Oregon Mom Says Autistic Daughter's Removal from United Airlines Flight Was 'Rooted in Ignorance'
A United Airlines flight made an emergency landing after teen with autism became agitated, leaving the family and passengers outraged
An Oregon mother of a 15-year-old girl with autism has filed a complaint against United Airlines after an emergency landing was issued when her daughter became “disruptive.”
Dr. Donna Beegle was returning home to Portland after a family trip to Disney World when her daughter Juliette became agitated because she was hungry.
After persuading flight attendants to provide a hot meal for her daughter, the teenager calmed down and began watching a movie, according to NBC News.
What happened next came as a shock to Beegle.
“The next thing we hear is we’re doing an emergency landing in Salt Lake City,” Beegle told NBC station KGW of Portland, Oregon. “We have a passenger on board with a behavior issue.”
Once the flight landed, police officers were waiting to escort Juliette and her family off the plane.
Not only did this upset Beegle and her family, but passengers expressed their outrage as well.
In a video posted to YouTube, passengers are heard coming to the teen’s defense, saying, “It’s ridiculous,” and “That’s going to be a lawsuit.”
In a Facebook post, Beegle, who describes the incident as “a sheer case of ignorance,” took the opportunity to express how grateful she is for her daughter’s supporters.
A United Airlines passenger commented on Dr. Beegle’s Facebook page, writing: “I was on that plane and my seat mates and I were horrified and very angry with the horrid way they treated you…I didn’t hear of a single person that was upset with your daughter just in case you wondered.”
Beegle also explained her reasoning for taking action against the airline.
“Landing that plane and asking us to move to a Delta flight was wrong and rooted ignorance,” Beegle said. “We did not go to the media or file a lawsuit for money, but rather to ask that airline staff receive training. With 1 in 68 children facing autism it is imperative to understand, be aware and for pete’s sake, if you can help in a situation, have compassion and help.”
In a statement, United Airlines said its “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.”