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Family Kicked Off Flight Over 'Disruptive' Autistic Teen

They warned that hungry girl, 15, might have 'meltdown'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2015 1:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – A mom who says she was humiliated when she and her family were kicked off a United Airlines flight because of her autistic daughter's allegedly disruptive behavior wants airlines to learn from the incident. According to a Facebook post from Donna Beegle, the family was on its way home to Oregon from Walt Disney World when 15-year-old Juliette became upset because she hadn't eaten during a layover in Houston, NBC News reports. After being told that hot food was only available to first-class passengers, Beegle, who was in economy class, explained to a flight attendant that her daughter might have a "meltdown" if she couldn't get some. She tells KGW that after a meal arrived, there was an announcement that there would be an emergency landing because of a passenger's behavioral problem.

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The parents and their two children were ordered off the plane by police officers when the plane landed in Salt Lake City. "As a mom, it ripped my heart out," Beegle tells KGW. "I was shaking." She says her daughter has flown many times before without a problem. She tells KOIN that the family was kicked off the plane because of "ignorance" and "the fear of autism." She says she plans to file a lawsuit not for money, but to make sure airline staff receive the proper training in dealing with autistic passengers. In a statement, United said the "crew made the best decision for the safety and comfort of all of our customers" after "the situation became disruptive." (An autistic 11-year-old boy was found safe five days after he wandered away from a campground.)

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