Boy with Down syndrome not allowed to board American plane

Down syndrome boy blocked from American flight 
By: John Roberts 

(Scroll down for video) An American Airlines pilot does not like to be disturbed by people affected with Down syndrome, according to a complaint by one family.

A California family which was not allowed to board their flight, say that they were discriminated against because their son has Down syndrome.

Robert Vanderhorst, his wife Joan and 16-year-old son Bede, who is disabled, were to fly on American Airlines from New York to Los Angeles on Sunday, when the child and his parents were not allowed on the plane.

The family, which has upgraded to first class tickets at an airport kiosk, asked the airline for the child to have a seat together with at least one parent, Vanderhorst said, a request which the airline fulfilled. When the family was ready to board, they were detained by airline staff. Vanderhorst said he was told that his son was a "security risk" and would not be allowed on the flight. They protested, but booked another flight later in coach.

American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said the disabled child stirred trouble and ran around the gate area before boarding, a claim the parents dispute. The plane's pilot observed the boy, Miller said, and made the decision based on his behavior.

"He was not ready to fly, that was our view," said Miller. "We booked the family on another flight because of the security concerns for the youth and the other passengers as well."

But Vanderhorst said her son did not run around at any time, and he did not make any loud noise and showed no offensive behavior. The boy was with them or sat quietly in the gate area, Vanderhorst said.

A cell phone video captured by the boy's mother shows Bede sitting quietly playing with a baseball cap.

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