Of the countless flights that take place every day, most of them seem to be fairly incident-free. But when there is a problem of some sort, it usually becomes a BIG problem, and quickly.
One family traveling from Detroit to Houston was allegedly the recipient of some rather bad behavior from SkyWest Airlines, which partners with Delta.
The family — mom, daughter and two sons — boarded the plane without issue, but asked a woman to trade seats so Tayo, 21, one of the brothers, could sit with a family member. Tayo is nonverbal and has autism, so sitting next to someone he knows is best for everyone.
“He suffers from OCD, sensory overload, and many other symptoms that can make air travel particularly difficult for him,” Ayo Isola, the other brother, explained on Facebook. “For his safety and the safety of those around him, it is important that he sit with a family member on flights.”
No one around them had a problem with their arrangement, and the woman who traded seats with Tayo was happy to do so.
“We boarded the plane and easily found a nice woman sitting one row away who was willing to switch seats. Problem solved,” Isola wrote.
It seemed like everything was going well — until a flight attendant allegedly took issue with the move.
“The flight attendant became upset and demanded my brother move back to his original seat,” Isola continued. “We explained to her that he has special needs and that this small accommodation would be necessary, however she continued to raise hell about passengers switching seats.”
The stand-off continued, and 20 minutes later the attendant allegedly brought a gate supervisor over. Ironically enough, the supervisor had no issue with the seating arrangement and essentially told the attendant that “this happens.”
But the according to Isola, the attendant still wasn’t done yet.
“At this point the other passengers are defending our right to be treated fairly and telling the flight attendant she is being discriminatory,” Isola wrote. ‘We are 45 minutes late to depart now. The attendant goes straight to the pilot to complain that we are causing a ‘safety hazard.'”
A while later, the entire plane was asked to de-board, Isola said. What seemed like a minor shift became a major kerfuffle, and the pilot and crew ended up allegedly refusing to fly, forcing the 75 passengers to get off the already-late flight and wait three hours before their flight finally departed with a new flight crew.
“They refused to fly the plane because they were told to make a minor accommodation for a passenger with special needs,” Isola wrote.
“Im posting this story to highlight the ignorance, bigotry, and blatant discrimination that unfortunately exists in people today,” Isola wrote. “It is not right to treat people with special needs as if they are unworthy of your time or effort. Especially when a simple accommodation or a tiny bit of compassion can be the difference between them being successful or unsuccessful in life.”
Isola’s post has gone viral, and both Delta and SkyWest have issued statements promising that they are investigating the incident.
“We are investigating reports regarding SkyWest flight 3596, operating as Delta Connection from Detroit to Houston, Texas, which experienced a delay boarding as a result of an issue regarding customer seat assignments,” SkyWest said, according to WXYZ. “We are committed to providing exceptional onboard service to all of our customers and are working with our partner Delta to reach out to the customers.”
“If that’s the way they are going to treat people, then they don’t need to be flying planes,” Isola said, according to WXYZ. “I think they should do some sort of mandatory sensitivity training. They were discriminatory and offensive. The fact that they refused to fly us because my brother has a disability I was very frustrated.”
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