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Information on News of Passengers Denied Boarding in Phoenix

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There have been many news stories over the last two days regarding a family that was denied boarding on a Southwest Flight out of Phoenix on Friday, July 4, 2008, owing to unruly behavior onboard their previous flight.   


Over the course of a four-hour flight from Detroit to Phoenix, our Flight Crew developed a genuine concern for the well-being of children involved in this particular situation.  Our Crew exhausted all of their resources to resolve the situation, but it became clear them that they needed to address the situation before it escalated further – a concern that has since been echoed in a police report and by other passengers that were onboard the flight.   
 
The family’s interaction with authorities in Phoenix prevented our Employees from communicating with them in order to offer other travel options and accommodations; however, we contacted them yesterday and are refunding the entire cost of their tickets.  
 
Southwest Airlines carries countless numbers of families each year without incident, and is successful in assisting parents to follow Federal rules and guidelines onboard.  Ultimately, we are responsible for the Safety of all of our passengers, even the passengers whose behavior appears to jeopardize that Safety.  
 
 ***UPDATE***

I certainly understand many of the feelings expressed below regarding children with Autism; however, it is important to understand that this situation was not related to the fact that a child has Autism.   The issue was related to the Safety of our Customers, and, as stated in the post above, a genuine concern for the well-being of children involved.

It is unfortunate that these situations get played out in the media – the facts of the story are never presented in their entirety. And, the truth is, it is neither appropriate nor desirable for us as a Company to promote the details to the general public as we would never want to publicly criticize or embarrass our Customers. 

We value all of our Customers and begin every day and every flight with the desire for each person to have a wonderful experience with us. When circumstances prevent that from happening, we try to address those situations in the most responsible and respectable manner possible. 

Although this situation was not related to a child having autism, I assure you that Southwest Airlines is committed to providing courteous and efficient service to all of our Customers with disabilities and assisting them in a manner consistent with federal law and Company procedures. 


40 Comments
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With Autism affecting so many children world-wide, I do hope that Southwest and other airlines find more appropriate measures to handle situations like these. I view the airline's actions as a form of discrimination and I hope the family has enough smarts to sue their pants off. Apparently, Southwest is not aware of Autism - with it, comes unruly behavior that cannot be helped. Again, I do hope the family contacts the Office of Civil Rights in their state for further action. After all, what's next?? Crying infants to be booted?? Just sick.
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As a parent of a child with autism, I find these increasing stories disturbing. There is an epidemic of autism in this country and you are going to find flights with these children as passengers on a regular basis. Their behaviors are not just of a behavior basis they are of a medical basis so removing them from the plane is discrimination. If the flight attendants only had to ask twice to try and quiet down, I do not see how they exhausted all of their efforts to resolve the situation without resorting to kicking them off the plane. I suggest you quickly bring on some training staff to teach your flight attendants how they might be able to help in a situation like this. As well as letting the other passengers understand that a child with autism is on board so he/she might be prone to letting out a little more noise than the norm. Once people are aware of the diagnosis they are much less likely to insult the parenting of a so called "behavior child". With a possible 1 in 67 children effected with autism (per Dr. Yazbak-from looking at school enrollment data), you cannot consider kicking them all off your plane. Unfortuanately autism, and it's cause, has been ignored by the government and medical community so long, that avioding autism is an impossibility. Have tools on board to distract these kids. Just as a restaurant has crayons and coloring books, the airline has to adjust. Society can not have become that uncaring and selfish to not adjust to a devistating disorder affecting children. That would be incredibly sad...
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as a parent of a child with autism I was alarmed to read this report. what if its me next time? I have suffered through my fair share of other people's offenses on airlines - to wit, fat people sitting on me because they can't fit in their own seat (was I compensated? NO), smelly people, sick people coughing on me or my belongings, crying babies, farting !, spilling food or drinks on me, babies with DIRTY DIAPERS whose parents don't see fit to change them, even small DOGS making noise in the seat next to me - were these people banned from their connecting planes? NO. I am disgusted and outraged that regular paying passengers like myself are asked to put up with ALL of this but these people - who are probably the most outraged of all by the kids' behavior - are not in turn expected to put up with a special needs kid or two. Mom to 2 ASD kids, NC and Formerly a Southwest Passenger
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I think you did the right thing, parents need to be responsible for the actions of their children... and before anyone jumps up and down, my brother has autism, and mom was able to work with it so as to not make it everyone elses problem. I fly regularly, and if I find kids to be unruly, I let the flight attendent know, as well as the parents. I will bet that the parents clamped down on the kids on the next flight, but we will not hear anything about that in the press.
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I hope this family sues you under the American's with disabilties act. Our children deserve to be treated with respect and no family deserves to be abandoned in another state. I personally will do my best to never give you my hard in money. I only support companies who are compliant with the American's with disablities act.
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I certainly understand your feelings regarding children with Autism; however, it is important to understand that this situation was not specifically related to the fact that a child has Autism. The issue was related to the Safety of our Customers, and, as stated in the post above, a genuine concern for the well-being of the children involved. It is unfortunate that these situations get played out in the media – the facts of the story are never presented in their entirety. And the truth is, it is neither appropriate nor desirable for us as a Company to promote the details to the general public as we would never want to publicly criticize or embarrass our Customers. We value all of our Customers and begin every day and every flight with the desire for each person to have a wonderful experience with us. When circumstances prevent that from happening, we try to address those situations in the most responsible and respectable manner possible. Again, while I understand the heart of your concerns, please know that we are sensitive to the needs of all our Customers, but Safety must always remain our top priority. Paula Berg Southwest Airlines
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If The Crew warned them and they were still acting out on the plane something had to be done. If that means refusing to board them on another flight by all means they have to do it.
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Quite frankly, I am confused by the assumptions that this is an autism issue. There were three other children and two adults in the group. I have watched and read several accounts of this incident, and all of them talk about behavioral problems with multiple children and with the adults. The autistic child was definitely not the only behavioral problem, and quite possibly was not a problem at all. Without having been there, there is no way to know.
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"a concern that has since been echoed in a police report and by other passengers that were onboard the flight" - Gimme a break SWA. If a kid stunk up a plane with a dirty diaper the passengers would support ejection. Has we swung too far in the name of "safety" when a rowdy kid behind a locked door is somehow a threat to the flight? I'm guessing this was a case of the kids getting on everyone's nerves. Well that is life deal with it. At the rate autism is going up you may go out of business if you don't figure something out quick on this one.
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I can tell you that as a parent of an autistic child - we are constantly attacked by others who think these are behavior issues, the result of poor parenting, or are controllable with a little more effort. I personally have attended parenting classes and taught the teachers a thing or two. I have read so many books, I have used every technique, the fact is - these are behaviors that are caused by biological imbalances and they are not controllable. As such, no matter how hard a parent tries - no matter what is done - no matter how bad the child feels - some times it is just not possible to have the child perform on cue. The age of these kids was not mentioned - let me add that the older (and bigger) these kids get the harder it is for the parent to control them. Keep in mind that a person can be referred to as a child until they are 18 years old in this country. An adult who is at the end of the rope themselves with dealing with the behavior, gets little to no help from people who are supposed to help, but on top of that gets attacked for poor parenting and uncontrollable children when that is not the case, but yet still forced to deal with it may in a moment of panic and distress lash out - I have experienced this myself as people whose jobs are to provide assistance have ignored the needs of my child, ignored my requests for help (often simple things like cup of water or having a seat to sit in or a different color crayon for god's sake), and in fact whose behavior has contributed to the rapidly deteriorating situation. We don't know whether the flight attendants ignored information provided by the parent, we don't know if they tried to talk over the parent or intimidate the parent. These things are picked up on by the kids - autistic kids can be very sensitive to emotions. The US Government has traditionally financially supported the airline industry - with taxpayer money - as the transportation method of choice for ALL of its people. Airlines are favored over trains and buses. I don't think the government looks at subsidized ticket prices as "buying peace and quiet" but rather "transportation." If people want to buy "peace and quiet" - they should not buy the low cost ticket but rather get FIRST CLASS or BUSINESS CLASS or whatever its called these days. Also - there are private jets if you really want to buy "peace and quiet." This is like comparing a bus ticket to a stretch limo. I'm sorry but if you buy the bus ticket which is intended for transportation, then don't expect the peace and quiet of a limo ride. What is the solution you ask? As far as I know, there are currently no special handicap seating arrangements on Southwest planes for passengers who need them. Maybe not on any airline. That would be a solution for lots of ills. Just think: the elderly, handicapped, obese and other categories of special needs people may just need extra space, a little more care and some attention. Why don't airlines have to provide this kind of seating? It makes as much sense as the requirement for having handicap parking spaces. There is a formula for how many of those must be provided; why not the same for airline seats? Buses have these areas. It costs the same to ride, but passengers needs can be accommodated.
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I saw this story on the news. Although I have sympathy for parents whose children have health problems, why should their unruly behavior be inflicted on others who have no escape. The fact that the children cannot help it does not make a difference in the end result. There are many transportation options available in this day and age. If you know you are going to be in tight quarters for a long period of time and that your children may not have the capacity to sit quietly, perhaps another mode of transportation would be a smart choice? Airline employees must put safety ahead of politics and political correctness. And when the other passengers cannot escape the disturbance while thousands of feet in the air, then what about their rights??!!! It is unfortunate that some people cannot properly behave in all circumstances. Perhaps they should plan their participation in such circumstances a bit more carefully. I think Southwest Airlines handled the situation correctly. I will continue to be a Southwest customer!
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there are rules on the plane and if you cant follow them dont fly, im sorry the world doesnt revolve arond you. there are other people on the plane too and if i was sitting next to those people for hours on the flight i would be mad. quit being a bunch of babies and be responsible for your actions.
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Planning a plane ride with an autistic child would be alot easier to do if the airlines provided appropriate seating and attendants.
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In response to ... "Planning a plane ride with an autistic child would be a lot easier to do if the airlines provided appropriate seating and attendants." I don't mean to be confrontational or flip, but I wonder what is fair? I am sure that Southwest, or any other airline, would allow you buy multiple seats to have more room and to use one of those extra seats for a special care-provider if you wanted bring one. But is it fair for you to expect an airline to provide extra space and extra care for the same price they charge people who do not needs those extras? Should the cost of those extra services be passed on to the people who did not use extra space or services, or should the person consuming those extra services pay their full cost. What would be fair?
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The family was kicked off for unacceptable behavior, not because their son had autism. If any child, autism or not was flying with unacceptable behavior and would not follow directions from the crew, that family too would be kicked off. So stop blowing this out of proportion and call southwest discriminatory against people with autism because that is not what this about.
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I have flown on many airlines with my severely autistic son. Southwest will not be be added to the list - ever. We have had nothing but understanding, compassion and professional concern for our situation from all of these airlines (British Airways, United, American, US Air to name a few). That even includes an incident when my son removed his diaper (without us seeing it) and throwing it several rows to the front. Shame on you Southwest. Train your personnel to recognize and respond appropriately to persons with autism. With 1 out of 150 children currently being diagnosed with autism, you will be increasingly confronted with similar situations. Luckily we have the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure that you meet your obligations.
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The primary purpose of the crew is the safety of the passengers and the aircraft. I understand some of the comments here, but as a passenger I appreciate the efforts to maintain a safe flight. I would want it no other way.
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All people are responsable for there actions! No matter whom they are or what there state of mentalaty. If we do not make our children responsable they never will be. I have lived with and know children who have these issues, and everyone can learn. Some are better behaved than a lot of adults. We need our old values back!
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The joy of blogs...people getting all uptight in a public forum. No matter WHAT the condition of a child is...the parents are responsible for the actions, behaviors, etc. of that child. When are WE going to GROW UP and stop pointing blame to others. Take responsbility for OUR own actions and take responsiblity for our children's actions. I have a niece who has multiple handicaps (from mental to physical) and can be quite a handful, often! She travels well but they key (after much experimentation) is to get a seat right next to the wing or the back of the plane, whatever is closest to the engines. She loves the sound and it distracts her for hours. It was the first trip for this family so perhaps they haven't figured it out yet but Southwest was correct in trying to mitigate it's risk to other passengers, etc. Of all the airlines, I think SWA is the most reasonable of all...in every issue. Empowerment of it's employees to act means the voice of reason will prevail. GO SOUTHWEST! To those who have autisic children...check out why this biological imbalance is there...mercury poisoning. We've seen sucess with mecury detox programs in several children we know. They will be able to fly again once that's fixed...
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I agree with the actions of the Airline. When your child has disabilities you need to know their limits. Apparently this mother did not. Everybody is declaring SUE THE AIRLINE! However, how many people would be crying if the uncontrolled children managed to open the emergency exit door during flight or caused harm to another passenger. The woman needs to learn her childs limits and not push them over it. A caring mother of an autistic child should not have subjected her child to social and emotional stress that they were obviously under. SUE THE MOTHER FOR ABUSING HER CHILD IN THIS MANNER!
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First, it is not legal for an airline or any company to charge disabled people or minorities MORE money than they charge everybody else. Autism IS a disability even though some people writing into defend Southwest do not seem to understand that. Disabled people are members of a protected class under the law. Obesity is not a protected class in and of itself; so simply being fat does not qualify as a handicap - unless the person also has a qualifying disability. Second, people with mental challenges are NOT held responsible for their actions under our laws. Why do you people think there is "not guilty by reason of mental defect" - "incompetent to stand trial" - or "crime of passion" types of defenses to CRIMES? Here, the family did not commit any crimes. They merely inconvenienced the crew and other passengers. It says they were "unruly" - not trying to hijack the plane or throw people out the emergency doors. THEY SIMPLY DID NOT ACT IN THE EXPECTED MANNER. Third, I have chelated my son to remove mercury and other heavy metals. It is dangerous and frankly can make things worse if not done properly. Who are you to give medical advice? Are you licensed, are you experienced with all of these people reading this? It's not a one-size-fits-all solution, as autism has many causes. There are other additives in vaccines which also induce damage, such as aluminum, aborted fetal tissue, monkey kidney, antifreeze, just to name a few. The vaccines themselves may cause autism - due to overloading the immune system. Injecting 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or more infectious agents into a child at once can do crazy things to the body's ability to handle stressors. Some of these infectious agents can lead to brain infections. Also - don't forget that there is some plausability for inheritable autism. That kind of autism will not respond to chelation, because it is not caused by heavy metals. Finally - parents who refuse to allow others to mistreat their disabled children ARE taking responsibility.
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Does anyone wonder if this family were traveling for a medical appointment, I wonder - I often read about families traveling coast to coast or internationally to seek treatment for these kids. How do you think they get there??? These parents are working and supporting themselves, their kids - possibly OTHER kids than the ones with autism, and paying the same taxes and expenses that you do. But the problem is that many of the effective treatments for autism are not covered by insurance, they are not provided by the school system or early intervention, and they are not provided by Medicaid if the family is lucky enough to get on that. Do you really think it is fair and equitable to these parents who are making the effort despite the financial costs - to have to take off even more time from work to have to drive? Its not ok to strip these families of their right to choose how to be transported simply because one member of the family inconveniences others.
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tHIS IS IN RESPONSE TO : Mom to 2 ASD kids, NC and Formerly a Southwest Passenger You are a sensationalist, I wonder if you've ever even flew Southwest, because your stories seem a little over the top to me, I think you are mad and trying to scare Southwest with your "FORMALLY A SOUTHWEST PASSENGER" comment. You stated that you have been on flights with all kinds of crazy scenarios, so your really travel that often with 2 ASD children? Even if you do I find it hard to believe all of that happened to one person it seems fairly unlikely (unless you have some extremely bad karma!), given that I fly very reguaraly and have not encountered what you claim to have encountered. And dogs on planes? Not on Southwest so you claims seem a little stretched to put it nicely. On top of all of that you seem to be believe that this is about a child with autism, but it's not it's about an unruly family that happens to a child with autism. You are the one discriminating. This is the psot I'm referring to: "as a parent of a child with autism I was alarmed to read this report. what if its me next time? I have suffered through my fair share of other people's offenses on airlines - to wit, fat people sitting on me because they can't fit in their own seat (was I compensated? NO), smelly people, sick people coughing on me or my belongings, crying babies, farting !, spilling food or drinks on me, babies with DIRTY DIAPERS whose parents don't see fit to change them, even small DOGS making noise in the seat next to me - were these people banned from their connecting planes? NO. " I am disgusted and outraged that regular paying passengers like myself are asked to put up with ALL of this but these people - who are probably the most outraged of all by the kids' behavior - are not in turn expected to put up with a special needs kid or two. Mom to 2 ASD kids, NC and Formerly a Southwest Passenger Anonymous — Wed, 07/09/2008 - 10:22
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Air travel is not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as a few people here have claimed. The Air Carrier Access Act is in place to ensure that people with disabilities are treated fairly while using American carriers. You can read a summary of it here: http://www.disabilitytravel.com/airlines/air_carrier_act.htm The ACAA does state: "Carriers may not refuse transportation to people on the basis of disability. Airlines may exclude anyone from a flight if carrying the person would be inimical to the safety of the flight."
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It is amazing how everyone has an opinion to how things should have happened when you were not there. SWA does not go out of their way to displace people in the middle of travel. They are in buisness to make a profit, and would not be able to do so if they were leaving people stranded for no reason. Several thousand feet in the air is not the place to deal with rowdy unruly people. If parents or people are so concerned with the treatment that they are recieving, charter a private jet. Then you and your family can behave in anyway you please. Actions bring reactions that is the way life works. Disability or no disability you dont have the right to behave unruly. Their money was refunded, just because you purchase a ticket does not give you the right to behave in any manner. Autism is a serious condition, no one is disputing that. Having a disability does not mean that you can go about daily life with out regard to fellow man. People are so sue happy, and quick to tell someone what classes they should take to be sensitive to the needs of other people. Get real. It is a shame that this has been exploited this way. The world doesn't work that way. The cost to do extra training would be passed on to you as a customer and not everyone should have to pay for your extra needs.
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Southwest did the right thing. Autism, Cerebral Palsy, or whatever the developmental disorder, it is the parent/guardians responsibility to keep the child in order, not the airlines. The airline's responsibility is to safely transport the passengers to their destination. The family was denied boarding because the children were unruly not because of their medical conditions. The mother's own admission: “The children were out of control on the flight you know, they were restless, excited and worked up and they are kids,”. I certainly hope Southwest does NOT do the typical corporate thing and apologize when they did nothing wrong.
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Kudos to Southwest for thinking of the safety and comfort of the other passengers on this flight. The media is always happy to get a scoop where they can take a few pieces of facts and distort them to make up a sellable juicy story. Autism or not, the bottom line is that these kids interferred with the job of these flight attendants therefore jeopardizing the safety of everyone on that plane. Their work enviroment is not the place to be dealing with unruly passengers, children or adults. While I am saddened that these children and their parents have to deal with this terrible disease all their lives, they cannot expect for the rules to be tossed away and ignored. I was on a flight from Washington to Frankfurt, Germany once and a child cried the entire 9 hours. Somewhere over eastern Canada it got so bad that the captain threatened to turn the aircraft back to Dulles It was a miserable flight and I felt so badly for the mother and child and for the passengers seated around them. Perhaps the mother could have made the decision not to have travelled that day. The child was crying in the boarding gate and appeared to be ill. I've experienced this same behavior many many times while eating out. At times, parents seem to be so oblivious to the fact that their children are ruining nice evenings for others. This happens at church, movies, etc. But in an aircraft at 30,000 feet is no place for the attention of the attendants and flight crew to be messed with. I feel that Southwest and other airlines are completely correct in expecting passengers to behave on flights and I also feel that the airlines are completely justified in removing them when they don't. This comment is not meant to be mean-spirited. It is still a privilege to be able to afford an airline ticket and to travel by this means. It is not a right.
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If this autistic child had been running around(when the seat belt light is on) and been injured by turbulance, how many of you would be blaming SW for not makeing the child sit? The flight attendants are there to help maintain a safe environment for everyone, children running around is not safe, for the kids or the passengers they may be thrown into inthe case of turbulance. Those who think FA should be trained on how to deal with autisim, who should pay for this, what kind of training should it be? Ultimatly the PARENTS need to be responsible and accountable for there childs behaviour, especially when the SAFTEY of the kid and others is involved. Based on the info available to the public it sounds like it was not only the autistic child but the nuerotypical kids as well. Based on that SW did what was right for the saftey of all involved and appears to have done nothing discriminatory.
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Can you please tell me how a child can "remove and throw his diaper" without a parent knowing? Especially when the parent knows their child has a physical/emotional problem. Talk about accepting responsibility. I don't think most people would be very forgiving of this kind of action.
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Like other posts, I agree with Southwest's stance on this issue and agree that it is related to behavior, not a medical, physical, or emotional disorder/condition/handicap. I remember two flights in the past few years where lack of responsiblity caused some issues. Two kids with wooden shoes flying back with Grandma from Amsterdam to Detroit - thunk, thunk, clog, clog, clack, clack and tromping around the airplane for 4 hours straight. Grandma is just relaxing...the flight attendants suggested the kids sit down and quiet down. Eventually it escalated and we were warned that we were going to divert due to unruley children...suddenly they were sitting in their seats and quite. I guess Grandma wanted to get home! The other interesting time was on an international flight heading to Europe. A gentleman one row in front of me was talking about how the plane crash statistics were crazy, how long a plane "glides" before it hits the ocean floor, etc. Needless to say he was causing concern with first time fliers and others. They asked him to stop (captain) and you could tell he had been drinking too...they eventually boarded the whole plane and then after repeated attempts to have him settle down...called security and pulled him off the plane. Concern for the majority and the safety and comfort of the other passengers prevailed. The point: minimize risk before it becomes a real issue. That is what Southwest did, kudos!
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I am just curious how a child removes a diaper and throws it several rows in front of you and you did not even see it? how well were you paying attention to your special needs child? some people with disabilities, just cannot do everything. blind people want to see. deaf people want to hear. sometimes "no" just has to happen. you can say no. cars are an alternative if your child doesn't behave...whether due to a disability or not. i saw a man removed off of a roller coaster because he was too tall. i wonder if he sued six flags for that? if your child is disruptive, why should i or anyone else on that plane have to be subjected to that? what about my rights? sorry your child is ill. i am sorry all of the children, including my nephew, who has autism. it's horrible. my brother is bi-polar. I WOULD NEVER FLY with either of them. I would not take a chance with either one. do you suggest the airline kick eveyrone else off of the plane to allow the child and parent to continue? would that make you happy? then everyone else kicked off would/could sue the airline for that, and the parent too. just because you have a disability, does not mean you should be entitled to everything on a silver platter. most people do not even want to be treated differently. you can only try to please most of the people. I applaud SW for looking out for the majority of the people. SW has been known for doing the right thing.
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As one of the merciless commentators regarding SWAs inspections incident earlier in the year, so merciless that even Brian Lusk replied, I must thank SWA for their handling of this recent incident. It was with class to the family, and to the benefit of the cooperating passengers seeking a safe flight. In fact, I believe that SWA handled this with so much class, that I will be booking a flight on SWA in a couple days! (And maybe a couple more later in the year if all goes well). Chuck N
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FOR CHRIST SAKE, THIS ISN'T AN AUTISM ISSUE!!!!!!!!! This is an issue of children, 4 of them, being unrully on a flight and the ADULTS (if you can call them that) that accompanied the kids not being able or willing to even try to control them. It has nothing to do with the fact that the 10 year old having autism. Granted the young man having autism does make it harder for the parent to keep his attention. but what about the orher little girl, who has cerabl palsy, and the other 2 who are supposedly healthy? The reports state that all the children were "out of control" (the mother's own words). It has nothing to do with the kids disabilities, but everything to do with a mother and aunt, being unprepared to handle their kids during the flight. If they were prepared 2 kids wouldn't have ended up locked in the restrooms,according to one report, making a mess to the point that the flight attendants had to clean then up. How did the kids get in the restrooms if the adults were properly watching them? wouldnt you think that they would have had the children sin in the inside of the row so that if the kids tried to get up they could have been stopped? Since when is it the airline's responsibility to babysit 4 kids during the flight while the 2 adults with the kids don't even care what the kids are doing? shouldn't the PARENTS have a responsibility to keep their childern, be it 1 or 5, under control and if the 2 adults are unable to control the 4 children mabye, here is an idea, bring along another adult or someone who is capable of helping. These so called adults apparently didn't even try to control the kids. The only reason the autism issue was brought up was for media ratings, and for the family to rty to get sympanthy from others (sniffle.. sniffle, we were thrown off the plane because the kids have disabilities, cry... cry...) I suppose the next thing the flight attendants are going to be expected to do is change the diapers ofall the babies on the flight, that is THE PARENT'S JOB.
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Although I am sure that was a hard decision that took a lot of considereation. You must adhere to all FAA regulations. When a passenger is not adhering to those rules and you are ultimately responsible for them, then what else can you do right? You are not only responsible for that child, but you are also responsible for the safety of the people around that child. If a sudden change in altitue were to occur, then that child could have hit another person without even trying to. If the child can not sit during flight then maybe flying is not the answer perhaps it might be driving that is the necessity, so that stops can be made and the child can get out and play.
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I applaud you Southwest!! You were looking out for the safety, well being and enjoyment of ALL your passengers. I am and estremely frequent flier on your airline as well as many others. I would like to see more flight attendents asking parents to control their children. I feel that if you cannot sufficiently control your children then you should not take them out in publc. If you need to, then please take enough adults trained to handle them. Why should the rest of us have to suffer. I am also wondering how many seats the mother purchased. She obviously wouldn't fit in just one.
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As the parent of a child with autism I am amazed by the comments posted here. Parents should be in charge and in control of their children no matter what their situation. Autism is no excuse for bad behavior. I see children in the airport and on planes all the time, "normal" children, who are out of control and the parents don't seem to notice or care. My 21 year old daughter says she is never having children because of how she sees children behave in public. I have tried to explain to her that it is not the kids fault they behave they way they do, it is the parents fault. Why else would we have a reality show about nannies? I have had my son with autism on over 50 flights and he has never caused a problem. When the behavior of a single person, no matter their condition, creates a safety hazard on a flight the flight crew must address it. No exceptions.
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Are you kidding me!!! I have students in class with all different types of disabilities! To make exceptptions to to the rules regarding the safety of all on board the air craft is insane ! Need I say more?
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First let me say that I do agree that the safety of everyone on the plane should be the business of everyone who walks aboard the plane. Second, let me say that as a parent of 2 autistic children I am boycotting SWA. My family, friends and even the company I work for are also boycotting SWA. I have flown SWA many times in the last 20 years and will no longer support them. I understand the concern of the other passengers, however the lady wasn't flying alone. She had her sister with her to help her out. Not all autistic children misbehave, but unless you have an imaginary child, all children will misbehave one time or another. I am truly disappointed at how SWA handled the situation.
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Dear Anonymous - I am disheartened to read that you will not be flying with us again, particularly when it seems that you may be basing your decision on misinformation or misunderstanding. Obviously, neither you nor I were traveling on the flight in question. So we are both relying on the information of others. From all reports, including the reports of our Crew, other passengers onboard, and even the reports that we gathered from the family that was ultimately denied boarding, the situation was not related to the fact that a child has Autism. As I stated above, it is unfortunate that these situations get played out in the media because the facts of the story are never presented in their entirety. And, as a courtesy to the family involved, it is not appropriate for us as a Company to promote the details of this situation to the general public. But, again, as we have stated many times, although this situation was not related to a child having Autism, we can assure you that Southwest Airlines is committed to providing courteous and efficient service to all of our Customers with disabilities and assisting them in a manner consistent with federal law and Company procedures. That said, I truly hope you will reconsider your decision and fly with us again. Paula Berg Southwest Airlines
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Seriously? Flight attendants are not baby-sitters. It is not their responsibility to control children with or without exceptionalities. Their job is to ensure the safety of the passengers. If anyone is out of control or not obeying the rules, it is their responsibility to make sure that whom ever is out of line is quickly put back in line. If it were a child who is not autistic and just overactive or the victim of careless parents ... the same action would have resulted. It is not an issue of autism. If a flight attendant is responsible for knowing all conditions and how to deal with people with various conditions ... they would be call psychiatrists not flight attendants. Is it just me or does anyone notice it is never the parents' fault? The finger is always pointed elsewhere ... i.e. flight attendants, teachers, society, etc. It is the parents' own inability to accept reality that results in these sorts of issues. If the parents know that this could be the possible outcome of their autistic child being confined to a plane for an extended period of time ... then alternate arrangements in transportation should be made. Again, parents not accepting the reality that their children shouldn't fly. I fly rather regularly and would have appreciate the flight attendants responding to this situation the way that they did. Refunding their money was probably not the best message that could have been sent. Is this to say that all I have to do is act up on a flight and it's free? If anything those aboard the plane should have had their money refunded. Sadly, the parents of the children will use them as an excuse to get 'stuff.' It is giving them an excuse for themselves which really has nothing to do with their child. So if the child wasn't already facing issues ... they now have crappy parent to deal with as well. I pray for those involved in this situation. Especially for the children that have these two women as supervision and use them to get what they want.