Geneva, Switzerland — An Israeli family who were on board a Swiss International Airlines connecting flight bound for Geneva, Switzerland were kicked out of the flight by the airline staff because of their son, who has autism. Autism Daily Newscast has reported on a similar incident with other airlines in the past. – This occurred in May Opinion: Teenage girl with autism kicked off United Airlines plane – w/video and When a travel adventure becomes a nightmare – United Flight 1535 and another on Qantis in April and again in February, Autistic boy, 11, banned from plane after being deemed ‘unfit to fly’
The Zalmanovich family took two months to prepare their son, eight-year-old Yaheli, who was diagnosed with autism, for a trip to Switzerland to visit their relatives. Yaheli was well-behaved during the first few hours of the flight, but as their 40-minute connecting flight to Geneva was about to take off, the young boy started crying and yelling uncontrollably.
But instead of offering to help them, the family said that the flight attendants on board the Swiss International Airlines were more intent on apologizing to other passengers whom they felt were being inconvenienced by Yaheli’s crying.
Not long after that, they kicked the Zalmanovich family off the flight.
According to Yaheli’s mother, Noa:
“They shamefully kicked us off the flight. We were left with our luggage, shocked and humiliated. It was 10 p.m. and luckily we were able to catch the last train to Geneva. In an age when one in every 68 children is diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, I would expect a slightly more understanding response from a company that calls itself a luxury airline.”
To make matters worse, the family soon after found that their return tickets were cancelled by the airlines, and were told that they were ineligible for refund since the family was marked as a “no show” on the airlines’ connecting flight going to Geneva.
The family tried to complain, but the only bargain that the airline was apparently willing to make was to restore the family’s return flights for a fee of $2,080.
According to Noa:
“The financial cost is nothing compared to the mental anguish that this experience caused, the exhaustion and the humiliation.
“In the end we took an El Al flight back. We were treated warmly and understandingly and at the end of the flight Yaheli thanked the crew with tears in his eyes.”
Swiss International Airlines said through a statement that it does not condone the staffs’ actions towards the Zalmanovich family. The airline company said it will investigate on the matter, and has promised to compensate the family for their inconvenience.
Source: Hagit Ron-Rabinovich in Israel Hayom Israeli family removed from Swiss flight over son’s autism