Archived: American Airlines Employees Humiliate Family of Boy With Down Syndrome

American Airlines Employees Humiliate Family of Boy With Down Syndrome


A teenager with Down syndrome is singled out as a flight risk for smiling and playing with a baseball cap. Watch the action on video.

Has a group of American Airlines employees at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport identified the latest threat to airline travel—a teenager with Down syndrome Bede Vanderhorst’s parents were told by airline employees at the boarding gate that the 16-year-old boy was “not ready to fly” because of “agitated” behavior and that the family would not be allowed to fly in the $625 first-class seats they purchased.

The Vanderhorsts were then escorted by airport personnel to a flight home on United Airlines and were forced to sit in the very last row of coach away from other passengers. They were not refunded for their upgraded seats.

Watch this video of the incident, which the mother, Joan Vanderhorst, recorded on her cell phone. Can you find all of Bede’s distracting behaviors such as “running around the gate area” that made him a “flight risk,” as an American Airlines spokesperson claims

Read Disability Employment Awareness Month Facts & Figures for information on this traditionally underrepresented group.

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