Society

Mother Of Special Needs Child Demands Apology From United Airlines For 'Humiliating' Family

| by Will Hagle
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A New Jersey mother of four has launched a social media campaign exposing the way her family was mistreated on a recent flight. Elit Kirschenbaum is angry at the airline for refusing to allow her 3-year-old child, who has Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and has suffered a stroke, to sit on her lap during a flight from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic to Newark, New Jersey. 

Kirschenbaum has rallied a group of sympathetic supporters around the hashtag #UnitedWithIvy. Twitter users have responded angrily to the company, criticizing the actions of a flight attendant who apparently became involved in a verbal confrontation with Kirschenbaum over the child on her lap.

According to ABC News, Kirschenbaum claims that she purchased a seat in economy class for her 3-year-old, Ivy, as she was aware of the federal safety regulations that require all children above the age of 2 to purchase their own seat. Kirschenbaum and her husband, however, were seated in first class. They planned to have Ivy sit with them, because she is unable to sit up on her own. Kirschenbaum claims that this is how the seating arrangement goes everytime the family flies. 

Although three flight attendants passed down the aisle without acknowledging Ivy, one flight attendant took issue with the girl's presence. 

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"Then a fourth attendant approached us and I immediately knew there was a problem. She said, 'she needs to be in a seat,'" Kirschenbaum said, describing the argument that followed as a "circus."

At one point, another flight attendant pulled out a handbook and found that an exception can be made “if the passenger cannot sit by themselves,” reports ABC.

Kirschenbaum's exchange with the flight attendant reportedly delayed the flight's takeoff by an hour. Ivy was ultimately allowed to sit with the Kirschenbaums for the remainder of the trip.

A United spokesperson issued the following statement: "The parents, who were ticketed in first class, wanted to hold the child in their lap rather than have the child take the seat they'd purchased for her in economy. Federal safety regulations require any child over the age of two to have his or her own seat, and flight attendants are required by law to enforce that safety rule. As we did in this case, we will always try to work with customers on seating arrangements in the event of any special needs."

Sources: ABC News, The Inquistr / Photo Credit: The Inquistr