is very particular about her food,” said Beegle. “If it's warm she won't eat it, if it's cold she won't eat it, it has to have steam rolling off of it.”

Beegle says she was told that warm meals could only be served to first class.

“The flight attendant said, ‘there's not anything we can get you,' so I said, ‘well how about we wait for her to have a meltdown, and start crying and she tries to scratch, and then you'll want to help her.'”

After that, Beegle says her daughter started getting fussy.

That's when she says that flight attendant reluctantly brought her a hot meal from first class, and she calmed right down.

Beegle says things seemed fine after that, until the plane made an emergency landing in Utah. Police walked on board and headed straight toward her family, according to Beegle.

“Police officers said ‘we have to ask you to leave the plane,'” said Beegle. “I asked them ‘why?' and they said, ‘the captain doesn't feel comfortable flying to Portland with your daughter on the flight.'”

The family says they left puzzled and hurt by it all. [...]

United Airlines issued this statement to FOX 12 about the situation:
“After working to accommodate Dr. Beegle and her daughter during the flight, the crew made the best decision for the safety and comfort of all of our customers and elected to divert to Salt Lake City after the situation became disruptive. We rebooked the customers on a different carrier and the flight continued to Portland.”


  1. so I said, ‘well how about we wait for her to have a meltdown, and
    start crying and she tries to scratch, and then you'll want to help

    Right there is the reason they were removed them from the flight. Threatening mayhem if they don't get their way.

  2. I have heard several stories about people ordered off flights for the whimsical pleasure (or negligence) of flight attendants. They have the power post 9-11, and don't hesitate to use it. (I'm not talking about wearing leather straps in one's seat. That's a lie, cause flight attendants all over the world know to give me the kitchen / galley at an appropriate time without my even asking, just based on my kosher meal request, and my baseball cap or whatever i'm wearing.)

    The problem is airlines are afraid of starting up with their low level employees, since they pay them very poorly nowadays, so the airlines appease them by giving them this power of throwing people off a flight.

  3. My 2¢. The mother indicated that the girl was capable, and on the verge, of going on a scratching campaign. Or as Kishkeyum puts it, "mayhem".

    Terrorists sometimes do practice runs to determine vulnerabilities in security. Not the case here, but could have been. Terrorists sometimes set up a distraction. And this family had certainly become a distraction. The attendant was probably wondering what threat would come next.

    There was no indication in the story that the family was removed solely, or at all, because the attendant requested it. The impetus for the unscheduled landing is attributed to the pilot's decision.

  4. technically its always the pilot.
    he is the "captain of the ship."
    there's no indication he looked into the matter at all; he just deferred to the stewardess's statements.


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