Report: American Airlines Kicked Family Off Cross-Country Flight Because Son Has Down Syndrome (+video)

A California family says they were kicked off a cross-country American Airlines flight because their 16-year-old son has Down syndrome.

Joan and Robert Vanderhorst, of Bakersfield, Calif., said they intend to sue American over the “humiliating” incident at Newark Airport, in which they were told their special needs son posed a “flight risk.”

“It’s defamation,” Robert Vanderhorst told the Daily News. “It’s a violation of his civil rights and its defamation.”

Joan Vanderhorst pulled out her cell phone and started recording the incident on Sunday in which Bede is seen quietly playing with his hat and an American Airlines official warns that she was prohibited from filming “in a security-controlled area.”

At one point, Port Authority police were even called on the confused family. Read more from this story HERE.

Here’s the family’s video:

  • Mark Brickey

    OK, we’ve got a 16 yr old who happens to be DS, and a pilot claims he’s a security risk….
    Yet, the AIRLINES offers them FUTURE tickets?!? So, he’s security rick on one flight but not on another?!??!
    Where’s the ACLU with this? If this kid would have been “of color” & been running around being rude, interrupting, etc. the ACLU would be all over it.
    But since this obviously well-behaved young man “acts” a bit differently, maybe “looks” a bit differently, this ignorant pilot made his choice.
    Hurray for the other airline that came to the rescue! Great company! I’ll need to go back & see who it was!

  • marineh2ominer

    This would never have happened were he a MUSLIM . They need to get up with Glenn Beck , I am sure he will give them all the help they will need in their lawsuit . If we could find a REAL American judge we could put a bond against them not allowing the use of the term AMERICAN in their name , simply because they are the exact opposite of what America stands for .

  • I hope they sue AA for both a total refund with interest on the airline tickets and the cost of railroad tickets to support their travel. Here’s hoping that either AA fires those employees involved in this fiasco, or AA tanks! Let’s also scrap the TSA!

  • Suing is too kind. The employees out to be fired outright.