September 12, 2012
Huge Disappointment, American Airlines
Most people by now have heard about the 16 year old boy who was not allowed to board his American Airlines flight with his parent because his seat was located in first class, an upgrade purchased by him and his family. Though AA claims the child was disruptive, the family's cell phone video showed the boy clearly sitting quietly throughout the incident. No apology has been issued by American Airlines, nor has the airline made any kind of commitment towards equal treatment of its passengers or anything of the like.
Our family has flown with Chase and our other children a dozen times and we have never experienced any derogatory treatment by attendants or passengers. (We have never flown American Airlines.) The thought of an airline refusing to honor a ticket that we buy Chase based only one his intellectual ability or the shape of his face.... I can't begin to explain how horrible it feels to know that this happens.
Chase is adorable. He loves to smile and give high fives to strangers. He loves to cuddle up to other parents or kids in waiting rooms and flirt so that they let him play video games on their iphones. He knows that people love him and he plays that up to his benefit. He is three years old, however, and most people find this behavior adorable at Chase's age. Down the road, it will be different. And one day, he will meet that person that is not in the mood or is not tolerant of people who are different, and it hurts my heart to know that Chase's feelings will be crushed.
I hope American Airlines apologizes. But more than that, I hope that they make a systematic change in their company such that everyone is treated with respect and dignity. Although security concerns are legitimate, they are not based on intellectual difficulty. Hopefully this incident will make people aware and bring about some kind of change to that this doesn't happen to another innocent 16 year old boy or the parents who love him.
Tim Shriver's Letter entitled "We All Have Rights"
Change.org's Petition Asking for a change in Am.Airline Policy