Was Family Denied Flight Because of Son’s Down Syndrome?

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LOS ANGELES -- A family is upset with American Airlines after they were asked to take another flight because of their son who has Down Syndrome. Robert and Joan Vanderhorst describe their son Bede as being outgoing and fun loving.

They definitely  feel the 16-year-old was discriminated against. The Vanderhorsts tried to board the plane but were stopped by airline staff. Joan Vanderhorst taped the incident on her cell phone because she feels her son's civil rights were violated as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"We were not allowed on the plane because this man saw my son and made a decision," said Joann Vanderhorst.

Airline staff told her that her son was a flight risk despite the fact they were supposed to sit in first class. The family says they were told their son's behavior was a concern because their first class seat was close to the cockpit and a distraction to the pilot could cause a mid-flight emergency landing.

American Airlines released this statement.

"The young man excitable, running around, and not acclimated to the environment. The pilot attempted to calm him down and acclimate him to the surroundings. His efforts were not successful. For the safety of the young man and the safety  of others, American Airlines offered to book another flight for the family."

The family says they've flown several other times without any problems. They disagree with the statement made by American. They plan to sue and hope their experience will teach the company and people in general, a valuable lesson.

"Every one of us should be treated with equal dignity," said Robert Vanderhorst.

The family was later booked on a United Airlines flight and were able to get home safely.

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