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Mom of Child with Special Needs Says United Airlines ‘Humiliated” Family

Posted on the 01 January 2015 by Real Talk @talkrealdebate2012
ABC News. (yahoo news)

ABC News. (yahoo news)

I just read an article on about a mom who claims United Airlines humiliated her family. The family of six was returning to Newark, New Jersey from the Dominican Republic when they were approached by a flight attendant about a safety concern. Elit Kirschenbaum’s 3-year-old daughter, Ivy, has Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and is a stroke survivor. The family bought Ivy a seat (in the economy section) because they were aware of federal regulations requiring anyone older than 2 to purchase their own seat.

Elit says despite the fact they bought the extra seat they planned on carrying the child on her lap because she was unable to sit up by herself. The discussion caused tension between the 4 flight attendants as 3 of them were okay with the exception to the rule. Elit says she doesn’t want to sue the company nor does she want any compensation. She simply wants an apology.

United Airlines responded:

“The parents, who were ticketed in first class, wanted to hold the child in their lap rather than have the child take the seat they’d purchased for her in economy. Federal safety regulations require any child over the age of two to have his or her own seat, and flight attendants are required by law to enforce that safety rule. As we did in this case, we will always try to work with customers on seating arrangements in the event of any special needs.”

So should the airline apologize to the Kirschenbaum Family?

My immediate reaction was yes. I quickly sympathized with this family and the daily struggles they must overcome because of the challenges accompanied with raising a special needs child. However, after much consideration I think the airline does not owe them an apology. I think the family should have contacted the airline, before the flight, and asked about the special traveling situation. I have not read this to be the case in any article.

In addition, I wonder if the child could have been put in a booster seat of some sort. Would that have been a solution? I am not sure. I just think that as much of a jerk the flight attendant looked in upholding the rule, she/he was only trying to ensure the safety of each patron. What if there was turbulence and the child was hurt. Would the airline have been liable? In addition, the point of the federal regulation isn’t to force parents to purchase a seat, nowhere near the family, for the sake of buying a seat. It is so that the child can be properly strapped.

What do you think?

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