Texas family-of-seven is blocked from boarding an American Airlines flight because of five-year-old autistic son’s meltdown, parents claim
- Adam and Heather Halkuff had planned a trip from Dallas to Kansas City with their five sons, two of whom have autism
- They contacted the airline beforehand and were able to do a dry-run at the airport a week before the trip so the autistic boys could get used to flying
- Just before boarding the real flight, five-year-old Milo had a meltdown
- As a result, the gate agent would not let them board, according to the parents
- American Airlines is currently investigating the incident
A Texas family claims they were blocked from boarding an American Airlines flight because their autistic son had a meltdown during boarding.
When Adam and Heather Halkuff began making plans to bring their five sons, two with autism, on a family vacation to Kansas City, they reached out to American to see if the airline could do anything to make the flight out of Dallas Fort Worth International Airport go as smoothly as possible.
The airline agreed to have the two autistic boys, five-year-old Milo and two-year-old Ollie, come to the airport a week before their trip for a dry-run so they could get comfortable with the process of going through security and boarding the aircraft.
Unfortunately, when the real travel day came around, things didn’t quite go to plan.
Parents Adam and Heather Halkuff claim American Airlines staff would not let them board a flight out of Dallas, Texas, because their autistic five-year-old son Milo (above) had a meltdown
As their plane was boarding, Milo had what the parents described as a meltdown in at the gate.
‘All the passengers are walking by. They’re very kind, they’re like: “You got this, mom. Don’t worry about it. Do you need any help?”‘ Heather explained to NBC5.
The gate attendant, however, was much less understanding, telling the family they would not be allowed on the flight.
According to Heather, the ticket agent said: ‘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.’
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The parents then made the difficult decision to split up, with Adam taking Milo home so the others could travel on.
‘I don’t want them to resent Milo, ever, that we can’t do stuff,’ Heather said of the decision.
After hearing of the incident, American Airlines has been in contact with the family and is conducting its own investigation.
‘We are concerned to hear about this situation,’ the company said in a statement to NBC5. ‘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.’
After hearing of the incident, American Airlines has been in contact with the family and is conducting its own investigation (file photo)
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