Family kicked off flight due to teen's autistic behavior, mother says

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SALT LAKE CITY — An Oregon mother says she plans to sue United Airlines after a flight made an emergency landing in Salt Lake City to remove her family from the plane. She says it was because of her daughter who has autism.

Donna Beegle said she and her family were flying back to Oregon from Walt Disney World last week when her teenage daughter with autism started getting angry because she was hungry.

"I was suggesting (things that could help), and everything (from the flight attendants was), 'No, no, no, we can't do that. We can't do that.' And that was when I just kind of said, 'You know what, maybe after she has a meltdown and she's crying and trying to scratch, then you'll help us,'" Beegle said.

She said a flight attendant brought them food and her daughter calmed down, but they landed in Salt Lake City and were escorted off the plane.

"The police said, 'Well, we're going to have to ask you to leave the plane,'" Beegle said. "And I said, 'I don't understand. Why? There's no issue, what is the problem?' And he said, 'Well, the captain doesn't feel comfortable flying to Portland with your daughter on the plane.'"

Beegle has filed complaints with the airline and the FAA and says she plans to file a lawsuit so that staff will get better training.

A United Airlines statement said the crew made the best decision for the safety and comfort of all the customers after the situation became disruptive.

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