SALT LAKE CITY – An Oregon family is furious after they said their flight was diverted to Salt Lake City and they were kicked off because of a misunderstanding with their teenage daughter who has autism.
Donna Beegle told KPTV the issue started on their flight from Orlando to Portland when her 15-year-old daughter, Juliette, got hungry.
Beegle said she knew her daughter needed food quickly to avoid a meltdown but the girl wouldn’t eat the snacks she brought on the plane.
The mother said she asked the flight attendant for a hot meal but said they told her the hot meals were only served to first class passengers.
“The flight attendant said, ‘there’s not anything we can get you,’ so I said, ‘Well, how about we wait for her to have a meltdown and start crying and she tries to scratch, and then you’ll want to help her,'” Beegle told KPTV.
Beegle said her daughter started to get anxious and the flight attendant brought her food from first class, which seemed to calm the teen.
The mother said she thought everything was fine until the plane made an emergency landing in Utah.
She said officers came on board and asked the family to get off the plane.
“Police officers said, ‘We have to ask you to leave the plane,’” Beegle told KPTV. “I asked them why and they said, ‘The captain doesn’t feel comfortable flying to Portland with your daughter on the flight.’”
According to KPTV, the mother said her daughter wasn’t attacking anyone and they left hurt and confused by the situation.
United Airlines issued a statement about the situation:
“After working to accommodate Dr. Beegle and her daughter during the flight, the crew made the best decision for the safety and comfort of all of our customers and elected to divert to Salt Lake City after the situation became disruptive. We rebooked the customers on a different carrier and the flight continued to Portland.”
Beegle said she is filing a lawsuit against United Airlines, not for money, but for a change in flight attendant training.
The family has also filed a complaint with the FAA.
“I don’t want anyone else to experience that, no one,” Beegle said. “My heart feels heavy from that, I’m still reeling from the emotion of how my daughter was treated.”