A South Valley family claims American Airlines denied them access to an airplane because their son has Down Syndrome.
16-year old Bede Vanderhorst has down syndrome, his parents; Robert and Joan Vanderhorst say they've never dealt with such discrimination until now.
“He did nothing behavior wise that would indicate that he would be a threat or disruptive on the flight,” said Robert Vanderhorst.
Robert says they were waiting to board their flight from Newark to Los Angeles when he decided to pay an extra 625 dollars to upgrade his family to fly first class. They were given their seats but claim after the pilot saw Bede, they were denied access.
Cell phone video Joan began shooting as an American Airlines reprehensive told them their son is a flight risk shows Bede quietly playing with his hat in a nearby seat.
“I mean it's just confounding, it's confounding and you're trying to make sense of it as each little step progress and not sensible,” said Joan Vanderhorst.
American Airlines issued a statement saying, "Bede was excitable and running around, and not acclimated to the environment additionally, the pilot personally tried to calm him down, to no avail."
“Well it's a lie that he interacted with my son and if he did he did it behind our backs ok, because I was with my son the entire time in the waiting area for over two hours,” said Robert.
California Senator Michael Rubio along with Best Buddies International founder and Chairman Anthony Shriver sent a letter to American Airlines CEO requesting immediate action is taken and a public apology should be issued to Bede and his family.
Vanderhorst is requesting American Airlines train and educate their pilots and crew members to be more sensitive toward people with disabilities but if they don't comply they plan to sue.