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Teen denied boarding on American Airlines flight because he has Down syndrome, family says
The New York Daily News ^ | September 4, 2012 | Victoria Cavaliere

Posted on 09/05/2012 6:09:39 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

A California family says they were kicked off a cross-country American Airlines flight because their 16-year-old son has Down syndrome.

Joan and Robert Vanderhorst, of Bakersfield, Calif., said they intend to sue American over the "humiliating" incident at Newark Airport, in which they were told their special needs son posed a "flight risk."

"It's defamation," Robert Vanderhorst told the Daily News. "It's a violation of his civil rights and its defamation."

Joan Vanderhorst pulled out her cell phone and started recording the incident on Sunday in which Bede is seen quietly playing with his hat and an American Airlines official warns that she was prohibited from filming "in a security-controlled area."

At one point, Port Authority police were even called on the confused family.

"Nothing like this has ever happened to us before. That's what's so shocking. He's usually our good luck charm. Good things usually happen when Bede is with us," Vanderhorst said.

Bede and his parents had been in Jackson, N.J., visiting family and were eager to make the long return flight home. On a "lark" they had even upgraded their seats to first class, shelling out an extra $625 dollars.

"My wife said, 'oh Bede's never flown first class,' he'll be so excited."

Vanderhorst said Bede, a freshman in high school, has flown "at least 30 times" through his life and has never caused any trouble.

Nothing was different before Sunday's flight, he said. Bede was sticking close to his parents and was not acting unruly, nor was he upset.

But as the family waited to board, an American Airlines official pulled them aside and said the pilot had observed Bede and didn't feel safe allowing him on the plane.

Joan Vanderhorst quickly snapped on her video camera and can be heard sobbing. "We are being singled out," she said. Robert Vanderhorst, an attorney, calmly pleads with the airline official. "He's behaving. He's demonstrating he's not a problem."

The agitated American Airlines employee instead called Port Authority police to escort the family away from the gate.

"It was horrible, humiliating. We were treated like criminals…One officer even told me to call our congressman and report the pilot," Vanderhorst said.

He said the pilot's name was recorded as Jeff Hickey.

"He never came out, he never interacted with my son," Vanderhorst said.

But American Airlines stood behind its decision to remove Bede from the flight, telling the Daily News on Tuesday that boy was "agitated" in the waiting area.

"Asking the family to take the next flight was a decision that was made with careful consideration and that was done based on the behavior of the teen," the airline said.

"Our customer service team worked with the Vanderhorst family and the EWR [Newark airport] team, as well as the crew, tried to get Bede comfortable. Unfortunately, the crew determined he was still agitated."

The airline said it did not have any complaints from other passengers observing Bede's alleged "agitation."

Vanderhorst said he has spoken with his attorneys about a lawsuit, accusing the airline of violating Bede's civil rights and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

"My son cannot defend himself," he said. "I expect that American Airlines will not give their pilots the ability to discriminate against anyone; gay, black disabled," he said.

The family's trip home deteriorated even further when they were loaded into a full United Airlines flight and placed in the very back row.

"For a second time, we were discriminated against. Segregated."

For his part, Bede, took the incident in stride.

"He got on the plane and was waving hi to everyone," his father said.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Health/Medicine; Society; Travel
KEYWORDS: americanairlines; downsyndrome
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How many more screw-ups will this airline have this month? Their going out of business would not be good for the Dallas/Ft Worth area, at all.
1 posted on 09/05/2012 6:09:46 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Good for the pilot. If the pilot doesn’t want someone on the plane, that’s good enough for me. He is the man responsible for delivering everyone safely, and if he feels like a passenger poses a risk, then he should be able to exclude that passenger and the rest of us can shut up about it.


2 posted on 09/05/2012 6:15:29 PM PDT by SAR (Son of THE Revolution.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

After the way they treated Glenn Beck....a story that was heard by countless MILLIONS in the last 24 hours, and now this abomination....some f**king heads need to roll at this idiotic airline.

I used to fly AA exclusively. Never again....and boys and girls, I rack up a lot of miles in my work.


3 posted on 09/05/2012 6:16:31 PM PDT by RightOnline (I am Andrew Breitbart!)
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To: SAR

So if you’re wearing a Tea Party shirt or slogan or a very prominent cross and the pilot thinks you pose a risk or just doesn’t want you on the plane, then you just need to shut up and re-book?


4 posted on 09/05/2012 6:20:38 PM PDT by perez24 (Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Joan Vanderhorst quickly snapped on her video camera and can be heard sobbing. "We are being singled out," she said. Robert Vanderhorst, an attorney, calmly pleads with the airline official. "He's behaving. He's demonstrating he's not a problem."

Hmmmmmmmmm....... Yeah, I'm sure that is on the up and up. A lawyer and his wife would NEVER manufacture a lawsuit.

5 posted on 09/05/2012 6:25:44 PM PDT by Hacksaw (If I had a son, he'd look like George Zimmerman.)
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If a pilot has a record of excluding people at a high rate, then that pilot will come under scrutiny naturally. If he or she is acting in a discriminatory manner, then they will not last long. But if a pilot has no rnocord of discrimination and doesn’t want me on the plane, then yeah, I shouldn’t fly.

Do you want your children on a plane with someone who makes a professional pilot uncomfortable? I do not.


6 posted on 09/05/2012 6:31:52 PM PDT by SAR (Son of THE Revolution.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

My neighbor, whom I really like is dating a bimbo American flight attendant union liberal rep.....I am not saying that flight attendants are bimbos but I am saying she is and if that is what American has to offer, no thanks...when he told me she was a liberal, I said “that explains a few things.”


7 posted on 09/05/2012 6:32:46 PM PDT by Kimmers (Fair isn't everybody getting the same thing, fair is getting what you need to be successful)
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To: Hacksaw

And what would you do? Bend over and ask for another?


8 posted on 09/05/2012 6:36:18 PM PDT by Kirkwood (Zombie Hunter)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Well, if Southwest got their slots at DFW I would be happier. AA is discriminating people alot lately.

The pilot was a moron. I have a disable large child as well. The raving ignorance of the truly disabled is massive. I hope the family sues and wins.


9 posted on 09/05/2012 6:36:30 PM PDT by 1scrappymom (No, I am not a Republican. I am a CONSERVATIVE.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

My son has Down Syndrome and we have flown with him quite a few times. I wonder if the pilot’s decision has more to do with him not wanting a special needs person flying first class, wouldn’t want the high paying customers to think their flight might be disrupted.


10 posted on 09/05/2012 6:36:58 PM PDT by psjones (u)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I’m a retired AA employee.

The pilot’s union is the only hold out in the bankruptcy proceedings. All the other union and non-union groups have signed off on the agreement.

I hate to say it, but unless the other groups put more pressure on the pilots you will see AA go the way of EA because of the militant mechanics union back in the early 80’s. This is an isolated case, but that is all it takes to make the news.


11 posted on 09/05/2012 6:49:03 PM PDT by 23 Everest (When seconds count. The police are just 23 minutes away. 831 Bonnie)
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To: 23 Everest

Actually the late 80’s was the demise of Eastern Airlines.


12 posted on 09/05/2012 6:51:40 PM PDT by 23 Everest (When seconds count. The police are just 23 minutes away. 831 Bonnie)
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To: psjones

I was wondering that too. It would be interesting to know exactly who was on board that first class flight. Could that have been where the complaint actually originated?


13 posted on 09/05/2012 6:53:33 PM PDT by This I Wonder32460
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To: 23 Everest; This I Wonder32460

I’m guessing former Governor Sarah Palin will be all over this tomorrow.


14 posted on 09/05/2012 6:57:57 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: SAR
That's BULLSH*T!
The kid wasn't causing a problem.
15 posted on 09/05/2012 7:15:49 PM PDT by Sarajevo (Don't think for a minute that this excuse for a President has America's best interest in mind.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Who flies American anymore? Buncha losers.


16 posted on 09/05/2012 7:16:40 PM PDT by gotribe
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Not sure why you are saying that? But go ahead and enlighten me.


17 posted on 09/05/2012 7:18:51 PM PDT by 23 Everest (When seconds count. The police are just 23 minutes away. 831 Bonnie)
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Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

To: 23 Everest

Gov. Sarah Palin has a Down Syndrome son who’s a toddler.


19 posted on 09/05/2012 7:21:15 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I hope not. We have to be focused on kicking out Obama.


20 posted on 09/05/2012 7:23:11 PM PDT by ari-freedom
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

So? Why would she make an issue of that?


21 posted on 09/05/2012 7:25:31 PM PDT by 23 Everest (When seconds count. The police are just 23 minutes away. 831 Bonnie)
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To: Sarajevo

You were there????????


22 posted on 09/05/2012 7:26:42 PM PDT by SAR (Son of THE Revolution.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I’m pretty sure that the economy, energy and the protection of our country are the things she would lead on.


23 posted on 09/05/2012 7:28:11 PM PDT by 23 Everest (When seconds count. The police are just 23 minutes away. 831 Bonnie)
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To: 23 Everest

Because she knows what it is like to have your disabled child abused by others.


24 posted on 09/05/2012 7:29:46 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: RightOnline

“”After the way they treated Glenn Beck....a story that was heard by countless MILLIONS in the last 24 hours””

I’ve missed that - what’s that about?


25 posted on 09/05/2012 7:30:02 PM PDT by Thank You Rush
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To: gotribe
Who flies American anymore? Buncha losers.

American is beginning to make United look good. That in itself says a bunch!

26 posted on 09/05/2012 7:41:49 PM PDT by Don Corleone ("Oil the gun..eat the cannoli. Take it to the Mattress.")
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I understand you point. However, I don’t think she is that thin skinned to be, “all over it”


27 posted on 09/05/2012 7:46:24 PM PDT by 23 Everest (When seconds count. The police are just 23 minutes away. 831 Bonnie)
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To: Don Corleone; gotribe

Don’t fly much do you guys? And if you say, “yes”, I have to seriously doubt that in advance.


28 posted on 09/05/2012 7:50:25 PM PDT by 23 Everest (When seconds count. The police are just 23 minutes away. 831 Bonnie)
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To: 23 Everest

‘thin skinned’??

What happened to ‘MAMA GRIZZLY’??

Just last week I called my mom to give her a birthday present. A flight with AA anywhere any time she wants within the next year.

I just wrote AA and told them that I’d be telling Mom that she could get a ticket with anyone BUT them. I’ll pay an extra $100 for the tickets.

Don’t mess with kids. Don’t mess with our disabled kids/soldiers/elderly.

Real men (and women) protect those who can’t take care of themselves.


29 posted on 09/05/2012 7:51:54 PM PDT by Marie ("The last time Democrats gloated this hard after a health care victory, they lost 60 House seats.")
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

No matter what airline, the Captain of the flight can refuse anyone service on HIS aircraft, and have them physically removed. He does not have to explain, justify, or get permission from anyone, he has that authority.

For anyone that can not accept this, they need to find another mode of transportation.


30 posted on 09/05/2012 7:56:28 PM PDT by wrench
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To: 23 Everest

Not so much “thin-skinned” as a “Mama Grizzly” protecting a cub, so to speak. I’d be very surprised if she doesn’t at least comment on the incident. AA might want to get their s*** straight pretty quickly.


31 posted on 09/05/2012 7:56:34 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Gotta cha!


32 posted on 09/05/2012 7:59:39 PM PDT by 23 Everest (When seconds count. The police are just 23 minutes away. 831 Bonnie)
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To: Thank You Rush

Glenn Beck Boycott: American Airlines In The Hotseat
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/2927157/posts

Glenn’s Labor Day weekend in NYC uncovers ugly hatred on American Airlines
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2926508/posts


33 posted on 09/05/2012 8:00:19 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: wrench

Is the same true of a bus driver, train conductor, taxi driver, etc?


34 posted on 09/05/2012 8:07:04 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: Marie

I understand your sentiment about her children. I don’t think she will make an issue of them. Any animal will ignore the chatter going on over there, but if it put’s their cub in jeopardy she will attack for sure.

In this case, I don’t see it. Now, as a retired airline employee who has worked for different airlines in many different capacities, all carriers have their slip ups. So if you go to another carrier they will at some point disappoint you and you will go back to another or the original one depending on the flight miles you racked up.

That is history.


35 posted on 09/05/2012 8:07:45 PM PDT by 23 Everest (When seconds count. The police are just 23 minutes away. 831 Bonnie)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

It is in the Federal Air Regulations (FARs), so no direct transfer to other industries.

Never been around ocean going ships, but I believe a ship captain can do the same thing, and even put a passenger off at the next port if he decides to.

On an aircraft, the Captain is the ultimate authority, and the flight crew enjoys a protected status as far as attacks on their person by a passenger, it is a violation of federal law (and the FARs), and will result in arrest. Further, fines can be levied by the FAA against passengers without any right to a hearing or trial. The fines start at $10,000, IIRC.


36 posted on 09/05/2012 8:15:26 PM PDT by wrench
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To: wrench

As I understand it, a ship’s captain, at sea, can put you in the brig, in shackles or under house arrest, so to speak. Their word is law.


37 posted on 09/05/2012 8:19:17 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: wrench

Alrighty then! So if my daughter is denied her flight because the pilot doesn’t like her Star of David (or her Tea Party t-shirt) or my son is denied because he’s a diabetic or my husband is wearing a military t-shirt that the pilot finds offensive, I’ll be sure to keep my mouth shut.

After all, the pilot can do any damn thing he wants. I keep forgetting that those pesky laws against discrimination only apply to Muslims.


38 posted on 09/05/2012 8:23:28 PM PDT by Marie ("The last time Democrats gloated this hard after a health care victory, they lost 60 House seats.")
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To: 23 Everest

I haven’t flown since right after 9/11 and don’t wish to. I don’t like the way the airlines treat overweight passengers these days, for one thing, plus they seem to want to nickel & dime you to death, even after paying ridiculous amounts for a ticket in the first place.


39 posted on 09/05/2012 8:28:09 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: SAR

Horsespit!

Unlike thew high seas where a vessel’s captain has that kind of authority, Commercial pilots do not. Airlines ARE subject to obeying all federal laws, such as the ADA, and are subject to common carrier regulations which ban any form of discrimination.

You are a heartless hateful person, as you demonstrate here on a daily basis with your vile and putrid comments

What you wrote was completely uncalled for.


40 posted on 09/05/2012 8:32:32 PM PDT by Emperor Palpatine (I need a good stiff drink. How 'bout you?)
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To: Emperor Palpatine

Go post on democratic underground.

Seriously, I don’t want to get in a pissing match with anyone, but lib trolls like you only serve to cloud the debate. You’re either for safety or you’re not, and if you want to stand behind “federal laws” that’s your choice. I find it rare that the “federal government” gets anything right, but I’m sure you left wingers disagree.


41 posted on 09/05/2012 8:36:59 PM PDT by SAR (Son of THE Revolution.)
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To: wrench

No he doesn’t

Show me the FAA reg that says he does.

You won’t find one.


42 posted on 09/05/2012 8:37:23 PM PDT by Emperor Palpatine (I need a good stiff drink. How 'bout you?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

A ship is on the high seas outside of any jurisdiction.

Domestic flights never leave US Airspace.

Big difference.


43 posted on 09/05/2012 8:39:59 PM PDT by Emperor Palpatine (I need a good stiff drink. How 'bout you?)
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To: SAR

Left winger?

Hardly.

Just a cultured gentleman who has to show his contempt for knuckle-dragging troglodytes who probably dropped out of high school and never made more that $40K a year.

Oafs who pop off to their intellectual superiors aren’t really worth the time of day, but I’m not the only one here who has taken you to task for your toxic ignorance and caustic personality.

Son of the American Revolution my eye. Washington, Madison, Jefferson, and Hamilton were all gentlemen of refinement, and would have looked down their patrician noses at the pedestrian likes of you.


44 posted on 09/05/2012 8:47:41 PM PDT by Emperor Palpatine (I need a good stiff drink. How 'bout you?)
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To: Emperor Palpatine

“The pilot in command is ultimately responsible for the safe operation of the flight.” I can give you chapter, verse, and paragraph, it is in there.

This has been challenged and upheld every time.


45 posted on 09/05/2012 8:49:00 PM PDT by wrench
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
"My son cannot defend himself," he said. "I expect that American Airlines will not give their pilots the ability to discriminate against anyone; gay, black disabled," he said.

There's a clue in this quote somewhere...Hmmmm...

46 posted on 09/05/2012 8:50:45 PM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I’m not buying this family’s story at all. A 16-year-old boy with Down syndrome can be a very large person, and if “agitated” could indeed be disruptive if not inadvertantly downright dangerous. That pilot sounds like the kind of pilot I would want (if I flew on planes).


47 posted on 09/05/2012 9:00:12 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I’m not buying this family’s story at all. A 16-year-old boy with Down syndrome can be a very large person, and if “agitated” could indeed be disruptive if not inadvertantly downright dangerous. That pilot sounds like the kind of pilot I would want (if I flew on planes).


48 posted on 09/05/2012 9:00:15 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: <1/1,000,000th%

I noticed the same thing. It tipped me off that this family is very likely a pack of liberal Democrat scumbags.


49 posted on 09/05/2012 9:01:50 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: Don Corleone

“United look good. That in itself says a bunch!”

==

My son and his family flew 10,000 miles on United for their vacation this year. It was a horror show going and coming back and they said never again.


50 posted on 09/05/2012 9:12:41 PM PDT by Mears
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