- Adam and Heather Halkuff, and their five sons under the age of 16, were travelling from Dallas to Kansas City, Missouri, earlier this month.
- But they were taken off the plane during the boarding process when one of their sons, who has autism, had a meltdown.
- American Airlines said in a statement that it is looking into the incident and has reached out to the family.
Parents of five children said they were kept off an American Airlines flight in Texas because one of their sons who has autism had a meltdown while boarding.
Adam and Heather Halkuff, and their five sons under the age of 16, were travelling from Dallas to Kansas City, Missouri, earlier this month when they say they were taken off the flight, according to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.
Ahead of their flight, the Halkuffs went through trial run with their two sons with autism, 5-year-old Milo and 2-year-old Ollie, to make sure they would be comfortable come time for the actual flight.
“I first contacted American Airlines and I asked them if there were any programs or anything they can do for us because we’d be travelling with five boys, two that had autism,” Adam Halkuff said told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.
Four years ago, American Airlines launched its “It’s Cool to Fly” program to help children with autism prepare for flights,Newsweek reported.
The test flight simulates every aspect of boarding a flight, including check-in, security, and waiting in crowded spaces. The program is supposed to help children become accustomed to the “sensory experience of air travel.”
The practice run went smoothly, but on the day of the flight, Milo had a meltdown just as the family was getting on the plane.
Heather Halkuff said that while other passengers asked the family if they needed help, the American Airlines ticketing agent was not as accommodating.
“Right away she goes, ‘He can’t get on the flight … he’s going to bother the other passengers and then he’ll still be upset during the flight and we’ll have to turn around and escort you off the plane,'” Heather said.
The Halkuffs said they offered to split up, with Heather taking Milo home to Rockwall, Texas, and Adam taking the other kids to Kansas City.
But the offer was rejected, and the entire family was taken back into the terminal, Heather said.
American Airlines said in a statement that it is looking into the incident and has reached out to the family.
The statement said: “We are concerned to hear about this situation. Our team has reached out to the Halkuff family to gather more information about what transpired at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW). The American Airlines team is committed to providing a safe and pleasant travel experience for all of our customers.
“When it comes to autism, American is a strong advocate for children. Our team members work closely with various nonprofit groups to alleviate the stress these children and their families may experience while flying, including offering families the opportunity to take a test fight on the ground. This process – which includes role playing and realistic airport interactions – helps children grow accustomed to the experience of flight.”
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