Where in the world do I even begin?!…..
United Airlines has been on the news recently because of alleged discrimination against an Autistic teen, Juliette.
Juliette and her parents boarded a flight with United Airlines. Shortly after, the drama ensued.
Juliette has trouble with verbal communication (or in this case, communicating in a way that is deemed comfortable to society- an issue that deserves its own blog post). Her blood sugar was running very low, and due to sensory distress, only ate warm food. It is not uncommon for Autistic people to experience heightened sensory distress when physical balance is misaligned. The mother asked the flight attendants repeatedly for a hot meal for her daughter, and was denied. The mother’s request was finally met when she warned the flight attendant that her daughter would have a huge meltdown if she did not receive her hot meal. You would think this would be a happy ending, but shortly thereafter; the pilot announces that the plane will make an emergency landing because “we have a passenger with a behavior issue”.
Worse yet, as the plane landed, Juliette’s family were met with police officers waiting to escort them off the plane.
Not only were the parents horrified, the passengers thankfully came to the defense of Juliette.
The family was told to move to a Delta flight. United Airlines commented that “the crew made the best decision for the safety and comfort of all passengers.
Juliette’s mother threatened to file a discrimination lawsuit, because the family was escorted off of the plane out of SHEER ignorance, nothing more.
Here is the Goddess’s two cents:
After my trip to LA, I held United Airlines in high regard because of their amenities, staff, and cleanliness. I even thought of them as more Autistic friendly due to (IMO) more spacious interior.
Now, it would be one thing entirely if the airline had apologized and offered some reimbursement to the family. It is bad enough that they hired staff with such poor understanding and regard for a diverse public (and this is supposed to be in the travel industry??!!). At the same time, United Airlines had the NERVE to brush it off as an act of safety.
Let me get this straight: You mean, an Autistic teen who was experiencing distress and has trouble communicating verbally is considered a THREAT to safety???
In one of my previous posts, I predicted that the TSA, and Airlines may treat some individuals with Autism as terroristic threats due to misunderstood behavioral symptoms, and there we have it. As sad as it is that in 2015, Autism Awareness is still in very dark ages; my worst nightmare has come true.
Juliette’s mother’s main goal for the law-suit is to force United Airlines, and others to undergo more disability-sensitive training. This is a commendable idea that I hope to see take place very soon. I am of the opinion that if anyone is working in the travel industry, it should be a REQUIREMENT to undergo such training Human resource departments should include disability understanding in their diversity training programs all across industries, not just the travel industries.
Kudos to the passengers who didn’t entertain or act out that same ignorance. I also admire Juliette’s mother for taking a much needed stance at an utterly appalling experience.
As for me, the mother is better than I would have been because I wouldn’t be so kind about it. Furthermore, I will do my very best NOT to support United Airlines ever again.
Thanks for steering me away from doing business with you United Airlines!
The Autistic Travel Goddess who requires that you get off your ignorance, and educate your staff on how to properly work with people on the Autism Spectrum!