You Won’t Believe How United Airlines Treated this Family with a Special Needs Child

You Won’t Believe How United Airlines Treated this Family with a Special Needs Child January 6, 2015

Life for special needs families is hard enough without people making it more difficult by their ignorance!

Elit Kirschenbaum is the mother of Ivy, a 3-year-old who survived a stroke and has Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. Because of that, she can’t sit up on her own. When their family was flying back from vacation in the Dominican Republic, a United Airlines flight attendant gave them a hard time and insisted that Ivy be in her own seat instead of sitting on her mom’s lap.

The girl only weighs 25 pounds. Three other flight attendants were fine with her staying on her mom’s lap like she had on multiple flights before, but one showed “zero compassion” and insisted on making a scene that caused the flight to leave an hour late. Even though the flight attendant handbook said they were allowed to make exceptions if someone couldn’t sit on their own.

Elit posted her story on Tumblr and Twitter, telling how they’d been “humiliated” by the attendant. Tons of people got on social media to support or disagree with the Kirschenbaums. Even CNN anchor Jake Tapper stood up for them.

They only wanted an apology, but the airline’s initial responses were pretty cold: “Safety regs mandate customers 2 years or older have own seat,” they tweeted.

But Washington Post reports that now they have apologized to the family for how the employee treated them.

Ivy’s mom said, “I want them to recognize that not everyone fits the same mold. You need to put humanity into your decision-making. You need to put compassion into your decision-making.”

The world is a hard enough place for a child with special needs. I remember when TSA didn’t let my parents bring Trig’s food on a plane! (He has to eat everything blending, and you can’t buy blended spaghetti at the airport!) When service workers aren’t prepared to deal graciously with situations like this, it just makes things worse!

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