Family Kicked off Plane for 'Disruptive' Autistic Daughter Files Complaint Against United Airlines

Human Rights

An Oregon mother has accused United Airlines of forcing her family to leave a fight after her 15-year-old autistic daughter supposedly became “disruptive,”  NBC News reports.


Dr. Donna Beegle, of Tigard, Ore., was returning home from a trip to Walt Disney World last week when her daughter, Juliette, became agitated during a layover in Houston because she was hungry.

Beegle says her Juliette calmed down after she persuaded a flight attendant to give her some hot food so she could feed her daughter. The girl was sitting quietly in her seat watching a movie when Beegle heard that the plane was making an emergency landing in Salt Lake City.

Officers boarded the plane after touching down and escorted Beegle’s family off. The incident was recorded on video. Other passengers can be heard saying, "It's ridiculous." Another says, "That's going to be a lawsuit."

"Juliette has flown since she was six months," Beegle said in an account of the incident that she posted to Facebook. "She has been to five countries, 24 states and we have never experienced anything like this."

United Airlines said in a statement that "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."

Beegle has filed a complaints with United Airways and the Federal Aviation Administration. She plans on suing the airline, but not for money. Instead, Beegle wants the staff to undergo training.

“This was a sheer case of ignorance,” she said in the Facebook statement. “Prejudice, ignorance and mistreatment are all too common toward people facing poverty. The parallels between special needs and poverty are striking in that both are causes for judgement, misunderstanding and mistreatment.”

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