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United Airlines has some explaining to do after one of its planes went off course to land so that it could kick off a young lady with autism, along with her family, as reported by NBC News.
Plus, the whole thing was caught on a smartphone.
The airline claims that the daughter of Dr. Donna Beegle, Juliette, became "disruptive" from being hungry during a layover in Houston. Beegle said she was able to coax a flight attendant into giving her daughter some hot food, and the 15-year-old settled down and began watching a movie. Then, "the next thing we hear is we're doing an emergency landing in Salt Lake City," Beegle told NBC station KGW in Oregon. "We have a passenger on board with a behavior issue."
Police officers then boarded the plane to escort the family off the flight.
"As a mom, it ripped my heart out," Beegle said. "I was shaking."
The family has since filed a complaint against United Airlines.
In a statement, United said its "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."
But Beegle, who happens to be a prominent advocate for anti-poverty programs and frequently consults with state and federal government agencies, isn't buying it.
"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."
Beegle said the incident is "a sheer case of ignorance," adding: "Prejudice, ignorance and mistreatment are all too common toward people facing poverty," she added. "The parallels between special needs and poverty are striking in that both are causes for judgment, misunderstanding and mistreatment."