Lifestyle & Human Interest

Crew and Passengers on United Airlines Flight Befriend Restless Boy with Autism: 'He Is a Blessing'


Flying with young kids and hoping all goes well can be a bit of a gamble. Sometimes, the flight is straightforward and painless, and other times, you wish you had the opportunity to fold.

Lori Gabriel, from Magnolia, Texas, was flying with her 4-year-old son, Braysen, when things began to get shaky.

Braysen had been on airplanes before and done quite well, but on this particular United Airlines flight, Braysen, who has autism, was having a hard time.

The child did not want to sit in his seat; he wanted to lay in the aisle covered in a blanket. He wanted to be in the first class seating section. As he fidgeted and moved in the sardine-like rows of chairs, Braysen kicked the seat in front of him.

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Braysen’s behavior could have caused a huge scene and plenty of annoyance for passengers in close proximity, but the United Airlines flight crew did not make a big deal about the boy’s actions.

Picking a battle with a 4-year-old autistic child was not going to land the plane any faster or relieve anybody’s stress, so the flight crew chose to work around the boy who was laying in the aisle with a blanket.

They did so with a cheerful heart.

“So my little flyer (he’s autistic but normally loves to fly) didn’t have such a good flight home,” Gabriel posted on Facebook. “Trying to get him to stay seated was impossible he wanted to sit on the floor in the hall and in first class.”

Gabriel was relieved that the crew members were so kind to her son.

“Huge thank you to united airlines they accommodated his needs, made sure we were all ok, worked around where he choose to sit,” she wrote.

Fellow passengers also showed their support for the mom struggling to contain her autistic child.

One woman, an off-duty flight attendant according to CNN, slipped Gabriel a note of encouragement, acknowledging the hard work of parenting a child with special needs.

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“Do not ever let anyone make you feel as though you are an inconvenience or a burden. He is a blessing. God bless your patience, your love, your support and your strength. Continue to be a super woman,” the note read.

The timing of the encouraging note was just the pick-me-up that Gabriel needed to persevere.

“To the lady that wrote me this note in seat 7D thank you, you may not know how much that means to us when we feel defeated,” Gabriel wrote.

A first-class passenger played with Braysen, giving him high-fives and not minding when the boy brushed against the back of his seat.

Gabriel shared her story in hopes that the strangers on board the flight might see her post and know her deep appreciation for their kindness.

“United really showed up tonight and helped us through this flight,” she wrote.

Showing a little grace to a young boy turned a potentially disastrous flight into no problem at all.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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