Family Kicked Off Flight After Teen With Down Syndrome Gets Labeled 'Flight Risk'

A family that was trying to fly from New Jersey to Los Angeles claims they were kicked off an American Airlines flight because their 16-year-old son has Down syndrome.

According to Joan and Robert Vanderhorst, Bede was singled out for his disability. The family has flown together before, but this time they had upgraded to first class, which Joan believes was the issue.

This little boy had a seat in the first class area, and for some reason, they didn't want that. That wasn't acceptable.

Joan recorded a video of the incident, because she believed Bede's civil rights were being violated. In the video, Bede can be seen playing quietly with his hat, while Robert asserts, "He's behaving. He's demonstrating he's not a problem."

But an American Airlines spokesperson told KTLA—

For the safety of the young man and the safety of others, American Airlines offered to book another flight for the family.

The airline alleges that Bede was "excitable, running around, and not acclimated to the environment."

The family was told that Bede's behavior could be a problem so close to the cockpit, as the pilot might become distracted, which would force an emergency landing. The Vanderhorst family isn't buying it.

They're now planning to sue American Airlines, hoping to remind the airline, as Robert puts it, "Respect each person's dignity. Every one of us should be treated with equal dignity."

[Image via Shutterstock]