American Airlines has responded to an incident at Newark Airport on September 3rd where a teen was denied boarding on a flight to Los Angeles by the carrier.
The Vanderhorsts were due to fly from Newark to LAX when the incident took place. The family says their son, 16 year-old Bede Vanderhorst, who has Down Syndrome, was denied boarding because he posed a ‘flight risk’.
The Vanderhorsts claim their son could not board the flight to Los Angeles (LAX) because the airline did not want him sitting in First Class.
American posted the following response on their Facebook page:
‘We appreciate the outpouring of concern for the Vanderhorst family. However, prior to boarding flight 119 from Newark to Los Angeles, our customer service team observed the Vanderhorst teen yelling and running around the gate area – he seemed very agitated. Our team, along with the Captain of the flight, worked with the family for more than 30 minutes to try and calm the teen down. There were times when he was calm, but unfortunately, when it came time to board the flight he became agitated again. We tried to work with the family to come up with alternate solutions, which included an offer to rebook the family on the next flight in order to give the teen time to acclimate to his surroundings. Our customer service team, as well as flight crew, made the difficult decision that it wasn’t best for the teen to travel at that time. We wanted to make sure that the young man, as well as the other passengers onboard, were safe and comfortable during the six-hour flight.
Ultimately, the family chose to fly another airline, and we helped to re-accommodate the Vanderhorsts.
American’s actions and procedures are in full compliance with the Air Carrier Access Act. Asking the Vanderhorst family to take a different flight was a decision that was made with careful consideration and was based solely on the young man’s behavior.’